Things Our Schoolteachers Told Us
For many of us, school consisted of a series of “You better nots”: You better not be late for class, you better not talk in class, and you better not do countless other things of the same ilk. English classes were more of the same: You better not end a sentence with a preposition and, even more ominously, you better keep your sentences short! Twenty words, perhaps. Thirty words at the most!
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our schoolteachers have jettisoned these admonitions; and today’s grammarians assure us that we can safely end sentences with prepositions and write long sentences. But where did these admonitions originate? Like many well-worn adages, they sprung from an intuitive appreciation for how we process written language.
For a half-century, psycholinguists have probed how we process words. Many of these probes involve how we read words starting and ending sentences. As we approach the end of a sentence, for example, our eyes move more slowly when a nearby period comes into focus. Psycholinguists call this the “wrap-up effect;” our eyes tell our brains that we
Article from Latest – Reason.com