First, of all the celebratory haiku and faux-haiku selected by the NGD judges in this year's contest, the one I found totally irresistible was a mischievous rebuke to humorless prescriptivism submitted by Tom Freeman (no relation!):
People shouldn't sayWords to live by.
"I could care less" when they mean
"I could care fewer"
Also, because another National Grammar Day will be here in less than a year, I'd like to suggest that the language blogosphere take up a question Arnold Zwicky returned to in a recent post: What to call the mess of issues we lump together as "grammar" -- "the domain that takes in spelling, punctuation, choice of inflectional form, word choice, syntactic usage, and actual grammar?"
Zwicky wishes we could disentangle these separate issues, but "if you really have to have a term for the great grab-bag of linguistic peeve-triggers taken together, I suggest garmmra," he says.
Zwicky is a whiz at naming -- see Recency Illusion and Frequency Illusion -- but I'm having trouble getting my mind (and tongue) around garmmra. I appreciate the appeal of anagramming, but the word is so un-English that I can’t remember where the r’s are supposed to go. (In fact, one commenter on his blog suggests that garmmra sounds like the name of a 1950s Japanese movie monster.)
So I've been looked for alternatives -- words that sound something like grammar, but are actually English and (more or less) suitable as labels for the “usage/spelling/punctuation/vocabulary/grammar” category of popular peeving.
How about gammer, for instance? It's "A rustic title for an old woman," says the OED, "the female counterpart of gaffer," probably derived from "godmother." Suitable for a language category replete with old wives' tales, no?
Or gammon, though it may be a bit too pejorative in its obsolete sense: "ridiculous nonsense suited to deceive simple persons only; ‘humbug,’ 'rubbish.'" (Possibly related to gammon "ham," but evidence is lacking.) “A Student’s Guide to English Gammon” has a certain ring to it.
Grimmer, maybe, or grubber(y)? Or we could press usance into service (replacing usage, which has other work to do). Or modify Safire’s gal pal, Norma Loquendi, and call her realm normalingo. Or how about lexiquette, to remind everyone that language is all about consensus, not eternal verities.
Eleven and a half months is barely enough time to get started. After all, if naming the usage-spelling-punctuation mess were simple, copy editors -- who deal with most of its components -- would surely have coined a more impressive title for their trade. Maybe their jobs would be safer today if only they’d thought to call themselves ortholinguists or lexperts.