I rule!

Image via Rekord

DOL stands for Daily Oral Language (published by Great Source), and all English teachers at my school are asked/forced/begged to teach grammar in the following way:

Every day, students receive two highly dysfunctional sentences which they must correct.  Then we pray that they have learned grammar.  These sentences include the politically incorrect darnel dont have no reason too question them instructions but he does want a explanation for this here exam and although we had 25 inches of snow last Winter the bushes appear to be alright pedro noted.

Even with the aforementioned insipid grammar material in hand, one student asked a very interesting question today, after we had finished correcting the day’s sentences:

Why do we capitalize I?

Why, indeed?  After all, it is the only pronoun that we capitalize.  When did this tradition begin?  What are the social and political implications?  Inspired by this question, which I have never entertained, I Googled the matter, which led me to the highly interesting (and pretty darn funny) New York Times article, “On Language – Me, Myself, and I.”  (On a side note, the fact that the word Google has become a verb is another interesting grammatical factoid.)

This article first gives an overview of how different languages have handled capitalization in general, and then, more specifically, whether or not they capitalize I.  Then, the author, Caroline Winter, elucidates the history of the pronoun I in the English language, and gives an example of a culture (Rastafarian) which has changed this ubiquitous pronoun for the more spiritual “I and I.”  Finally, Winter dives into the political implications of the use of this pronoun in speeches.

This is a fantastic article that is pertinent to our students today while remaining entertaining. It can be used to discuss the importance of grammar in today’s world, as well as what changes in grammar represent or imply.  How’s that for daily oral language?

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One thought on “I rule!

  1. Thanks for sharing such a great article that is right up my alley! SO true about how we view ourselves in society… well, at least most of us :)

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