September 14, 2021

The new Wes Anderson movie has sentence diagramming!

 

I made that screen shot from the trailer:

I already blogged about the new movie — "The French Dispatch" — in the first post of the day, here, but I had to open up a new post because... sentence diagramming!

This is one of my favorite topics. I've blogged about it many times... including the one where a reader took up my challenge to diagram a 46-word sentence by Camille Paglia, the one where a reader took up my challenge to diagram a 153-word sentence from "Paradise Lost," and this one, where I'd written a long sentence and somebody called it a "doozy," and I said "Diagram it. It looks really cool diagrammed," and when no one stepped up to that challenge, I did it myself and made a video of the diagram so you could see for yourself how cool it was:

And now there is a movie, not entirely about sentence diagramming, but with some vivid sentence diagramming in it. I don't think there's a film documentary about sentence diagramming. I wish there were. But that's okay. I am hoping that because of the great love so many people have for Wes Anderson, this movie will inspire a renaissance of sentence diagramming!

It might go nicely with the expanding home school movement.

34 comments:

Gahrie said...

Fifteen years ago when I was teaching English at the middle school level, I suggested we do sentence diagraming. I was the only one in the meeting that knew how. Thank you Ms. Grover.

Kai Akker said...

Sentence diagramming. What a blast from the past.

I went to all the Parent-Teacher nights with my kids and I tried almost always to ask the English teachers if they taught grammar. Rarely got any clear answer except along lines of sort of, when needed [for the incredibly creative student writing that would flow on to Camelot without any need for grammar, dummy].

But my oldest son is an editor at a big-circulation magazine and was asking for help with comma placement just this weekend. He said he is going back to Strunk & White, which I had first showed him, to make up for the fact that he was NEVER taught any grammar, including at the great magnet school in Philadelphia from which he graduated.

More sentence diagramming please! It is the architecture of prose.

Narr said...

Sentence diagramming sucks. I was reading Churchill, Wells, Fleming, Arch Whitehouse (anybody remember him?), Catton and Heinlein, and writing quite well when I needed to.

My work required writing and editing, and not once did I think of diagramming a sentence, no matter how badly written it was.

I saw no reason whatever to waste time on anything as arcane as diagramming sentences, and still don't. I don't do crossword puzzles or sudoku either.

And stay off my lawn!

mtp said...

I dropped out high school.
I don't want to say it was because of sentence diagramming, but it was because of sentence diagramming.

Kevin said...

Sentence diagramming?

They dont evan amfasize propper spelen.

Ficta said...

Mrs Brooks made us copy the sentence out first (I hated hated hated that. It was a life changing moment for me in college when I realized I could stop trying to write illegible cursive and return to printing. Attempting to write in cursive was torture.), but I loved the diagramming. Such a satisfying and instructive activity.

Kai Akker said...

---and when no one stepped up to that challenge, I did it myself and made a video of the diagram so you could see for yourself how cool it was

... and featuring, in among the clauses, yes, Bob Dylan; Meade; and Saul Steinberg. LOL

Nice work!

Whiskeybum said...

Diagram this!

Bill Peschel said...

While Ward Farnsworth didn't talk about diagramming sentences, his books "Farnsworth's Classical English Style" and "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" taught me how to shape sentences to make them more effective. It opened my eyes to the power of the printed word.

Ann Althouse said...

"... and featuring, in among the clauses, yes, Bob Dylan; Meade; and Saul Steinberg. LOL"

Don't forget Jerry Rubin!

rhhardin said...

Sentence diagramming gets the analysis wrong.

"It's wrong for him to say otherwise." It's "him" not because it's the object of "for" but because it's the subject of a non-finite verb "to say" and subjects of non-finite (not carrying tense) verbs in English are in the objective case. "For" is a marker for the subject of a to-infinitive.

See A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Grammar, Quirk Svartvik Leech and Greenbaum for a thousand other similar things.

rehajm said...

I dropped out high school.
I don't want to say it was because of sentence diagramming, but it was because of sentence diagramming

I enjoyed the challenge of diagramming sentences in grammar school. In middle school I moved to a different school system where the curriculum utilized some crazy effed up view of english and had it’s own vocabulary and rules of diagramming sentences.

First test I received an F- This previously straight A student wanted to give the teacher an F word.

…there was some civilized discussion and we worked it out.

Joe Smith said...

Like music theory, this is way over my head.

Now let's discuss people who say 'Vy-a' vs those who say 'Vee-a.'

I'm in the latter group btw...maybe it's geographical?

CaroWalk said...

I hope this movie does for sentence diagramming what Queen's Gambit did for chess. I taught English about 15 years ago, too -- and emphasized sentence diagramming. You betcha. Next thing you know, we'll have a revival of proper possessives. The apostrophe shall be avenged of post-modern indifference.

Lem said...

I would watch it regardless.

Amy Welborn said...

I have long been confused at the decline in the use of diagramming in an era (the last 3 decades or so) in which educators have been told over and over, about all the different learning styles and how important it is to use methods that would be helpful to students with varied styles - including visual learning - what is diagramming but that?

The best diagramming story was told to me by my mother, who knew a nun who'd taught in the 20's and 30's. One of her students ended up being a POW during World War II and he kept his mind active in part, by diagramming every sentence in The Turn of the Screw - the only book he had.

And when you consider that's Henry James.....that's something.

Narr said...

Making kids who already read and write well do sentence diagramming is like mandating vaccines for people who have already had COVID.

Freeman Hunt said...

One son was expressing his hatred of sentence diagramming just today in terms similar to Narr's. "It is ridiculous! Why would you do this? The sentence makes sense or it doesn't, and it doesn't matter how it diagrams."

Freeman Hunt said...

One son was expressing his hatred of sentence diagramming just today in terms similar to Narr's. "It is ridiculous! Why would you do this? The sentence makes sense or it doesn't, and it doesn't matter how it diagrams."

tim in vermont said...

I was kind of curious about sentence diagramming since Althouse seems to exact an almost childish pleasure from the activity, but try as I might, I can't see the point.

Blair said...

I watched Hotel Budapest, and while it was visual candy, none of that could hide the lack of anything engaging in the storyline and plot.

I expect this one is the same. I'll keep my 90 minutes for something more worthwhile. Doing laundry, perhaps...

tim in vermont said...

I am reminded of that movie Adaptation, where the Meryl Streep character tries to understand the orchid thief's fascination with the flowers, she doesn't get it until she takes a drug that helps her with "being fascinated" and she becomes fascinated by the dial tone of the telephone. Maybe I need that drug to become fascinated with sentence diagramming.

And I did try.

Narr said...

We know that the Prof doesn't like loose ends or untidiness (I saw those pix of her desk!)

I'm starting to think that all her posts about diagramming are a quiet and subtle plea for all of us to diagram our sentences before we hit the publish button.



Clark said...

@rhhardin - You are right that him is the subject of a non-finite clause. It is not, however, sentence diagramming that gets it wrong. It is that particular attempt at diagramming that gets it wrong.

The basic rules for sentence diagramming only take you so far (actually, pretty darn far if you're interested in pursuing it). It is up to the expert diagrammer then to find ways to use the language of diagramming to represent the grammar of the thing diagrammed.

You and I did this dance once before in these comments. Your stance on this is like a person who hears something spoken in English with faulty grammar and takes the position that the English language gets it wrong.

effinayright said...

Narr said...
Making kids who already read and write well do sentence diagramming is like mandating vaccines for people who have already had COVID.
********************

Until kids demonstrate they read and write well, how will they KNOW their sentences make any fucking sense, unless they are taught the logical structure of English?

What if Martin Luther King had started his famous speech by declaring: "DAMN! I be DREAMIN'!!" Would white America have treated him as a serious person?

(I learned to parse sentences in high school, and that ability has served me well ever since. Althouse spots grammar and syntax errors all the time. She shows how woozy sentences produce woozy logic.

How do you think she does that, except by parsing sentences?

tim in vermont said...

"Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" might be a fun one, I am guessing.

Jim said...

Here in Florida the federal trial court judge hearing a challenge to the so-called anti-riot bill ordered counsel for both side to provide supplemental briefing that included diagrams of a sentence of the statute at issue. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the challengers.

tim in vermont said...

OK, in the immortal words of Hubert Horatio Humphrey, I concede. Getting who/whom right is justification enough. Diagramming these long, but correct, sentences is a red herring. Diagramming is useful if you don't understand why a sentence sounds wrong grammatically. Giving examples of sentences with errors makes a more solid case for teaching it. "I'd like to speak to whomever stole the cookies," why is that wrong? Diagram it. It reaches into those corners where training of the ear by reading alone fails. The English language has infinite variety and you can read millions of words and still run into new cases that your ear hasn't encountered, or at least hasn't encountered often enough for the case to become engrained, so diagramming is a means that allows you to pin the sentence down and check it against the agreed upon rules of the language.

That's a 180 in my position. I guess that's why I read this blog.

Narr said...

I can't believe the pro-diagramming nonsense spouted here. Literally. Do we use algebra to tell the time?

Did people express themselves well before diagramming sentences became a fetish? For that matter, when DID diagramming become the fetish it was by the 60s? Has widespread diagramming of sentences led to improved literacy? If not, why not?

As for aid in parsing sentences, if you need it, use it.

I guess I just have a lacuna when it comes to diagramming.

Milwaukee said...

In 1967 my sixth grade teacher started to diagram a sentence and said "We'll do this later.". We never did. In 1977 an engineering student in dorm had a book on diagramming sentences for a technical writing class. I bought a copy and took it with me to the Peace Corps. I worked every exercise. I was ready and motivated. I think those exercises helped my writing. Better thinking through better grammar.

Milwaukee said...

In 1967 my sixth grade teacher started to diagram a sentence and said "We'll do this later.". We never did. In 1977 an engineering student in dorm had a book on diagramming sentences for a technical writing class. I bought a copy and took it with me to the Peace Corps. I worked every exercise. I was ready and motivated. I think those exercises helped my writing. Better thinking through better grammar.

Milwaukee said...

Personally, I would not be sentence diagramming avoiding. But I won't stop someone who wants to be like that.
What does algebra have to do with anything. Don't know much about algebra? Do you know what a slide rule is for?
Not using algebra, is that due to can't or won't?
I took college chemistry when all we had was slide rules.

Narr said...

In my experience--YMMV--bright kids don't really need diagramming, and it causes more dread and resentment than enlightenment to the rest.

My test scores skew to the girl's pattern--high, but much higher in the verbals. Doesn't at all mean that diagramming sentences seemed like a good use of time to me.

Perhaps a more fair analogy (fairer analogy?) would be, trying to improve someone's aim with a gun by making them study ballistics.

BTW, I invite and encourage anyone who likes diagramming sentences to diagram mine and post results. I'll try to supply good material!

Unknown said...

Diagramming sentences is profitable. I once saved my company some money by diagramming a sentence in a contract that I couldn't figure out without doing that.