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For grammar geeks: 'Grammar Revolution' the documentary

For grammar geeks: 'Grammar Revolution' the documentary
Watch: A trailer for the documentary "Grammar Revolution." (Grammar Revolution)

Be careful where you put that preposition.

Prepositions, participles, who and whom and more are the focus of the new documentary "Grammar Revolution." The film was made by two former teachers, David and Elizabeth O'Brien, and completed with a $22,000 Kickstarter campaign. It's a feast for grammar geeks.

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The movie features a lineup of star grammarians, as much as there are star grammarians. They include Columbia University professor John McWhorter, author of "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English"; Brad Hoover of the website Grammarly; Harvard linguist Steven Pinker, whose latest book is "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century"; Lucy Ferriss, writer in residence at Trinity College; and Noam Chomsky, the 85-year-old political activist who began his career as a linguist.

If those aren't quite Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts, that's probably OK: "Grammar Revolution" isn't competing against them at the multiplex. The film is screening Wednesday night in Aliso Viejo for free and is available online as an $8 download.

What's in the movie? A discussion of grammar in contemporary society -- why it's rarely taught, what should be taught, what students hunger for, and the real-world expectations of proper grammar usage.

Despite its Ivy-League commentators, it's not all that academically rigorous. "There's a good deal of slippage here, from grammar through usage, syntax and diction all the way to regional accent," Ferriss writes at the Chronicle of Education's Lingua Franca blog.

"I think it could be very popular with a general audience," David O'Brien told the Chicago Tribune while shooting the movie. "Language brings up all sorts of fascinating issues and questions that are part of everyone's life. It's quirky and subjective and borderline political and it's really easy to be self-conscious about. It's inherently interesting."

Book news and more; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

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