How do you spell mnemonic?

My dad was an English prof. He was a pacifist and a feminist. When it came to the grammar wars, an avowed descriptivist.

Back in the ’80s, he was already OK with the singular they. Though he did prefer to pluralize the whole expression whenever you could.

I don’t think he attended a New Year’s party in his life, but he always made an effort to show up for the Chinese New Year celebration his ESL students hosted. The language belongs to all of its users, he’d say. Everyone has a stake; the rules aren’t handed down from on high.

But he did have his things. I guess we all do.

If you handed him the dice, there better be two. When I showed him my grade 3 homework, it somehow became a lesson on copula verbs. And he never tired of intoning: “From here to there – take. From there to here – bring.” Or is it the other way round?

That’s not a memorable formula. There are two esses in dessert because you want to have seconds – that, I can remember. The principal is my “pal” – I suppose.

I have to look up stationary every time, though, because I can never remember if it’s an a like in paper or an e like in letter. Comprised you can pretty much assume is wrong. I sing the alphabet where it gets muddled in the middle. And for some reason, I can still belt out the double letters in Mississippi.

That’s about all my mnemonics. If you have any more, bring them on over. Or take them away!