Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confessions of a Descriptivist

Okay, this is my paper for my editing class that was super therapeutic to write. And my group members who edited it really enjoyed reading it. It's a four page paper so if you're not up to reading something that long, that's totally okay, but I wanted to share it. I think I'll feel so relieved when my teacher reads it. :) Haha. Anyway, happy reading to you.

I walked to class, unsure of what the new semester would bring. I sat down, a seat or two away from any other student, just as social norms dictate. Class began. I had no idea that the adventure I was embarking on would change my life, that I would depart from my conservative linguistic perspective and embrace a liberal stance.

It all began in that class, ELang 223, Introduction to English Language. From day one, I knew I had found something I would love. How could I not? Who knew that the silly little thoughts and concepts I had considered as a child were actually studied by scholars? Who knew there was another dimension to English besides literature and the grammar concepts I had so diligently enforced in high school?

My friends knew too well that I was poised and ready to pounce like a tiger to point out their slightest errors in spelling and grammar. How many times had I corrected their e-mails and speech? Weird, not wierd. Definitely, not definately. Here are the pictures of Jeff and me, not Jeff and I. Yes, I had done my part to educate my poor friends.

And it didn’t stop there. My teacher mistakenly wrote grammer instead of grammar—what was the world coming to? The local newspaper never knew how I ridiculed it for its daily errors. (Really? Shouldn’t you check to see which team won the game?) The poor souls who dared misspell a word on the chalkboard at church could only pray I forgave them without comment. To some, I was a savior; to others, a nazi. Some offered apologies in advance, some asked for my help, some tried to make as many mistakes as possible just to bother me. I was known as the Grammar Queen, Grammar Gestapo, and Grammarian. A friend gave me a book that reminded him of me, entitled Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English. My reputation as a stickler for accuracy in English usage spread. My teachers recognized my ability to catch usage errors. When students were required to have a peer edit their papers, my teachers recommended me. It seemed I was destined to become an editor. My only concern was the frustration I would surely feel with the world’s increasing stupidity.

But then I enrolled in ELang 223. I soon learned two new words that became very important to my life: prescriptivism and descriptivism. What was a prescriptivist? One who prescribes? I had only heard prescribe used in the context of medicine—what was this new meaning? One who orders or dictates, one who enforces the rules. This described my life exactly. I had been a language doctor going around handing out grammatical prescriptions to everyone—I now had the proper terminology to describe my life philosophy.

Then what was this mysterious descriptivism? What was a descriptivist, and more importantly, why would you want to be one? I had never before considered describing what was happening in language. I just wanted to fix it. As I learned about phonetics, morphology, and semantics, a whole new world was opened to me. I learned about the processes that language undergoes to arrive at new uses. I started noticing them in everyday use. I got so excited about my new knowledge that I shared it with whoever would listen.

I taught my roommate who always said sherbert instead of sherbet that she was only participating in the phenomenon of segment addition. I explained to my friends who consistently used Jeff and I when Jeff and me was actually correct that they were only victims of hypercorrection. Suddenly it was far more important and interesting to note unusual usages and to determine what was happening than it was to correct them. I carried a notebook everywhere and wrote down what I heard. I was becoming a descriptivist.

Serving a mission in Louisiana solidified this change. There were so many different things happening in the language. I wrote them down, thrilled to hear such unique expressions. After a while, they even started slipping into my own language. I asked, what time it is? and metathesized ask to aks. These utterances startled me. They worried me slightly, but mostly, I was delighted.

I came home from my mission and readjusted to the more conservative language. I decided to try my hand at editing again. I enrolled in ELang 350, Basic Editing Skills. The semester started out well. I was delighted by Brother Gardner’s humor. His comments of “We are the saviors, really, of the world,” “Please don’t tell people I called the Chicago Manual of Style scripture. I mark it, I cross-reference it, but I know it’s not scripture,” and “Ten points for Gryffindor!” excited me. On the first day, he brought up the big debate of prescriptivism vs. descriptivism. I thought I could balance the two, having spent considerable time on both ends of the spectrum. The first weeks of the semester went by uneventfully. I did my readings and assignments faithfully, enjoying the opportunity to review the rules of punctuation.

It didn’t take long before the descriptivist within me started whining, however. Why does that issue matter? Nobody does that in the real world. I found myself in inner turmoil. Did I really want to be an editor? Did I want to correct and improve written language every day? Did I want to adhere to usage rules? Or would I rather study what was happening in spoken English?

I considered the pros and cons of each path. I studied my class texts in the process. Amy Einsohn described copyediting as being like “an English exam that never ends: At every moment, your knowledge of spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, syntax, and diction is being tested.” That didn’t sound very pleasant, even with her reassurance that “you’re not expected to be perfect” (4). I appreciated the maxim of the editors of Chicago, “Rules and regulations such as these, in the nature of the case, cannot be endowed with the fixity of rock-ribbed law. They are meant for the average case, and must be applied with a certain degree of elasticity” (xiii). It comforted me that even the editors of a major style guide recognize the need for balance. But could I continue this balancing act?

The words of Alan Williams continually echoed in my mind: “Indeed, the day that an editor picks up a manuscript without some sense of anticipation is probably the last day he or she should be at work” (4). I realized that I don’t feel that anticipation. Editing is just not my passion. I don’t look forward to editing. I do it because I can—I have the ability. But I don’t truly enjoy it.

I am grateful I have had the opportunity to learn how to edit. It allows me to improve my own writing and to help friends and family with theirs. I know from first-hand experience how much work editors do, and I have a greater appreciation for them. I know I couldn’t pursue a career as an editor, so I have a great respect for those who do.

It is hard to believe that just four or five years ago I was firmly entrenched in prescriptivism. I have undergone a great change and now see language in an entirely different way. I no longer think of language usage as right or wrong, but simply as the way it is. This change has surprised some of my friends. One of them recently corrected something I wrote that could be considered ungrammatical. I knew I could defend what I had written, but instead I just smiled. Things have certainly changed. The inner Grammar Queen has forfeited her throne to the Descriptivist.

Works Cited

Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate

Communications. 2nd ed. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2006. Print.

Harper, Russell David. “Preface.” The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: The

University of Chicago Press, 2010. xi–xiii. Print.

Williams, Alan D. "What Is an Editor?" Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know

About What Editors Do. Ed. Gerald Gross. New York: Grove Press, 1993. 3–9Print.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tribute to Jimmer

Okay, this is my tribute to Jimmer, Michael Jackson style. Sung to the tune of Thriller. Thanks for the Emerys, we'll never Fredette.

Jimmer Thriller

It's close to tip off and something awesome’s warming up the floor

Under the spotlight, you see a sight that makes you want to roar

You hold a sign showing all your gre-at admiration

You start to cheer as you see him with your own eyes

You're super psyched

'Cause this is Jimmer, Jimmer night

And no one's gonna save you from the man about strike

You know it's Jimmer, Jimmer night

You're fighting for a win against a Jimmer, Jimmer tonight

You see him coming and realize there's nowhere left to run

You see the ball bounce and wonder if you'll ever see the sun

You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, yeah!

But all the while you hear the sneakers running up behind

You're out of time

'Cause this is Jimmer, Jimmer night

There ain't no second chance against the man with fifty points, yeah

Jimmer, Jimmer night

You're fighting for a win against a Jimmer, Jimmer tonight

Emery is stealing the ball, the whole team is making their threes

There's no escaping BYU players this time

(They're open wide)

This is the end of your life

They're out to get you, there's Cougars closing in on every side

They dominate you, can you see that number on the board

Now is the time for you and I to bleed blue together, yeah

All through the night I'll show you who’s the player of the year

I'll make you see

That this is Jimmer, Jimmer night

'Cause Jimmer can score more than any player on the floor

Jimmer, Jimmer night

So let me bleed true blue and show you

Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer here tonight

'Cause this is Jimmer, Jimmer night

Oh, Jimmer can score more than any player on the floor

Jimmer, Jimmer night

So let me bleed true blue and show you Jimmer, Jimmer, ow!

(He’s gonna Jimmer tonight)

Raining threes across the land

The ending hour is close at hand

Emery steals again the ball

Look at those numbers on the wall

And whosoever shall be found

Fouling Jimmer in the town

Must stand and face the swishing sound

He makes the extra points abound

It’s the Jimmer tonight, ooh baby

It’s the Jimmer tonight, oh darlin'

Jimmer night, baby, ooh!

The Cougar spirit’s in the air

The blue and white of yesteryear

And screaming fans from everywhere

Are closing in to have their share

And though you fight to stay alive

Your body starts to quiver

For no mere mortal can prevent

The power of the Jimmer

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Free rice

So in my Spanish class, our teacher offered extra credit if we went to and answered questions in Spanish and got up to 1000 grains of rice. is cool because you answer a question right and it donates 10 grains of rice to starving people. Ten grains times a lot adds up eventually. So I signed up and started going. It got a little boring after a while on the Spanish though because I was on level ten, the highest level, and it repeated the same words over and over...I tried going to different levels but it wouldn't stay that long for very long so I kept having to go back. I've tried some other things. English vocab is kind of challenging too. The math one is really fun. I've been doing that tonight. Basically is awesome. It stimulates your brain, is really easy to do, and you're feeding the hungry. How fabulous is that?

P.S. I'm up to 20,000 grains of rice. :D How much do you think that really is?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Locked out

Today I forgot my keys. This isn't normal for me. Hopefully it doesn't become a habit. I think I'll be okay. But anyway, I got home and hoped that one of my roommates would be home. I rang the doorbell but nobody came. Dang. So I went down to our other door and tried it, knowing it was probably locked, which it was. At least it was warmer under there than it was just out in the wind. So I texted two of my roommates, asking if either would be home anytime soon. Didn't get a response. So I called the one I thought should be home or close to home because it was too early for her to have class and her car was home. She didn't answer. Dang it. So I sat down and looked at some homework. Fortunately, a few minutes later one of my roommies texted back and said she was home and the door was unlocked. Turns out both of them were home, but one didn't hear her phone or the door, and the other was in the shower. Seriously? It takes a special person to get locked out when people are home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carl Bloch Exhibit

Tonight for FHE we went to the Carl Bloch exhibit on campus. It was AMAZING! Such beautiful pieces. There are such impressive details and such feeling conveyed in each painting. It was so neat. Only three of us showed up tonight, but we were richly fed by Bloch's portrayal of the Savior's life, as well as other scenes. I highly recommend going to the exhibit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friendly Friday

Today was awesome! It was day to see friends. First of all, I got to see my Spanish friends in class. Then my next class was cancelled but I had planned to go observe a preschool or kindergarten class on campus...two other girls in my class also planned that so I got to see them. They both served missions in Germany and they're in two of my classes. I like them. Sadly the kindergarten teachers had a work day so there were no children to observe...dang it. Oh well.
When I came home, I had lunch and started to study for my religion test. Then I felt vibrations coming from the general area of my pocket. I pulled out my phone and was surprised to see the name of a friend from high school that I haven't seen in over 2 years. She was at a teacher fair on campus and wondered if I was around and could meet her. So I got to see her and that was super fun. When she left, I studied some more for my test and another friend from high school came by. He'd just written a paper and was heading somewhere to turn it in. That was awesome too. THEN when I went to take my test in the testing center, I saw yet another friend from high school--what are the chances of that? Actually I see her randomly fairly frequently. Kind of funny. I took my test, did well, went to Subway, got dinner, and now I'm home for probably an hour of Spanish study and then whatever I want! Yay Fridays!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

These are my wicked awesome lucky socks. They're really old. I got them back in like 6th grade or something. But I wear them basically once a year, so a decade later, they're in great shape. I don't know if they're actually lucky, but (note the BYU blanket background) if we win tonight, they will become my lucky socks. Go Cougs! Luck o' the Irish to ye!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy π Day!

Today is a day to celebrate our favorite irrational number. BYU does it in style, I must say. Pi recitation contest, pie eating contest, frisbee throwing contest, other games, throw a pie in a professor's I am glad that I had to stay on campus through the noon hour and that I was really hungry so I went to the Wilk. Because the Wilky Way was full of mathematical life! Ah yes, I am so not alone in my nerdiness. Last year I celebrated basically alone...I did mention it to my district leader during nightly call ins and he said, "I knew my watch looked weird!" He was looking at 3.14 all day but didn't get it. I don't think I had pie then. And I don't have it now. Which is kind of sad. But I did have a raspberry peach crisp yesterday...that's close enough, right?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Two years ago

Two years ago today, I went here:

The Missionary Training Center! That's kind of crazy. By the end of the month, I'll have been home for six months. My MTC district elders are coming home next week. My MTC companion is married. Is this not crazy?

We were a happy family.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Español es fabuloso

I love Spanish. I love my Spanish class. Back in the day when I took Spanish 101 I hated it. It was so hard. I spent all my time studying Spanish. I didn't have that many classes that semester because one of them I tested out of and didn't have to go to class or do anything all semester. (Yeah, that was really nice!) But even so, that semester was so hard. I dreaded taking Spanish 102. So much so that I dropped it the next semester because it was giving me terrible anxiety. Then I went on a mission.
When I came back I knew I had to take 102 and get on with it. I was scared. The semester started. I had a total break down on day 2 because I couldn't remember much of anything from 101 and I was completely overwhelmed. The first little while was hard, trying to remember what I'd learned before and learn the new stuff. I stressed and struggled over the first tests. And I did remarkably well. God blessed me.
I even went to the conversation lab. In 101 I went once and hated it so much that I never went again. I just studied an extra two hours with a friend in the class. This time I went and liked the teacher right away. And one of my friends from class, Ashley, went with me. That helped.
Then there were my classmates. Ashley was great from the start. She quickly became mi amiga. Then I met Maraina and we started studying together. Then there's Timofeo. He's hilarious. Half the time he's not in class (8 am-killer for some people) but I love it when he's there. When he joins our study group, he usually talks too loudly and sometimes bothers those around us, but then he's so friendly to them and talks with them; it's hard to stay mad at him. Then you have Timoteo and Cam. They also make me laugh all the time. Then there's Bethany and Kelly and...everybody! I could name them all, but that seems unnecessary. My class is just totally awesome!
They're so awesome that I wanted to celebrate my birthday with them. So I made red velvet cupcakes and took them to class Tuesday. Today my teacher asked if I was going to have another birthday next week. Let me tell you about Profe. I love him too. I didn't feel comfortable with my 101 teacher. But this time, if I don't know the word, I don't worry about it too much. He helps me out if I don't know the word, instead of playing dumb so I sit there desperately trying to come up with something to say, getting more frustrated and less able to speak. From day one he helped. He told us to just vomit Spanish and let him see what we had for lunch. Not exactly pretty imagery, but it helped! So I don't know exactly how to properly say that, no biggie. He knows what I meant and helps me learn what I should have said. He's much more relaxed and has been the perfect teacher for me this semester. And it's not like he's making it too easy. Boy does he talk fast and with a Chilean accent. He's not Chilean, but his wife is, and he sounds like her. But practicing listening to him makes listening to other speakers easier sometimes. It's great.
My classmates have helped so much. At first I felt like I was the only one struggling. But soon I realized we really are all in this together. We have fun in class, fun studying together, fun going to International Cinema for extra credit. Even going to Pantruca's last week. We have the best class ever. I don't feel dumb with them any more, even when I don't know how to say something. It's the best.
These happy feelings have been a little slow coming. It's been up and down and a lot of work. But a couple weeks ago, one day I thought, "I love Spanish." And I realized I really do. It used to be the least worst class, putting it in 2nd place for favorite classes this semester. Now it's probably tied for 1st with my religion class. And that's saying a lot.
So there you go, it's official. I LOVE SPANISH.

P.S. Something else you just have to love about Spanish 102...the cheesy Carlos doesn't get much better than that. Maybe sometime I'll share that joy with's a sneak peek: "Para el mal de amores no hay doctores."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Chocolate

Soo...on my Spanish test last week I didn't feel as prepared as usual and I normally do quite well on the vocabulary sections at least, but there were several that I definitely did not know. Relojeria...yeah watchmaker's shop, really helpful vocab. Anyway, for one of my answers, I wrote "I got Jimmered," because I decided to at least make myself smile even if I didn't know the answer. Today we got our tests back. I did a lot better than expected, and actually this will be my highest score because our teacher is giving us 3 extra points (he agreed the vocab was ridiculous). But my favorite part was when he said, "The person who gave the best answer was Brooke. She wrote 'I got Jimmered.'" My classmates roared with delight and somebody gave me a high five. It pretty much made my day. Hehe. I'm so clever. That had nothing to do with chocolate except that it's awesome. But this does:

This afternoon my roommates Kelli and Kenzie took me to a place called The Chocolate for my birthday. Sounds like my kind of place, doesn't it? It's a dessert cafe. We had one of these:

One of these (ish...not so many strawberries)

And something like this:

Oh boy...that was a lot of yummy bad-for-you food. The Chocolate. State Street in Orem. Cute place. What fun birthday celebrations!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday!

To me. Yay! I'm 23. Twenty-three seems like a good age to be. And that rhymed. Today I took red velvet cupcakes to my Spanish class to share. That's how cool my class is. I guess when you have class every day early in the morning and study with each other and go to international cinema and to Chilean restaurants together and all you get to be pretty close. They sang happy birthday to me in Spanish. It was great.
I'm going to spend the evening with my grandparents today, roommates tomorrow, party on Saturday. Fun times all around!
This morning on one of my friend's blogs I discovered this beauty
I'd put this video on here but it always looks weird and takes up more space than it ought to so I'm putting the link instead. It's great. Just remember, YOU ARE AWESOME. Smile and have a happy my birthday.