Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am


The History News Network comment boards are not for everyone's taste. They are, occasionally, a little yeasty. After an early lengthy siege there, I noted that the quality of the debate ranged "somewhere between a dreary faculty meeting and the Jerry Springer Show." Yet, as Thomas Jefferson believed it would, the great demos occasionally churns up real talent.

A recent, unlikely debate raged, off topic as usual, over the inclination of some professional historians to refer to ourselves as"an historian." We (I profess myself to be ambidextrous on the issue, swinging both ways as the mood strikes me) were challenged by a group of grammartocracists, who mocked our ungrammatical pretensions. Appeal to all sorts of authority would not settle the issue. As I recall, my friends, Jonathan Dresner at Hawaii and Derek Catsam at the University of Minnesota, Manketo, were most active in defending"our pretentious ans." (If you are ever in a good bar fight, by the way, do hope that Derek Catsam is on your side.) Anyway, the grammartocracists finally got the last and best laugh with this post:

Subject: Professor Catsam Stars in A Play
Posted By: Grammarian Again
Date Posted: December 9, 2003, 8:58 PM

Professor Catsam is walking down the hall of a classroom building at Mankato when a student rushes toward him.
Student: Professor Catsam, I lost two of my books! I don't know what to do. I am so upset.
Professor: Gloria, now don't get too upset. Which books can't you locate?
Student: Oh Doctor Catsam, one is for economics and the other is for YOUR class.
Professor: Hmm. My class huh?
Student: And with exams coming on, and everything, I feel so abject and helpless.
Professor: Now let's see what I can do to assist you. Let's take a walk together on each of the three floors and see if we can't find them for you.
Student: Really?
Professor: Sure, we are here to help you.
Professor Catsam and Gloria are walking up the stairs, through the halls and up the stairs again when Professor Catsam stops suddenly.
Student: Doctor, what is happening, are you ok?
Professor: In the corner, LOOK , in the corner, LOOK I can see it! There is AN history book.
Student: A Whaat?
Professor: An history book! An history book. I found it for you.
Student: You are so kind dear professor, but should it not be"a" history book?
Professor: No Gloria, according to Bill Safire, It is"an history book."

NB: Luker's policy on quotations from HNN comment boards: You post there anonymously and I have no obligation to get your permission to quote you. Sign your name, as Catsam does, and I ask permissions. I asked; Catsam gave permission, indicating that he thought this bit of mockery delightful.

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