Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meditative Parts of Speech

I used to diagram sentences for fun. I did it for hours. From the age of ten to thirteen, it was something that pleased my brain in a way that little else ever did. That adolescent time is so awful, so awkward and ungainly, but sentences: they always made sense. Even the longest ones could be stripped down to their most essential parts, identified, categorized, labeled, and pinned like parts of a butterfly.

I filled whole notebooks with diagrammed sentences. While other girls drew horses or scribbled their first names next to various boys' last names, I separated subjects from predicates, adverbs from adjectives, hanging them from precarious-looking lines and rewrote them entirely if I ran out of room on the page.

It made me pretty popular, I can tell you that. Between the knitting, the glasses, the braces, the acne, and the tendency to obsess over parts of speech, I was a preteen CATCH. And now, looking back, I don't think I even possess the skill anymore. I'd have to brush up on the rules before I broke out the old diagramming pen. Much like my mad spirograph skillz, my diagramming abilities are rusty.

But just thinking of those notebooks, filled with words (it didn't matter what kind of words -- I was home schooled during part of those years, and I remember diagramming Latin sentences, too), calms my heart rate. It was a meditation of sorts, and I didn't know it.

I just did it because I loved it.

(Photo source)

7 comments:

Lisa Hughey said...

huh, diagramming sentences had the exact *opposite* effect on me. :) i suck at it.

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh this just made me light up with joy. know what i did for fun? calculated square roots of random numbers down to many decimal points. I just put that into a scene in a book in fact. i think that swirling churning unquiet young minds may not make you popular but they make you interesting...

Kristin Miller said...

Glad to know I wasn't the only one! When I taught 10th grade English I'd get excited beyond words for "Grammar Fridays" while the students moaned and groaned. Oh, it was so much fun! And I'm not a nerd or anything either...*ahem *cough *choke

camille@minichino.com said...

I'm with Sophie. I solved equations for fun. It didn't make me popular -- but I'll bet when Sophie did her calculations, the guys thought it was hot!

Camille

Martha Flynn said...

you are crazycakes. i kind of love it.

L.G.C. Smith said...

Great post. :) I only diagrammed sentences as part of learning transformational grammar, and it was hell. It was different from this. Who knew any kind of sentence diagramming had such zen potential?

Kaye George said...

I love it, too! In fact, I've been thinking lately of using this to tame my mystery plots. Haven't actually tried it yet, but it might work. I used to use this same form for writing computer programs. Really!