The other day I received a delightful book in the post: Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences (2006) by Kitty Burns Florey. (It’s in the same humorous vein as The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (1993) by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.) Diagramming sentences became all the craze in the States back towards the end of the 19th century owing to a book written by two fellows, Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg: Higher Lessons in English: A work on English Grammar and Composition, in Which the Science of the Language is Made Tributary to the Art of Expression: A Course of Practical Lessons Carefully Graded and Adapted to Every-day Use in the School Room (1886, revised edition 1896). Diagramming remained a stable of English grammatical pedagogy up until Chomsky sounded the death knell to structural linguistics in the late ’50s.
I noticed on her site that Ms Florey is coming to Mrs. Dallow’s bookstore in Berkeley on November 20th. I’ll have to attend her talk.