Poster exposes "A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels"

A detail from a poster, sold by Pop Chart Lab for $29, which diagrams the opening lines of 25 famous novels using the Reed-Kellogg system for breaking down the grammatical construction of sentences. [via Wired]

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  1. My mom taught English. I was her student in 6th grade. She taught sentence diagramming, not the most popular module in her class. Later, when assigned to write our own concrete poems (you remember, those ones that make shapes with the words), one kid diagrammed sentences like this:

    I hate diagramming sentences

    Grammar is annoying

    I can't remember if he diagrammed the sentences properly or not, but I thought it was so clever.

  2. Old says:

    Poetry is dull
    But if you must write something
    Choose Haiku it's short

  3. Worse than any math class, diagraming sentences was one of those super-dull, will-never-do-it-in-real-life things that I was so glad to put behind me forever.

    And I've been published since then.

  4. I loved diagramming sentences. Before I learned to diagram sentences, I was convinced that English grammar was composed of 10% orderly rule-following and 90% exceptions and special cases.

    Being able to draw out diagrams cast a whole new light on grammar for me. This technique drove home the idea that every word has a place. The rules were still complex and fraught with peril, but diagramming gave me a way to order them. This was the mental model by which I learned.

    Most people don't seem to care for this skill anymore, but it certainly helped me.

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