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Rated: E · Editorial · Writing · #2286322
Here are a few writing pet peeves I have and also a question for my fellow writers.
Greetings fellow writers! On the whole, we writers possess an above average appreciation for language. If you do not respect and even love your language, then you should probably consider a different hobby or profession. I make the same suggestion to people who enjoy disemboweling small animals before killing them. If you don't love words and the use of them, then you are certain to mangle them with your quill or pen or typewriter or keyboard.
         Every activity has its own set of rules. Driving a car requires us to maintain the proper speed, signal when making a turn, and so forth. When we do not observe the rules for whatever reason, we cause accidents. Such is also true of writing. A basic set of rules allows us to maneuver safely from our thoughts and feelings to our reader's thoughts and feelings. Writing is a transportation of ideas which, in some case, also carries emotions. When we don't obey the basic rules, we cause accidents. The man was riding a mule and he stank and had flies buzzing around his butt. Did we intend to write that the mule stank and had flies or were we trying to insult the mule-rider? Use of a rule or two would clear up any ambiguity and possibly spare us an unpleasant discussion with the man.
         Having written all that, I assume that we are all agreed that it is occasionally necessary to suspend the rules or switch to an alternate set for a time. When driving a car, it is sometimes necessary to use an alternate rule set, such as when one is driving in a race. Limits on speed are defined not by signs, but by the usefulness of hazards of speed to being the first to finish the race. The same situation arises in writing.
         "We are endeavouring to locate suitable accommodations," said the ambassador. That works fine, but imagine the same sentence spoken by a drifter. The word we're looking for here is "incongruous" or perhaps we want the phrase "out of character." The drifter might use language like, "We're scoping 'round for a decent flop."


Now, my question.

         As a writer, how much difficulty do you have writing colloquialisms and other speech variances which involve abberations of standard English?
         I put the same question to those whose first language is not English. Every language has its own syntax and grammar. When you write (or read) in your native language, do abberations from the standards of your language pose a problem for you?

         Frankly, all languages as well as the general concepts of language and communication fascinate me. I've tried writing poetry in Spanish (which I feel is a beautiful language when I'm not being strangled with it), Scots Brogue (itself, a variance of English), French (another very lovely language) and Italian. I've also considered writing something in British English, but I really need to study that language more to be able to do so. I've heard it said the Britain and the United States of America are two great nations divided by a common language.


         5}Now, here are my writing pet peeves. These bother me whether I read them in memes or newspaper articles or essays written for any class, whether it's a writing class specifically or another class which requires writing.

Then for Than
"I like orange marmalade better then I like strawberry jam."
This is such a common switcherooney! I commonly grit my teeth when I encounter it.


Apostrophe to Form Plural
Signs in stores often read, "Camera's In Use." This could be intended as warning that a camera's [camera is] in use, but the signs seem to generally be trying to indicate the use of several cameras throughout the store. Plurals are not formed with apostrophes, but I often see an apostrophe used to pluralize a family name, as in the Bailey's. I growl at many Christmas cards. So, be forewarned.
         Oddly enough, the apostrophe-to-show-possession rule does not apply to the word 'it'. "A polar bear is known for it's whiteness" should be "A polar bear is known for its whiteness."


To - Too - Two
Please, select the proper spelling for your intended use of this homonym before the train leaves the depot.
My wife and I have a very dear friend we've known for many years. We love her and we love getting letters from her, but we oft wish we had a Navajo code-breaker when we read her letters. She writes, as Holmes once said of his brother Mycroft, "...like a drunken crab." Most of the time, she uses too as a preposition, "going too the store." Occasionally though, lest we become too comfortable while translating, she uses 'two' as her preposition as in, "It's going two be a cold winter."
This was one of the easiest spelling errors for me to avoid when I was in elementary school --- a couple decades ago.
"He's going to the store. I'm going too. The two of us are going together." Easy-peasy!


An for And
I see this one most often in texts. "An" is an article but "and" is a conjunction, and an article doesn't substitute for a conjunction. Just don't get me started about usng Eng n txts an tht srta thng. K?

         I honestly don't intend this editorial to be a general criticism. I'm sure you all see that I'm far from perfect myself. In fact, the previous sentence isn't technically perfect. The pronoun 'you' can be singular or plural, which makes the addition of 'all' redundant or at least superfluous. I use that word out of (bad) habit. Growing up in this area, I managed to break myself of the too-common y'all, but I can't seem to completely shake the 'all'.
         I want to empower those who truly want to craft readable poetry, short stories, novels, and class papers to do so. I want to give them the tools they need and share my own knowledge. Beyond that, I just wish to point out to (or remind) those who would rather be great authors and wordsmiths than mediocre word hacks or worse --- just plain typists, some of the more common errors. I've absolutely nowt against typists, but good and great writing comes not from any device alone. It comes from the careful use, and at times misuse, of language. The goal of a true writer is not to put words onto paper. The goal is to put thoughts into other minds and feelings into other souls. Anything less is just scribbles.


NOTE: I will likely add to this kennel of pet peeves as time goes on.



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