Grammar B

Grammar is essentially a set of conventions that everyone agrees to follow. Grammar A is the set of conventions that produces formal, standard English, the set you’ve been learning and required to produce in all your academic writing. Grammar B is another set of rules that only certain professional writers get away with, but which produces meaning much more accurately and expressively for certain occasions. The following “rules” come from Ruth Mirtz, “You Want Us to Do WHAT?” in Elements of Alternate Style (ed. Wendy Bishop), who in turn borrows them from Winston Weathers’ article “Grammars of Style.”

1. Crots. A crot is a “chunk of sentences or text that all goes together in some way. It looks like a “note.” You could write a series of crots as “snapshots” separated by space or asterisks.

2. Labyrinthine Sentences. A long, winding, endless sentence which follows Grammar A, which may use parentheses, series set off by semicolons, embedded phrases, explanations within explanations (such as why this particular sentence is not really a very labyrinthine sentence because it is too short and too straightforward).

3. Sentence Fragments. Use them. Often. To give a sense of uncertainty. Or separation.

Generally A minimum of five
Usually Independent of a sentence
Possibly Written horizontally
Sometimes Looks like a poem

5. Double-voice. Two or more competing or complementing perspectives can be written in the same text “breath” using parentheses, italics, spacing, questions, or just much different styles. Yeah, right, I’m sure they understand double-voice with that incredibly hopeless sentence. Double-voicing is a dialogue without Grammar A dialogue punctuation and without the framing devices for dialogue. Geez, maybe I should write this in columns as a better example and don’t I need to warn them not to overuse the computer-font/styles? Changing fonts or print styles is not double-voicing, though, so don’t use computer tricks instead of thinking out your meaning. No, this belongs below with the guidelines.

6. Collage/Montage. Crots, lists, fragments, and labyrinthine sentences, poems, descriptions, maxims, schedules, stories can be combined into a collage, a loosely organized group of different kinds of text.

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