The glamour of grammar-day haiku

In a March 4th post on the use of amn’t in Ireland, I mentioned that it was National Grammar Day – or as I think of it, International Grammar Day.

Among the traditional events on the day is a grammar haiku contest, carried out mostly on Twitter and won this year by Nancy Friedman. Mark Allen has helpfully collected the entries, which are always fun to browse. These three are mine:

Hints at a hidden truth: the
Glamour of grammar.

Grammar essentials
go way back: school just refines
the work of infants.

Editors around
the world have many more than
Forty words for “Phew!”

The glamour of grammar echoes a certain T-shirt, the second is an old refrain for anyone scolded into thinking their native grammar is “bad”, and the third plays on the prototypical snowclone of Eskimos having forty words for snow. (Or even six billion.)

Comments in haiku
Are especially welcome,
But don’t feel obliged.


18 Responses to The glamour of grammar-day haiku

  1. bevrowe says:

    who in a question
    could be an accusative
    whom care so really?

  2. No obligation,
    a welcomed invitation
    from one I respect.

  3. Stan says:

    is also involved; we need
    a sense of whom, or…

    Nor expectation –
    but all are welcome, not least
    debutants. Thank you!

  4. astraya says:

    Irregardless of
    what descriptivists say, I
    prefer ‘regardless’.

  5. bevrowe says:

    prescriptivists have
    many words for showing faults.
    One’s enough: snobbery

  6. Brendano says:

    I dashed off a couple of last-minute entries.

    Style is a ‘mine’ field:
    You can have your grammar views,
    But I prefer mine.

    You can call me ‘Al’,
    But please omit me when you
    Think ‘publically’.

  7. Stan says:

    I don’t know any
    descriptivists who prefer
    irregardless, though!

    has editorial use:
    register, not fault.

    Publicly is a
    curious anomaly.
    Welcome, by the way.

  8. astraya says:

    I wanted to change
    my comment to ‘I will use’
    but couldn’t edit.

  9. astraya says:

    A mini-poster circulating on the internet is almost a haiku. It reads:
    I’m a linguist.
    I like ambiguity
    more than most people.

    Maybe it is a haiku if ‘linguist’ is intended to be three syllables (does anyone pronounce it like that?). If ‘linguist’ is two syllables (as in my pronunciation), then the above can be changed to a haiku by uncontracting ‘I’m’.

    • Defining haiku is controversial, but you’re placing too much emphasis on number of syllables here. Many sources (like this one) specify that a haiku should have 17 syllables or fewer.

      That said, the game of writing in precisely 17 syllable blocks is obviously a thing in its own right, whether or not you call it haiku. Writing about a topic as abstract as grammar while staying true to the Japanese form (with its emphasis on concrete sensory experience) is perhaps too restrictive; most poems that attempt it seem forced.

  10. Claire Stokes says:

    I want to join in
    albeit tentatively
    resistance: futile.

  11. bevrowe says:

    To be prescriptive
    or not to be: that is not,
    in fact, a question

  12. bevrowe says:

    Perhaps soon comments
    should be closed: haiku drift down
    like the autumn leaves

  13. Stan says:

    It’s two syllables
    for me too, but maybe three
    for someone, somewhere.

    tentative or otherwise:

    It’s quite compulsive
    but hard to join grammar to
    seasonal reference.

  14. My best effort follows — but since I find grammar too abstract a topic for haiku, this one is about writing and editing.

    Turbulent white sea
    flows over the writer’s desk:
    the corpses of drafts.

    • Stan says:

      A properly poetic effort, Adrian. As you probably know, the competition organisers allow entries on topics broadly to do with writing, editing, and language (or indeed grammar in its loose sense), which is probably just as well.

  15. alexmccrae1546 says:

    There was an old woman
    Who lived in a haiku
    She had so few “morae” (‘on’)
    She didn’t no what to do.*

    *well aware that was not a haiku, just an ordinary bit of silly poesy w/ a rhyming couplet within

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