Quilting, Farming, Variety

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What a Nerd

My daughter is a fifth-grader. Today her homework in language arts class was to make a list of 30 prepositions and to write sentences with them. So of course she wanted help. We were brainstorming for prepositions (we came up with 20 before we had to go online for a list), and I was scanning through some sentences in a book, searching for prepositions we didn't already have. Suddenly, I was reminded again of how much I really love language.

I've said before that I love words and the shades of meaning different words convey. I relish the distinction between "walk" and "stalk" and "strut" and "sashay" and "stagger." But what sort of surprised me tonight was that I love the way the words go together, too. As an English major in college, one of the courses I had to take was Advanced Grammar. We used to diagram sentences in that class (anybody else remember doing that?), and I thought it was fun to strip a sentence down to its most basic elements of subject/verb/(object) and then to see how all the modifying elements like prepositional phrases winged off from that kernel of meaning. It was sort of like putting together a puzzle, or maybe more like taking a puzzle apart and seeing how all the unique pieces did their job to create the whole. I had the urge to diagram some sentences tonight...though it's been so long I'm not sure I could put everything in the right place.

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