The Grammar Chicken was born behind the scenes of a quirky, hilarious, probably-going-to-hell-together editorial newsroom, when the copy editor (that would be me) was attempting to explain the difference between lay, lie and laid to a co-worker. Struggling to make it clear, I looked it up and found a picture with two chickens – one laying an egg and one lying down, reading a book.
At first, I was like, “Why would you need chickens to explain this?”
And then I was like, “What if we explained everything using chickens?”
Henceforth, whenever someone asked me to clarify the difference between two homophones or whenever I found a mistake that made me laugh aloud, I’d sketch a quick doodle of chickens and tape it to my desk beneath a note that read, “Please refer to the chicken for all your grammar needs.”
Why is The Grammar Chicken always red and blue and shaded with pencil? I use the same Paper Mate editor’s pens when marking page proofs at the newspaper. I always have red and blue pen marks on my wrists at the end of a long day of edits.