As a young student, I actually ENJOYED diagramming sentences in grade school. I don’t know why. I just heard the parts of speech and was interested, most likely because I loved books and writing. I used to LOVE to read and write and do so correctly. One of my moist poignant memories was in Fifth Grade, Mrs. Cox was my teacher. She was the “old, getting ready to retire, or die at the blackboard” cliché: gray hair, thick glasses, formless dresses, about 950 years old (I think I overheard her telling another teacher that she dated Methuselah). I was prone to fits of temper and quite stubborn at that age. She asked me why I was not doing some assignment that was in our book. I replied, “I ain’t got no pencil!” She lit into me, which was her nature, but she seemed more upset that I didn’t say “I don’t have a pencil.” Well, that was somewhat embarrassing and, other than in situations where I’m clowning around, I make sure my spoken grammar is close to proper written English.
Where this brings me to Campbell and Bain, is that without them, the abhorrent “double negative” would have never been noticed and hunted into extinction. The road maps to the treasure at the center of comprehending a complex sentence could never have been found without “sentence mapping,” I know it’s diagramming, but then my metaphor loses force. I think we’re allowed to get away with “not citing” things in our journals, but the definition for metaphor and how it works begins on page 30 of Bain’s English Composition and Rhetoric. I was so happy to discover that book in ENG555 because I always wondered who it was I should blame, curse, praise and admire for their organization of English.
I will admit, I read more of Bain during the Module, but that is because I was able to find a copy of his book through “Forgotten Books” who essentially print out scanned versions of very old or long out of date books.
The United States Army offered this definition, “Leadership is the ability to influence others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation.” If you take that apart, you essentially wind up with something very close to Bain’s introductory paragraph about persuasion: “Persuasion, or Oratory, is the influencing of men’s conduct and belief by spoken or by written address.” So all those years I was “creating leaders,” I was actually just following Bain’s admonishment and definition. “Good show, ya auld laddie!”
Bain’s role at his university also seems to mirror the role I had of teaching soldiers. He, however, was teaching the rustic northern Scottish young men, as Winifred Bryon Horner discusses on pages 40 and 41 in The Norton Book of Composition Studies. All these years, and I never knew I had a common bond with someone like that. I had to take kids who could barely speak anything that sounded remotely like English, who couldn’t form a cohesive paragraph and teach them, at a minimum, to “speak and write Army.” Military writing, supposedly, is only equivalent to the level of an eighth grader. I remember inserting “interesting” words into lesson plans or scripts, just to aggravate my colleagues. “Damn it, Rick, you can’t put that word there. No one knows what it means!” One specific role for an “Insurgent Team Leader,” I put down that his occupation in “real life” was a lapidary. My defense was that if words exist, we should USE THEM!
Nonetheless, I did occasionally receive punishment for knowledge of various play on words, such as spoonerisms. I actually received counseling for inappropriate behavior by referring to someone as a “Futher-Mucking-Diff-Snicker!” I ignored the incident – the Sergeant First Class who wrote me up on that was a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. He also wrote me up for bragging about the chickens we raised in Texas. I told a female Drill Sergeant that I had a “big red cock.” I did. His name was Geraldo and he was in charge of our little flock of laying hens. When role-playing and I had to “delay” or try to “stall” the “interrogator-in-training,” sometimes I would tell them that I needed to masticate. The cheap thing about that is that it is a war crime to not allow a detainee to eat, so, I could make the learning point and get them to understand what masticate means, or I could simply write them up for “violating the law of war.”
Yes, I know I ramble, but consider – if that man had put in as much time learning about his NATIVE language as he did bulking himself up at the gym, these misunderstandings would not have occurred.
What I find interesting about Campbell’s life is that his initial focus was on liturgical speaking. Of course that needs to be persuasive in nature and content. In the opening paragraph of our assigned reading in The Philosophy of Rhetoric, “…there is always some end proposed, or some effect which the speaker intends to produce in the hearer…”(23) Campbell then provides the four ends of speaking; “every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions or to influence the will.” (23) Essentially he spells out what we call in interrogations the “approaches.” A Direct Approach simply asks questions and obtains a truthful response; this equates to “enlighten the understanding.” When the emotions are brought into play that is when the “please the imagination and move the passions” happen. Oh, how I wish both books had been required reading for us “back then.”
I’ve written too much. I’m glad Campbell and Bain standardized our language. I’m glad they kind of “set the anchor.” By that I mean that no matter what happens with teaching pedagogy, there will still be constants and fixed ways of doing things.
Thanks for reading!