Friday, November 02, 2007

Hoorah for Colbert King

When We Were Young

It was the year in which Arkansas' governor, Orval Faubus, called out the National Guard to stop nine black students from entering all-white Central High School in Little Rock.

No commas should surround "Orval Faubus"; it is a restrictive appositive. You must make it coincident with "Arkansas' governor."

Colbert King has done the best of any NYT or Washington Post writer whose grammar I have reviewed.

I think I know why. I, too, just celebrated my 50th anniversary of high-school graduation. We students in those years still had formidable English teachers who drilled grammar and punctuation into our heads and wouldn't pass us until we learned the lore. They used even diagramming to make us see what they were talking about. Those magic years in education seem to be gone forever, alas.

Colbert King has always been one of my favorite writers at the Washington Post. Now I know why. He speaks for my generation and reflects the tough standards we survived in high school English.


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