The Grammar Grotto

Grammar grotto

Aaron Ralby, LinguisticatorThis past weekend, I moved house within Cambridge. It was a challenging move, as I have a lot of equipment and business supplies: everything from video lights and backdrops to boxes of maps and shipping labels. I also have a fair number of books and grammars. Most visitors to my previous house remarked at how sparsely it was decorated, as I usually leave walls bare. One room, however, was lavishly decorated. My employees affectionately named it the “Grammar Grotto" - see image on left.

Our language maps make excellent decorations, and the kind of decorations I like — ones with both beauty and utility. If I ever wanted to compare one section of a map to another, I'd simply go into the grammar grotto and walk around the room, checking and comparing forms. A huge amount of work toward completion of new programs took place within this room.

Key to pinning the maps on the wall have been actual map hangers. These are plastic strips with grooves specifically designed to hang maps and posters. If you are based in the USA, Amazon sells a more robust hanger that maintains a rigidly straight line. It opens like a jaw and clamps down on the map edge. It also comes with attachments that allow you to hang the whole rail from one or two hooks (provided) on the wall. If you already have a nail or hook on a wall, you can simply use that.

If you are in the UK, there are cheaper, but also somewhat flimsier, poster hangers that you can get in the right length for our language maps. These require you to slide the map in from one edge. I usually use a coin to pry open the plastic hanger, get the corner of the fabric in, then carefully slide the whole map the rest of the way across. Hanging these is a bit trickier, as they are much flexier than the clamp available in the USA. I tried using blu-tac, but that doesn't hold very well. I eventually ended up just using a tack through the fabric below the plastic rail on either side and one in the middle. This was quite effective, and looked nicer than just tacking the map directly to the wall, as it was hard to get it to hang straight without the plastic hanger. One nice thing about these, though, is that they come with both a top and bottom rail. If you're not fussed about the bottom edge of the map, you can use one order to hang two maps.

I haven't yet set up the grammar grotto in my new place, and probably won't be able to create the same kind of continuous display, but I certainly have lots of maps around me all the time!

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