In a single day of reading, copying, pasting, and generally mulling over usage guide entries, grammar songs – such as Conjunction Junction and that one about pronouns – occur to me more often than I care to admit. Although these ditties are obviously fantastic, mental renditions become irritating in a hurry. Fortunately, my repertoire of grammar songs is becoming increasingly difficult to trigger. But this experience also made me curious about a few things.
First, I wonder whether there are similar (or different) grammar songs for children in other countries/languages? If you happen to know of any, please share! I searched for something similar in Dutch and found many wonderful songs for children and several comical sketches on language use – but no grammar songs. Dutch readers, have I missed them?
Second, how influential was/is the usage advice provided in these songs? And how often are they referenced in usage guides published in the last decades? I recently came across an entry which was relevant to these questions in the humorous usage guide Mortal Syntax, by June Casagrande. She includes an entire entry based on the song Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here. The entry – on beginning a sentence with Therefore – is funny and informative. She also suggests at one point that the adverb song has led many Generation X-ers to discriminate in favor of “ly” adverbs, effectively leading the public to believe that “therefore,” “here,” “however,” “now,” “nevertheless,” and other members of the class are not adverbs (2008:46). In the same entry, Casagrande defends the usage advice provided in the adverb song as being inclusive. I concur. On the other hand, the nifty ‘-ly adverb attachment’ featured in the song is arguably more memorable than its actual lyrics.
Finally, I wonder whether these Schoolhouse Rock! songs were/are also popular with English-speaking children outside the U.S.? The Wikipedia entry for the program only mentions that it was broadcast nationally, but perhaps there are readers of this blog who have rocked out to these songs in other countries as well – or have children or grandchildren who have done so. If this is the case, I’d love to hear about it. Grammar Rock on!