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Diagramming sentences is one of those lost skills, like darning socks or playing the sackbut, that no one seems to miss.
And, in an occasional fit of nostalgia and creeping curmudgeonhood, I return to those golden afternoons when a roomful of kids sat down with Sister Bernadette's barking dog and scratched it behind the ears.
In its heyday, sentence diagramming was wildly popular in grammar schools across the country. Kitty Burns Florey learned the method in sixth grade from Sister Bernadette: "It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was a picture of language. I was hooked." Now, in this offbeat history, Florey explores the sentence-diagramming phenomenon, including its humble roots at the Brooklyn Polytechnic, its "balloon diagram" predecessor, and what diagrams of famous writers’ sentences reveal about them. Along the way Florey offers up her own commonsense approach to learning and using good grammar. Charming, fun, and instructive, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog will be treasured by all kinds of readers, from grumpy grammarians and crossword-puzzle aficionados to students of literature and lovers of language.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)
A study of the origins and evolution of the sentence-diagramming phenomenon examines what diagrams of famed writers' sentences reveal about them and their works and offers the author's personal approach to learning and using good grammar.