Monday, 27 February 2017

Driving Force Behind College Book Loves Her Grammar

Few things are more precious than communication.  That’s why the nuts and bolts of language not only make for compelling study; they have also become a more pressing issue in recent years.  As we know, the quality of students’ achievements hinges on the quality of the work they tend for grading.  Perhaps no one appreciated the gravity of this issue more than Senior Instructor of German Studies Rosemarie Finlay—so much so that she sought to do something about helping students gain a greater grasp of English grammar. Dr. Finlay was instrumental in the development of the recent College publication St. Paul's College: Facing the New Millennium.

For two years, she and alumnus of University College Johnny S. Geddes [’96, BA] set to work in constructing a grammar guide that could access students at St. Paul’s College, helping to hone their writing skills while presenting English grammar in a more user-friendly light.  It would not be long before the scope of the work was to expand to include students across the University.  As Mr. Geddes explains, the scale of the challenge involved more than just writing a guide book:

“Grammar guides tend to inhabit a realm of the universe toward which few but the most intent seek to tread.  We knew—long before we entered the design stage—just how high the climb would be.  Popularising grammar was a great part of the journey.  Everything that went into that book fell into one of two layers.  Indeed, the rules are all there; however, alone, they’d be limp and dry.  So, the entertainment aspect came into play—Revisiting English Grammar is laden with humorous situations, bringing those ‘austere’ regulations to life.  Lastly, we realized we couldn’t go without taking matters up a notch or three, and that’s where the last four chapters kick in.  Indeed, we included an in-depth style guide.”

Revisiting English Grammar is a comprehensive guide for university students and school leavers. Written for and tested extensively by students at the University of Manitoba, it offers an in-depth treatment of both the basics and the finer points of English grammar, while its later chapters show users how to compose more powerful sentences.

Revisiting English Grammar explores the full range of topics related to the study of English grammar. In the process, it uncovers a wealth of difficulties that frequently stump even the most confident speakers for whom English is the first (if not only) language. At 180 pages, this is a compact but exhaustive guide; better still, it is written in a style that is light and accessible.

Johnny Geddes calls Revisiting English Grammar “the University of Manitoba's very own grammar guide, much needed by students." He explains: "The students themselves played a significant part in its creation. Co-author Rosemarie Finlay’s and my brief: to produce an English grammar guide with the potential to improve students' skills and reduce frustration upon entering university. Two years’ testing our prototype upon volunteer students did the rest; they played a big part in optimising the design of our - and their - book.”

British writer John (Johnny) Geddes lived in Winnipeg from 1987 until 1997, gaining his B.A. from the University of Manitoba. His debut novel Souls of the Southern Stars appeared before he acquired his M.A. in Biography at Buckingham University. Geddes founded the composition-enhancement service 'The Text Vet' in 2004. While still in England, he saw two more books published before moving to Florida in 2011.

Rosemarie Finlay, a native German speaker, long domiciled in Canada, has devoted her professional life to introducing University students to German culture. In addition to her Studies of 20th and 19th Century writers, she has taken a special interest in German as a second language for English speakers. She is a Senior Instructor in the German and Slavic Studies Department at St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba.

The book is available for purchase at the University of Manitoba Bookstore, McNally Robinson Booksellers,,, and St. Paul's College.

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