Friday, June 10, 2011

A Loss for Linguists and Language Learners

Just heard the sad news that the co-creator of Mad Libs, died on Tuesday. Leonard Stern may be better-known as the television writer, producer and director of shows including "The Honeymooners" and "Get Smart", but the role he played in teaching many children the parts of speech is equally, if not more, important.

I have even used Mad Libs in Introduction to Linguistics classes at the colleges where I have taught, though instead of asking for a noun I would ask for a part of speech that can be inflected for number and case; instead of a verb, a part of speech that can be inflected for tense, aspect, person and number; and so on.

Here is an excerpt from Leonard Stern's Los Angeles Times obituary that includes information on the inspiration for creating Mad Libs:

The idea for Mad Libs came to Stern and co-creator Roger Price in 1953. Stern was working on a "Honeymooners" script and was stumped for a word to describe Ralph Kramden's new boss' nose when Price dropped by.

As Stern recalled in a 2008 interview with Publishers Weekly, "I asked Roger for an idea for an adjective, and before I could tell him what it was describing, he threw out 'clumsy' and 'naked.'

"We both started laughing. We sat down and wrote a bunch of stories with blanks in them. That night we took them to a cocktail party and they were a great success."

1 comment:

Susan M. Ebbers said...

Mad Libs can be hilarious. When I was a teacher, they were always a hit. Thank you, Leonard Stern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...