Doge meme wins over judges in Grammar Day Haiku Contest

March 4, 2014 By Mark Allen Contests and Awards

Judges had a clear favorite in the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. The winning entry whimsically combines doge words and the because x construction for a nontraditional approach to grammar:

Wow. Very poem
Amaze syllabifying.
Because #grammarday.

(If you’re not familiar with the doge meme, it’s somewhat inscrutable. But here is a primer: 

Nancy Friedman (@Fritinancy), a name developer in San Francisco, submitted the winning entry. She blogs about language as Fritinancy ( and is a regular contributor to Visual Thesaurus. Here title is “chief wordworker” at her company, Wordworking.

“I was inspired by Gretchen McCulloch’s ‘A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge’ and by the American Dialect Society word of the year for 2013, because,” Friedman said in an e-mail. “Put them together and what do you get? Five syllables, seven syllables, five.”

This is not Friedman’s first brush with haiku fame. She won third place in last year’s National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest, and she won a haiku contest in 11th grade.

“I won a copy of ‘A Treasury of Modern Verse,’ whose tattered remnant still has a place of honor on my bookshelf,” she said. “In college I wrote sonnets – in English and in Spanish. Yes, I was insufferable.

“These days I occasionally write rhyming toasts and silly song lyrics. I may try writing a piem for Pi Day (March 14). ”

Friedman wasn’t alone in doge-thinking. Rachel Kamins (@MsKFlax) went for the full effect with the requisite Shiba Inu photo when she submitted this entry:

doge haiku. amaze.
much brief. such japanese.
very poem. wow.

Judges preferred a different treatment by Kamins for second place in the contest:

Neutral third-person
singular pronoun: I hope
someday we’ll find them.

“I look forward to the day when ‘they’ is fully accepted as a gender-neutral singular pronoun,” Kamins said in an e-mail. Kamins is a copy editor for the Federal Reserve Board in Washington D.C. and also does some freelance copy editing.

Julie Linden had a more traditional haiku to capture third place:

Birdseed scattered on 
melting snow. Ellipsis points
between winter and spring. 


Fourth-place went to Tom Freeman for a warning about self-editing:

Editing yourself
Is like cutting your own hair
You will miss a bit


And for fifth place, Lisa Cherett (@LCherrett) had:

Dreamy ellipsis
three little dots unfettered
and floating away…


Here are the rest of the top 10, including another entry from Friedman:

Nancy Friedman @Fritinancy

Yes, “ain’t” is a word.
Look it up in Webster’s Third.
Your peeve is absurd.


Miranda M. Boring @MirandaMB3

is bad text grammar
to blame for my lonely nights?
never gonna no.


Stan Carey @StanCarey

Hints at a hidden truth: the
Glamour of grammar.

Tony Noland @TonyNoland

Your words are sunlight
proper grammar acts like a
freshly washed window

Shauna @shaunarum

The proofer’s lament:
Readers can’t see your catches—
only what you missed.


All winners receive the adoration of their peers and the respect of all who celebrate National Grammar Day. The first-place winner also receives a year’s membership in the American Copy Editors Society, books contributed by National Grammar Day host Mignon Fogarty and National Grammar Day founder Martha Brockenbrough, and a choice of mug, T-shirt or tote bag from Mark Allen’s @EditorMark shop on Cafe Press.

The esteemed judges for the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest were:

•       Arika Okrent, (@arikaokrent), winner of the 2013 haiku contest  language writer for Mental Floss  and The Week and author of In the Land of Invented Languages.

•       Martha Brockenbrough (@mbrockenbrough), founder of National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of “Things That Make Us (Sic)” and the young adult novel “Devine Intervention.”

•       Adrienne Montgomerie (@scieditor), certified copy editor, editing instructor, instructional designer, “Canadian, Eh?” columnist at Copyediting and voice of the Right Angels & Polo Bears podcast on editing.

•       Henry Fuhrmann (@hfuhrmann), assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, where he oversees the copy desks and serves as standards editor.

•       Gerri Berendzen (@gerrrib), copy editor, Editorial Production Coordinator at the Quincy Herald-Whig, American Copy Editors Society board member and moderator of the #ACESchat on Twitter.

Check out the official National Grammar Day website for more March 4 activities.

The complete list of entrants is here.

For your reading pleasure, here are a few more haiku that caught the eye of the judges and organizers.


Larry Kunz @larry_kunz

I love good syntax,
clean prose, and can’t stand faulty


graywyvern @graywyvern

i write not for you
passers-by, but for the gaze
of a thousand years


Julie Linden @julieatlife

I bite my tongue.
I count to ten. I don’t (out loud)
correct your grammar.


John McIntyre @johnemcintyre

Between you and I,
sometimes it’s just too easy
to taunt the peevers.


Tom Freeman @SnoozeInBrief

If you have free reign
Trade your kingdom for a horse
Rein homophones in


Tom Freeman @SnoozeInBrief

Fertile zeugma makes
Meanings grow in two branches
And the reader’s mind

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