A Spammer Grammar


When you operate an online site it hopefully generates a great deal of interest but it assuredly will result in beaucoup d’unwanted and annoying Spam. Luckily at this host-site there is an automatic filter that catches most of the Spam (although one wonders why so much crap is thrown at your site now when on other venues it was much less of a problem).

Typically I do not comment on the operation of the website or the hosting platform but in this case the spam catcher seems to have snagged a post that was inadvertently sent in raw form; it is both interesting and informative. Although it reads like an Ad-Libs game, I suspect that there is a pre-processor allowing the spammer to personalize the messages, always adhering to the corporation’s theme, making it simple for a spammer with only limited knowledge of the language, and at the same time injecting some personalization and variety in the message.

We might consider this to be a Grammar … a Spammer Grammar! See if you recognize any of the Spam you have been receiving.

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Plain English

HandbookI made myself curious with the last post and rummaged through my reference books to find that grammar book I mentioned. It is Plain English: A Complete Guide to Good English written by Anna Kathleen and J. Martyn Walsh of the Kansas Walshes. When looking online for a photo of the cover, I learned a few things about this skinny but valuable little book.

First, it was originally published in 1939 and that would have been the edition I used in school since it was my mother’s originally. When I moved on to college and graduate school I lost track of the book but was lucky to find a replacement copy in a used-book store, possibly in St. Louis. This is the one I still have on my bookshelf; it’s the third edition from 1951 and is in great shape except for some pencil notes in an unfamiliar hand (the notes are in cursive writing so they will become relics very shortly). I then went on to Amazon and discovered that Plain English at least made it into a ninth edition in the 1980s. What I also discovered was that there are barrels full of self-help grammar books that have been published since I was in college: some a complete, some are essential, some demystify, others divulge secrets, some are big books, some are plastic cards, but I wonder how many are actually better than my old Walsh handbook?

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Diagramming Sentences

I have been a subscriber to The Vocabula Review for years now; in fact I have a lifetime subscription and have recommended the site to many people. The way I see it, the more you expose yourself to the details of language—syntax, grammar, etc.—the better you will be able to write and think … or is it the other way around? Who said, “That which is not well written is not well thought”?

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