Weird Al Joins the Grammar Police

Recently Weird Al has made a resurgence, apparently releasing eight videos in eight days, and so far I have really enjoyed watching his new videos “Tacky” and “Word Crimes.”

I love that “Word Crimes” brings to our attention to the lack of proper grammar usage in America. The video makes fun of grammar mistakes such as confusing the concepts of less and fewer and pronouncing the word espresso as “expresso” (I may or may not have been guilty of that one).

Weird Al also points out that “B C R U are words, not letters. Get it together!” Toward the end of the video, he even encourages those who cannot communcate coherently to just use emojis instead. I wonder if grammar has always been such a struggle for students/adults, or if it’s more difficult now because we are confused by the jargon and abbreviations technology has introduced. Another possibility – are our grammar problems just more public now, since the internet displays and archives every user’s posts, entries, comments, tweets, etc.?

No doubt this fall, in classrooms across America, teachers will fire up YouTube and show “Word Crimes” in class. What an engaging way to bring students into the conversation about how we use (or fail to use) proper grammar. It brings to mind the beginnings of an idea for a performance task: What if students are commissioned to help research the sequel to “Word Crimes” for Weird Al? Their job is to present Weird Al and his team of writers with a list of ten top grammar mistakes, even including some ideas/sketches for how to portray those mistakes in the sequel. One step further, what if students drafted some lyrics or created their own full-length parody using grammar rules and mistakes? What other ideas are possible?


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