THE UNDERGROUND
GRAMMARIAN

Volume Three, Number Three............March 1979

Enough of this Love-making

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.

THE people whose words and thoughts we examine in this journal are not much troubled by what we say. A momentary embarrassment brings no reduction in pay; no academic career has ever been blighted by an inability to think and write clearly and correctly. On the contrary, the highest ranks (and salaries) normally go to those in whom the power of word and thought is most meager, since word and thought are the parents of deed, and only the piddlingest of deeds are required of those who administer in the schools.

The colleagues of our victims prudently refrain from laughing out loud in their presence. It's a form of insurance. We, of course, dream of the day when deans and vice chancellors, perhaps even learning "facilitators and curriculum coordinators, will be welcomed to faculty meetings with titters and giggles. That may take a while. In the meantime, it's up to you to laugh in their faces. It's up to you, as taxpayers and parents, not only to titter and giggle at their puerile errors but even to rant and rave at their pompous inanities. At the least, you can tell them that you know what they're doing. That makes them nervous.

It is a responsibility of the press to expose public things to public scrutiny. That's what The Underground Grammarian does. The writers whose inanities and barbarisms we expose and examine are people paid out of the public purse for the work of their minds and the words of their mouths. Most of them will claim, and quite without irony, for they take themselves very seriously, that they are fitted for their high callings by superior intellectual endowment and extraordinary academic accomplishment. We can, therefore, imagine no reason to be tolerant even of their small errors, to say nothing of their outrages of good sense and conventional decency.

If you chuckle at their ineptitude and do nothing more, they have the victory. If you fume decorously in the privacy of your study, folly and ignorance will flourish untroubled and unmitigated, and you will eventually get what you will deserve, a nation of mindless rabble incapable of judgment and easily ruled by the illogical notions and faddish devisings of self-appointed social engineers. In that day, we will understand Orwell. Where knowledge and reason fail, the pigs will lurch and waddle on their hind legs, and the other beasts will gawk in admiration and envy.

When we give you names and addresses, use them. Say what you please, but say it. These garblers of thought and language fear only one thing--an informed and irate public.

The faithful, industrious horse of moderation was carted off in the knacker's wagon. Now is the time for the tiger of wrath.

Sticht in the Eye Again

THE first thing you must learn, if you want to become a professional of education and earn big money from the taxpayers, is how to dream up cunning definitions for things that need no defining. As dull and stupid as that may seem, we urge you to persevere in its practice, for it is also the last thing you will have to learn. Many a splendid career in education has been built on nothing more than that one little skill, endlessly elaborated.

Of course, if you want formal training as a professional, we can only suggest that you keep checking the ads in match-book covers, but, if you're reasonably bright and willing to practice, you might be able to master this lucrative discipline/field/area in the privacy of your home. Here's how it works: If you persist in saying, for instance, that speaking is speaking, you can only be an unprofessional elitist. Your real professional says that speaking is "uttering in order to language." And what is uttering? Uttering is the "production of vocal sounds; i.e., sounds produced using the larynx and oral cavities."

Needless definitions are the natural breeding ground of silly neologisms. If you can come up with "to language," you can define that and sound even more professional. To language is "representation of conceptualizations by properly ordered sequences of signs; or the inverse process of understanding the conceptualizations underlying . . . sequences of signs produced by others." Now you trot out "auding," "listening to speech in order to language," provided, of course, that you have already defined listening as "selecting and attending to excitation in the auditory modality."

It's hard to believe that one educationist could do all that (and lots more) out of his own head, so we're guessing that Tom Sticht of the National Institute of Education spent plenty of time consulting what they call "the literature," a compendium of the inanities of other educationists. Sticht has bunched much such stuff into "The Basic Skills: A Frame of Reference," a "background paper" written at the behest of U.S. Commissioner of Education Ernest L. Boyer.

Since you paid for the thing, Boyer will cheerfully send you a copy. (He's at 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202. Tell him we sent you.) When you read it, you'll be delighted to find that Sticht has selected and attended to excitation not only in the literacy modality but in the "oracy" and the "numeracy" modalities as well. You'll learn about the improvement of affiliations among linkages, and you'll meet the amazing BAPS [Basic Adaptive Processes] that go by the names of Hearing, Seeing, Motor Movement, and Cognitive. (Yes, he does think of Cognitive as a noun.)

If a man came to your door trying to peddle that kind of stuff, just how long would you aud his languaging before sneaking off to the telephone to call the wagon? If he told you that he had it in mind to do something or other to your children, something designed to affect their oracy, would it not seem good to you to provide him with a BAP in the oral cavities? Academic questions, to be sure. In fact, you bought all of this stuff long, long ago, and, although you have paid and paid, you will never be done with paying. Long, long ago, you gave your children to the peddlers to do with as they pleased. Now that the children are more ignorant than ever, you turn, naturally, to government, which turns, naturally, back to the peddlers.

The Pavians, having given half their wealth to the Visigoths to defend their city against the Ostrogoths, and the remaining half to the Ostrogoths for like service against the Visigoths, found that they could no longer afford to live there, except, of course, as servants to the newly rich barbarians, all of whom turned out to be related.

A Hardy Perennial

WE like to refresh our spirits at least once a year with a visit to Stanley B. Yeldell, one of Glassboro's most interesting and original authors. He has the honor of being the first writer ever to be studied in this journal. In fact, if it weren't for Stanley B. Yeldell, there would be no Underground Grammarian. It was his memo of October 20, 1976, that gave us the idea. We like to think that it was some such thought our president had in mind when he recently granted tenure to Stanley B. Yeldell over the objections of the Faculty Senate Committee on Tenure and Recontracting. (They're a notorious passle of nitpickers, anyway. They'll hardly ever recommend more than about 96 percent of the candidates.)

That took courage, and we thank our president for it. Although he can't admit it, he supports our cause, and he knows how hard it is to find enough interesting rubbish to fill these pages month after month. One does not lightly send packing a writer good for at least a column a year, and certainly not at the capricious whim of a few envious colleagues, many of whom will never provide us with so much as a single paragraph.

Furthermore, that annual column costs the taxpayers, at current salary rates, a measly $14,506. That's peanuts. Most of our writers cost more than twice that much. Even if he stays on until retirement and gets the usual raises and promotions, Stanley B. Yeldell may still cost no more than a million dollars.

The last time we looked at his work, he was interested in "economical characteristics that have an impact emphasize such vice crimes of an organized nature; Gambling, Prostitution, Drug Traffic, Pornography, etc." This year, he has narrowed his focus and developed further his theory of creative capitalization:

This course will examine the Legal Aspects of Prostitution and the problems that Law Enforcement Officials are having. Also, this course will examine the various types of prostitutes [hmm?] and the policy considerations that are articulated by Prosecutors. Moreover, the course will examine organized crime impact on Prostitution and whether the crime should be extinguished by the legislature.

We don't know much about prostitution, or Prostitution either, but we know what we like. We do want to examine the problems the Law Enforcement Officials (LEO?) are having rather than those they're not having. Also, we do prefer the Legal Aspects of Prostitution (LAP?) to all others. (Isn't aspect a neat word? No one ever asks what, exactly, it means, and it's such a refreshing alternative to factor.) Moreover, it's good to see (feel?) another impact, although "crime impact" isn't quite up to the standards of "emphasize impact." Furthermore, although "examine" and "also examine" and "moreover examine" should, in this kind of prose, lead inevitably to "furthermore examine," he did get three out of four.

And, in addition, let's note that this is just the kind of course we need at Glassboro, where Basic Minimum Prostitution Competence is disgracefully low. There probably aren't more than a handful of students who could name the various types, never mind examine them. Let's hope that those short-sighted, meat-ax wielding meat-heads in the legislature don't choose to extinguish this kind of course. We need all the life-skills we can get.

_______________

 

TWO VOLUMES AGO, we expressed certain unpopular views about those members of the academic community whose degrees seem to "have been earned by clerical labors rather than sustained, written scholarship," saying:

These cut-rate professors are more informed than learned; they put faith in every trend without having explored the merit of any tradition; they know "findings," not lore; they have "perceptions," not understanding; they are "innovative," not original; they are enthusiastic about the "relevant," ignorant of the permanent. Their knowledge of the great history of thought is so scanty that when they have any ideas at all they imagine that they have discovered fire, and visit upon us plagues of novelties and gimmicks.

True. Some people just love an innovation, any innovation, and they love especially any gimmick that might pry some money out of our pockets.* Hoping to pry a small benefit from their frenzy for fads, we will occasionally print Curiosity Corner, a sampler of quaint educational notions from other times. These ideas will be old enough that the professionals of education, never having heard of them, will think them innovations. They will knock each other down in the rush to write proposals for grants. Since the grant-givers are themselves retreaded professionals of education, they'll give; and some of our tax money may well be diverted in a good cause.

This month's Curiosity Corner comes from the works of Minnie L. Smith, a teacher, long dead. Earth, lie lightly.

Curiosity Corner

An elementary knowledge of Latin will make you secure in your use of English and will ensure you against many common slips and errors. Furthermore, you will receive a training in accuracy, application, memory, and reasoning which will help you to think straight in school and in later life.

Teratology

LaFayette Parker is Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC 27102. On January 18, 1979, fearing that faculty might goof off during the first week of the new term while the students were still shopping around for easier courses, he sent out an admonishing memo. No timid equivocator, he said right out, by jing, that "there is some truth in the notion that good teaching strategies influence learning." Wow. With like forthrightness and vigor, he explained why the teachers should teach their classes even before the students had finished shopping:

If those who are not present learn from those who are present that excellent teaching strategies and organization and meaningfulness in helping students learn that which they must in order to achieve, they will be encouraged to, deal seriously with the situation.

A copy of that memo went upstairs to the Chancellor, Douglas Covington. Was he, do you think, encouraged to deal seriously with that situation?

_______________

 

People do strange things in New Mexico. It must be something in the water. Last month we had Berne and Zekowski, dynamic duo of feelings-expressing. Now we have an unnamed, successful candidate for a Ph. D. (!) in the College of Education at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, where the granters of such weird degrees (in guidance, no less) are untroubled by dissertations that sound like this:

From these studies and concepts it seems to this researcher a short extrapolation to the prediction of transpersonal innovations from self-actualization traits defined by the Personal Orientation Inventory.

We will think up a handsome reward for the grammar guerrilla who can find a name and address for "this researcher." We'd like to give him one of our adorable little degrees.

The Underground
Grammarian

Published monthly, September to May
R. Mitchell, Assistant Circulation Manager
Post Office Box 203
Glassboro, New Jersey 08028

Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune,
whose words do jarre,
nor his reason In frame,

whose sentence is preposterous.

* At Glassboro, people boast of their achievements as redistributors of the public wealth. Next month, we'll take a look at the thought and language to be found in some of their successful proposals-about $1,670,000 worth just now. back


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