The syntax sentinel
Time: 1-2 minutes
Before the Meeting
One benefit of Toastmasters is that it helps people improve their grammar and word use. Being grammarian also provides an exercise in expanding listening skills. You have several responsibilities: to introduce new words to members, to comment on language usage during the course of the meeting, and to provide examples of eloquence.
At the Meeting
Before the meeting begins, get a blank piece of paper and pen and get ready to make notes, or get a copy of the grammarian’s log, if your club has one, from the Club Secretary.
Briefly explain the role of the Grammarian.
Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. Write down any awkward use or misuse of the language (incomplete sentences, sentences that change direction in midstream, incorrect grammar or malapropisms) with a note of who erred. For example, point out if someone used a singular verb with a plural subject. “One in five children wear glasses” should be “one in five children wears glasses.” Note when a pronoun is misused. “No one in the choir sings better than her” should be “No one in the choir sings better than she.”
When called on by the general evaluator during the evaluation segment:
- Stand up and give your report.
- Try to offer the correct usage in every instance of misuse (instead of merely announcing that something was wrong).
- Report on creative language usage and announce who used the word of the day (or a derivative of it) correctly or incorrectly.