In the opening post of The Politics of Words, We learned that Thomas Jefferson’s use of “more perfect” in the Declaration of Independence may or may not be a grammatical error. We learned that the rules and regulations of grammar are constantly in flux and tangible. And most of all we learned that to truly know anything about grammar we need to study the subject.
And so we begin our studies of English grammar in an imaginary location…
Welcome to Alphabet Land.
Alphabet land is a mental location very similar to our own. Yet instead of people there are letters and numbers that compose the citizen base. Each page, document, or sheet of paper is it’s own part of Alphabet land.
Our job as writers is to bring harmony to the land, where seldom is heard an out of place verb and the adjectives describe noun’s actions all day.
Like our reality, Alphabet land has its own stories and myths that get told around the campfires to young characters. As our myths come with morals, the myths of Alphabet land carry with them the sliver linings of learning. One such tale is…
The Legend of the Plural Rebellion.
Our story starts with the letter S, who was a solitary kind of guy and also a bit of a sarcastic snake. However, S was kind of special as he had the ability to make words plural. He could turn an apple into many apples or a grape into many grapes.
One day as S sauntered down a road, he heard an awful cry. Each step forward brought him closer to the wail of weeping. He became annoyed with the sound but continued around the bend where he found that Apostrophe stood with a puppy and a crying little boy.
“Salutations, Apostrophe. Please make this screaming child stop.”
“Oh hello, S. I would if I could but the boy won’t stop. You see, he found this lost puppy and wants to claim ownership. But he has no way to accomplish the task.” Apostrophe said.
“Seriously sticky situation, you have there, Apostrophe.” said S.
S took a step back and thought about the situation. He looked from the boy, to the puppy, and finally to Apostrophe, where a plan dawned in his devious mind.
“Eureka, I have found the answer.” S said.
“Well tell us the plan.” Apostrophe said.
S told them the plan and had them line up in just the right order. First the boy stood in front of Apostrophe, with S beside him and the puppy on the end. Together in a line they looked like:
The Boy ‘ S Puppy
Thus the puppy became the Boy’s puppy.
The young boy stopped crying when he realized what had happened. He now owned the puppy. He could look after and care for the puppy. He would feed and play with his puppy.
The Boy was filled with joy and thanked both S and Apostrophe. He then ran home to tell his mother about his new dog.
Apostrophe and S had found that they, together, had the power to help nouns claim ownership of other nouns. Yet like most power, their discovery went to their head.
The pair took off to use their new found ability. They turned bathrooms into boy’s bathroom or girl’s bathrooms. They made toys into big brother’s toys and little sister’s toys. They made adult things into Mommy’s things and Daddy’s things.
As the pair helped nouns to claim ownership of objects, S became a bit drunk with the power. He even started to think he was better than the other letters.
“Who among them can make things plural and have the power of ownership?” S would ask himself.
In the lunch room, S walked among the other letters as if his feet did not touch the ground. He held his head and nose high into the air as if to escape the smell of the other letters. He would hear snickers behind his back as he passed their tables.
“They are just jealous.” S said to himself.
Yet, the other letters were not jealous of S. His arrogant attitude had made him an outcast.
He sat alone at a table to eat his lunch in silent solidarity. His superiority complex kept the other letters at bay. And S continued to blame the other letters. He never questioned his own actions. He put his devious mind to a plan that would get revenge upon them all.
He could rule Alphabet land, but he would need the help of his friend Y and maybe the letter F.
The Plural Rebellion Continued
Find out S’s plan to take over Alphabet land in the next installment of : “The Politics of Words: the Plural Rebellion Part 2