Can you reduce a non-restrictive relative clause?

Yes, I know that’s a question which has been keeping you up at night, but head on over to Cambridge’s Grammar and Beyond blog for my attempt at answering it. I’m not entirely sure I’ve got it quite right yet. While you’re there, you can play my new favorite game: find the sentence that faintly suggests the cover photo for the blog post!

My other recent posts there have been on there is/are and this/that/these/those, and they are equally riveting.

Grammar titbits and tidbits

I have a column in this month’s Grammar and Beyond newsletter on one of my favorite topics: noun + noun modification. It’s a nice segue from my recent articles on shifting from everyday to academic registers using nominalization and relative clauses. Suggestions for future topics are especially welcome right now!

I also just discovered that the reason I couldn’t get the title of this post to look right is that we say titbit in British English but tidbit in American English. Apparently, according to my favorite blog on the subject, this isn’t a case of Puritanical prudishness (you may titter all you like, dear reader), but an example of American English using the historically older form while British English goes off on its own tangent.

Introducing “Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Students” (video)

Here’s a short video I made last week at the Symposium of Second Language Writing at Purdue introducing Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers and explaining how and I why I cross-referenced my  book with the new edition of Academic Writing for Graduate Students, both from the University of Michigan Press.

And yes, the piece of paper on the table was my cheat sheet (I don’t get a teleprompter!). It was actually quite easy to tie my book into AWGS because Swales & Feak’s approach to writing is inextricably linked to language (grammar and vocabulary), and they were already using a somewhat functional approach to grammar. In fact, the third edition has a wonderful expanded discussion of old-new information patterns, which I develop in the last unit of Grammar Choices (my students’ favorite part of the book, usually).

We put a lot of thought into how much new terminology to introduce in Grammar Choices, and on the advice of Chris Feak (as in Swales & Feak) and our mutual editor, Kelly Sippell, I tried to stick to terms (technically, a metalanguage) that would be familiar at least to North American readers and especially to those using AWGS. I also wrote an expanded introduction which explains concepts that are a little less frequently used here, as well as a glossary. I was greatly encouraged at the recent Genre 2012 conference to hear Jim Martin, no less, of Sydney University endorse teaching materials that simplify systemic functional grammar’s daunting metalanguage into familiar terms, so hopefully my attempt to use functional principles with more “traditional” (structuralist) terminology will help writers benefit from the major insights of functional grammar without me having to explain it or them having to learn it!

I welcome feedback from users or reviewers of Grammar Choices. You can leave a comment below or on the Michigan ELT blog or contact me directly. Exam/review/desk copies are available now from the publisher, and you and your students can buy the book directly from the Press, from amazon.com, or in class sets from your university bookstore.

“Grammar Choices” — available now!

I just got word that my new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers, has been printed and will be on show at the Symposium of Second Language Writing at Purdue this week (which is also when I’ll get my hands on an advance copy!).

You can also see it here on the University of Michigan Press website and download Unit 1 to whet your grammatical appetite!

Update (9/6/12): I just saw a pile of the books here at SSLW. Makes it all seem rather more real!

I welcome feedback from users or reviewers of Grammar Choices. You can leave a comment below or on the Michigan ELT blog or contact me directly. Exam/review/desk copies are available now from the publisher, and you and your students can buy the book directly from the Press, from amazon.com, or in class sets from your university bookstore.

Online ESL Videos and Workshops

While I was working at the University of North Carolina, I made a series of online workshops for ESL students who didn’t have time to attend the face-to-face sessions we offered. (I call them the bobble-head videos, for reasons which will be obvious if you watch one!) Since then, the Writing Center has reorganized their website (looks slick, guys!), and many of the links I’ve posted on the blog previously don’t work. So, here are the direct links to all the videos:

Update 1/22/13: The video links are not working — either there’s a problem with the server, or UNC has canceled its account with Panopto. I’m working on a solution, but in the meantime, please use the PDFs, and you can just imagine my talking head …

  • Paraphrasing and plagiarism 1: Using sources (video) (pdf)
  • Paraphrasing and plagiarism 2: Preparing a paraphrase (video) (pdf)
  • Paraphrasing and plagiarism 3: Writing a summary (video) (pdf)
  • Ten principles for writing email (video) (pdf)
  • Corpus tools part 1 (video) (pdf)
  • Corpus tools part 2 (video) (pdf)
  • Vocabulary development strategies (video)
  • Academic Word List introduction (video) (pdf)
  • Making the most of your learner’s dictionary (video) (pdf)
  • Using a thesaurus (video) (pdf)
  • Culture shock (video) (pfd)

Please feel free to use and share these with students and colleagues. Please note that the links mentioned in the workshops might not still be active.

Anatomy of a book launch: Grammar Choices is proofed!

The verb proof refers to the process of “activating yeast” so that your bread will rise. I won’t torture the analogy too much, but I’ve just finishing proofing my textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers, which in its own way activates the final stages of the publishing process. Now, I just need to let it rise … OK, never mind.

Since I last wrote, a very patient typesetter has decoded the multiple layers of corrections and changes made by the editor, development editor, and myself to the “copy” (the marked-up version of the manuscript) and set the text as it will look in the printed book. I then read through everything to make sure nothing had slipped through and everything still made sense. Independently, a proofreader checked for typos, inconsistencies, and other oddities. Then, the editor–the wonderful Kelly Sippell, ESL manager for the University of Michigan Press–reconciled the two sets of proofs and scoured the whole book with her eagle eyes. That led to a bunch of gently worded questions like “are you sure this reference to section 4.11 is correct?” (there is no section 4.11). With those resolved, the book marches on towards final editing and printing, appearing on the shelves some time in September, we expect.

The strangest error we found was in a table of statistics that I’ve used in a data commentary exercise. The table shows how different generations use social media for job hunting. It’s from an authentic source, but I mistyped the labels so that the generations covered were X (18-29), Y (40-47), and boomers (48-65). Yep, I created a missing generation … which includes me! For the record, Generation Y is defined in the report as 30-47. That’s why we have proofreaders to make sure our bread doesn’t fall flat.

Update (9/10/12): Grammar Choices is now available, fully proofed!

(Image credit: Flikr, Creative Commons License)

It’s that time again …

It must be nearly Father’s Day because there’s been a spike of activity on the blog this week as readers find our annual discussion of the apostrophe (2010 and 2011).

Now it seems that the British government has heard our plea and is reinforcing the teaching of the apostrophe in the soon-to-be-revised National Curriculum for English. Perhaps future generations of English schoolchildren will be able to correct us all. The latest draft for primary (elementary) English includes:

There will be a focus on grammar – for instance, children will be expected to understand how to use the subjunctive and correct use of the apostrophe – for example, not using it to indicate plurals such as “I went to buy some apple’s” or using “it’s” as a possessive.

This raises the question of what the writers think they mean by the subjunctive: presumably the unreal conditional form if I were the Prime Minister unless they are trying to bring back the present subjunctive, We insist that apostrophes be taught better, which has all but vanished from British English.

From one grammar dad to another, happy Father’s Day!

Grammar Choices takes another step forward!

My new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers is one step closer to publication! This a picture of the copyedited manuscript (about a ream of paper!), which I have reviewed, revised, rewritten in places, and am now ready to put in a big box and send it to Ann Arbor.

This has been a really fascinating step in the development of the book because it involved a development editor who was not familiar with the project checking every word I wrote and making suggestions and corrections. Quite a lot has been changed at this stage – we found examples that didn’t make sense, exercises which were too hard, and explanations which were rather strange! My students have helped by pointing out questions they couldn’t answer and answers that didn’t fit the questions.

Now, the managing editor will review my comments and make final decisions, and then a typesetter will figure out how to interpret the multiple layers of notes to turn the manuscript into “pages” (basically a PDF proof of the book), which will be checked and revised again before we go to print. And good luck to the typesetter, as you can see!

Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers will be published by the University of Michigan Press, expected in August 2012.

TESOL 2012: Making Grammar Choices in Academic Writing

http://youtu.be/_EsMHFwJ5kM

This is a recording of my session at TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia introducing my forthcoming textbook, “Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Students.” Thanks to the ELI’s videographer, Lowell Riethmuller!

This is a recording of my session at TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia introducing my forthcoming textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers from the University of Michigan Press (UPDATE: published, September 2012). Thanks to the ELI’s videographer, Lowell Riethmuller! You can also download the handout and other materials.

(Yes, I know the still image in the video frame looks like I’m performing a one-man show of Animal Farm, but I can’t seem to change it!  I’m surprisingly normal in the rest of it.)