East Carolina University
Department of Psychology

Thesis/Grammar Humor

    You are so excited about your thesis or dissertation research.  You are confident that it will be the best ever and will be published in a top tier journal.  Good for you, but keep in mind that the final product is likely to be less than you had wished for.

    Now, here are few funny tips on writing in general, a news story about an an event that sounds like the sort of nightmare students writing theses often have, and a parable stressing the importance of choosing the correct person to direct your thesis -- but first, watch this short video about intolerance of bad grammar:  Grammar Nazis .

Rules for Writers (by William Safire)
combined with
Newsman's English (by Harold Evans)
submitted by Johnathan R. Partington <JRP1@UK.AC.CAM.PHX>

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Remember to never split an infinitive.
8. Contractions aren't necessary.
9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10. One should never generalize.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
13. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. Be more or less specific.
15. Understatement is always best.
16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
18. The passive voice is to be avoided.
19. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
21. Who needs rhetorical questions?
22. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
23. Don't never use a double negation.
24. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point
25. Do not put statements in the negative form.
26. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
27. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
28. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
29. A writer must not shift your point of view.
31. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
32. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
33. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
35. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
36. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
37. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
38. Always pick on the correct idiom.
39. The adverb always follows the verb.
40. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Harry is getting along in years and finds that he is unable to perform sexually. He finally goes to his doctor, who tries a few things but nothing seems to work. So eventually the doctor refers him to an old Gypsy medicine woman.

The medicine woman says, "I can cure this."  That said, she throws a white powder in a flame, and there is a flash with billowing blue smoke. She collects the ash, then she says, "This is powerful medicine. You can only use it once a year. All you have to do is say '123' and it shall rise for as long as you wish!"

The guy then asks, "What happens when it's over, and I don't want to continue?"

The medicine woman replies: "All you or your partner has to say is 1234, and it will go down. But be warned - it will not work again for another year!"

Harry rushes home, eager to try out his new powers and prowess. That night he is ready to surprise Joyce. He showers, shaves, and puts on his most exotic shaving lotion. He gets into bed, and lying next to her says, "123."

He suddenly becomes more aroused than anytime in his life just as the medicine woman had promised. Joyce, who had been facing away, turns over and asks, "What did you say 123 for?"

And that, my friends, is why you should never end a sentence with a preposition.

From: bartleby@cats.UCSC.EDU (Bryan Strong: Psychology / UC-Santa Cruz)

Regarding student excuses, our local newspaper reported this AP story: A student mailed his master's thesis from Japan to Cal State Dominguez Hills but school officials thought the package was suspicious. They called the LA County sheriff's bomb squad which blew up the package, only to discover that it contained a music thesis and accompanying cassette tape. The university has allowed the student an indefinite extension.

Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 15:53:27 -0500
From: Lee Vermont <lvermont@UWIMONA.EDU.JM>
Subject: Doing a thesis.

SCENE: It's a fine sunny day in the forest, and a rabbit is sitting outside his burrow,  tippy-tapping on his typewriter.

         Along comes a fox, out for a walk.

FOX: "What are you working on?"
RABBIT: "My thesis."
FOX: "Hmm. What's it about?"
RABBIT: "Oh, I'm writing about how rabbits eat foxes."
         (incredulous pause)
FOX: "That's ridiculous! Any fool knows that rabbits don't eat foxes."
RABBIT: "Sure they do, and I can prove it. Come with me."

         They both disappear into the rabbit's burrow. After a few  minutes, the rabbit returns, alone, to his typewriter and resumes  typing.

Soon, a wolf comes along and stops to watch the hardworking rabbit.

WOLF: "What's that you're writing?"
RABBIT: "I'm doing a thesis on how rabbits eat wolves."
         (loud guffaws)
WOLF: "You don't expect to get such rubbish published, do you?" ,
RABBIT: "No problem. Do you want to see why?"

         The rabbit and the wolf go into the burrow, and again the rabbit returns by himself, after a few minutes, and goes back to typing.

SCENE: Inside the rabbit's burrow. In one corner, there is a pile of fox bones. In another corner, a pile of wolf bones. On the other side of the room a huge lion is belching and picking his teeth.

(The End)

MORAL: It doesn't matter what you choose for a thesis subject.
                It doesn't matter what you use for data.
                What does matter is who you have for a thesis advisor.

snake on a stick

spider in web
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This page most recently revised on 7-October-2019.