This week: English: It's its own worst enemy!Edited by: Fyn
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Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, mustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succor, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
(Apparently excerpted from The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité.)
As an editor, by far the most common problems I encounter are with the issues that many spell checkers cannot understand. Therefore; the writer must. Thus a convenient list of some of the greatest offenders.
ITS: Possessive. Its jacket, its collar, is pillow.
IT’S: Contraction for IT IS. It’s cold outside, it’s too early, and it’s frustrating to see the two words interchanged.
THERE: a place. It’s over there, not right here. There is the tree.
THEIR: Possessive. Their jackets are on the chair. It's NOT SPELLED THieR!
"hint: “there” has “here” buried inside it to remind you it refers to place, while “their” has “heir” buried in it to remind you that it has to do with possession."
THEY’RE: Contraction for THEY ARE. They’re going to the store, over there, with their jackets on.
YOUR:Possessive. It is your jacket.
YOU'RE:Contraction for YOU ARE. You're driving me crazy!
Another biggie are the differences between 'effect' and 'affect.'
"There are five distinct words here. When “affect” is accented on the final syllable (a-FECT), it is usually a verb meaning “have an influence on”: “The million-dollar donation from the industrialist did not affect my vote against the Clean Air Act.”
Occasionally a pretentious person is said to affect an artificial air of sophistication. Speaking with a borrowed French accent or ostentatiously wearing a large diamond ear stud might be an affectation. In this sort of context, “affect” means “to make a display of or deliberately cultivate.”
Another unusual meaning is indicated when the word is accented on the first syllable (AFF-ect), meaning “emotion.” In this case the word is used mostly by psychiatrists and social scientists—people who normally know how to spell it.
The real problem arises when people confuse the first spelling with the second: “effect.” This too can be two different words. The more common one is a noun: “When I left the stove on, the effect was that the house filled with smoke.” When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it.
Less common is a verb meaning “to create”: “I’m trying to effect a change in the way we purchase widgets.” No wonder people are confused. Note especially that the proper expression is not “take affect” but “take effect”—become effective.
The stuff in your purse? Your personal effects.
The stuff in movies? Sound effects and special effects.
“Affective” is a technical term having to do with emotions; the vast majority of the time the spelling you want is “effective.”
Information for the above is gleaned from:
Common Errors in English Usage: The Book (2nd Edition, November, 2008)
Other helpful hints.
IRREGARDLESS IS NOT A WORD! Use 'regardless.
THIS one or these or those; Never 'these ones' or 'those ones.'
While someone, everyone and anyone are one word; no one is always two.
Another pet peeve of mine is that there are a number of words which in and of themselves mean two opposite things. Thus, when using them in writing, one needs to be sure that surrounding words make it clear to the reader which meaning is correct.
Cleave: I always get a kick out of this being used in wedding ceremonies:Cleave only to each other. Cleave means both to stick together and to cut apart.
Clip: To cut (as in hair or nails) and to attach (as with, say, a paperclip.}
Dust: as in to remove (remove dust from furniture) or apply (dust for fingerprints.)
Replace: as to remove (replace carpet) or to put back (as in replace a file or aforementioned carpet.)
Skin: as to remove a hide or covering (skin the deer) or to add a covering (as in an ipod or layer as in available skins at WDC.)
Trim: See clip above; trim a tree (as to decorate) or trim hair (which is to cut away) or 'be' trim as in a good shape having lost weight. So the trim woman could trim the Christmas tree she trimmed last summer.
Strike: To miss the ball (as in baseball) or to hit all the pins (as in bowling) or stop work (call a labor strike) or start working (as in striking a set or take it apart in the theater.)
I, personally, am extremely glad I didn't have to learn English as a second language. I found while learning (what little I know) of French, Spanish, Latin and Russian, that most other languages are logical.
An excellent website with all sorts of useful information is : http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors
Being as the 'Dear Me' Contest for 2011 has just concluded, I thought that I would use some of the submitted entries in all three of my newsletters this week. There were an amazing number of entries this year and perhaps reading through some of these will remind you of your resolutions or maybe re-inspire you to yours, or possibly, give you some new ideas!
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LOTS and LOTS of folks responded to my editor editorial!
GRAMPA ED writes:Fyn, Enjoyed this article on editing. I for one need all the help I can get and have my work edited. Although some times the editors publishers use are not very good. After my first book was published I found many more mistakes that should have been caught. My second book I do not think the publishers even checked it, they just published, period. My third book is now at and editors and I know this one will be done correctly. You just have to be very careful and research the company.
All too true. I know I try very hard to catch them all. Other side of the coin, I get some manuscripts that I'll make thousands upon thousands of corrections in. Bottom line, it should go to the pub as error free as possible and then the editor needs to triple check!
StephBee says: Fyn - I absolutely adored this newsletter about editors, what they do and what they expect. Thanks for sharing. An editor is your friend and writers need to realize that.
poohbear44843 adds:Wow, I get what you mean with the "right spelling, wrong word" thing. My friends make those mistakes all the time, not because it was a mistake but because they don't know any better. It's so annoying! You're right, can we say obvious? As an editor, you must have A LOT of patience.Thanks for the great newsletter.
Sometimes I think I should change my middle name to patience. Hmmmm Or 'patient' LOL
MarcoMann wonders: How would a newbie get an editor to consider reading his or her material?
Depends. Here on wdc? Ask me and if I have time, I'll give it a look see. Out in the pub world? The same way the rest of us do...write well, and keep trying.
Victoria Earle adds: A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold. As a technical writer and an aspiring novelist, a good editing job for my professional work or my fiction is very welcome. I tell my reviewers that I want to get any changes they have and that what I wrote is only to serve a greater purpose. You can't let it get too personal! The reader is the most important element in the equation and they deserve the very best! Or as Mark Twain would write it, the damn best!
Joe D questions: What should a writer do when TWO editors disagree on his/her book? One editor, who has already edited the work three times, claims it is ready, but the other editor claims more editing is needed?????
Think I'd a)ask for specifics, b) ask editor 2 what more is needed and then c) go over it again myself.
Mini says: This news letter just repeated a lot of what I and others said today. I edit during my free time and this clearly represents the views of editors. Great job!
Nice to know I got it right!
atwhatcost adds:That's the attitude that shuts me up when someone does detail what's wrong with my writing. Editors seem to think we come in two types, but we really come in more. I do understand they know what they're doing better than I do; however, I also understand even if my sentence wasn't clear, they didn't guess what it means right either. Because my response HAS to be one of those two choices, I accept whatever they say and then go back and try again - to get what I meant down right. Of course, in the rewrite after that assumption, I can't get it edited again, so just hope I was clearer the last try. Maybe if writers weren't all stuck in one of two classes, there could be more cooperation between editor and writers, instead of the "Yes, Mommy/Daddy" attitude writers must assume to get anywhere.
If an editor needs to guess what you are trying to say, then it isn't clear. If an editor can't, chances are a reader really won't. It has been my experience, as both an author and as an editor, that I write, I revise, I rewrite, I edit and then triple check my work before an editor ever sees it. I read it out loud, and proofread it. I'll read for errors and I'll read for clarity. Then it will be sent out. As an editor, I want the author's work to be the very best that they are capable of writing. I'll be blunt and I'll push, especially if I think they can do better. Win/Win situation when all is said and done. Worse thing to hear: "It is finished, I like it as it is.Don't touch it."
Northernwrites comments: Great newsletter! Thanks for the blunt information.
Thanks....sometimes, blunt is best.
DRSmith writes:Another HRun off the big bat of Fyn. You touched the bases, but a couple more to munch on. Editor roles could arguably be dual purpose: proof reading, and the other for critical literary contribution, both of which are important. I tend to look at editors as trusted mates; it's a union, a partnership, IE: like chefs. All have talent to cook, but some are best at fast food, others gourmet... thus, to be truly effective, that aside from proof read fixes, there needs to be a sense of working camaraderie whereby your editor not only has the savvy for the craft, but is also sensitive to the author's style, genre, theme, and have general feel for the piece where a second set of eyes will catch the ditty dingers, but also massage the author's momentum with invaluable input and inspiration, whether for minor yet effective wording to sometimes major changes in structure, alternative technique, add or delete entire chapters, etc. that can elevate a read from mediocrity to masterpiece.
Mara ♣ McBain adds: What a fabulous NL! I appreciate the information that you shared with us about a process that is foreign to many of us still chasing the dream. I know when I finish my WIP a fresh pair of eyes, especially a trained pain, will be a Godsend!
I love finding a willing pair of additional eyes! Makes all the difference in the world!
LeBuert makes a point: I still don't know if I wood like u to be my editor or knot? Are you always right? I've heard of many best selling novels being turned down by slow witted editors? Spell check hates my style of writin' and I knows it! PawPaw likes my chicken scratches, tho' so's I guess I'll be OK writin' sum of my stories like this'n? What's you tink about dat?
You make a valid point regarding those who write in dialects! No spell checker in the world can handle that. But then, that's when an editor qualifies that the story is better written in a particular vernacular and then, in my case, will add the 'new words' to the dictionary so I can be sure that there is consistency. However, using 'wood' for 'would' or some such...no, not so much! LOL
Oldwarrior requests:Excellent advice and well written. How would I find such a wonderful editor to peruse over my novels???
I suppose one could always ask. *smile*
wpg71 says:Well I just want to say this was a very inspirational newsletter for me especially your piece on editors. I am currently working on a novel and for the first time in my life I have actually accomplished writing 36 pages. I know that sounds like a drop in the bucket but through this site and motivational newsletters like this one it truly helps me. Thanks again. You're awesome!!
Thank you!! That really made me smile!
Winnie Kay adds:It is eye-opening to hear insight on editing from an editor's point of view, Fyn. You have clearly revealed the necessity of polishing one's work BEFORE it goes to the editor's desk. Many of my punctuation students comment that they don't really have to concentrate on something as mundane as a comma when an editor will take care of their errors. Thanks for this honest explanation of the true responsibilities and motives of an editor.
miller.ck adds: I fear I might tend to fall more into the "leave my shit alone" category.
What confuses me here is why you'd publish most of these books in the first place. Clearly the authors do not know the rules, and/or have written sloppily and lazily. And no matter how much an editor gets involved after the fact, that's still the foundation you're building on.
One of the reasons I no longer read or buy mainstream literature is that I feel it's all been homogonized and largely written by the publisher. Same book, different cover.
I have a friend with a novel coming out through Penguin. They changed her plot, her back story, dummied down her vocabulary extensively, altered perfectly fine grammar throughout, in short, almost totally rewrote it. And don't even get me started on their intrusions into her required second book. Where do you draw the line?
I edit for a mid-level publisher that is a pay to publish press. We offer editing, marketing, layout, non-template covers, illustrations and more. Do we make money off what they 'pay?" No. Do we make them buy all the books printed? NO. We make money on books sold in bookstores and online venues such as Amazon. That being said, no, not all the books that are published are of the Clive Cussler or Nora Roberts best-seller quality. Our goal is to make the book the best work the AUTHOR is capable of. If they learn a bunch in the process, all the better. If the book is its best, it will sell the most copies it is capable of selling given readership.
One benefit of a small press is that (at least in our case) we don't homogenize, rewrite, change plot-lines etc. I don't have time and it isn't 'my' book, it is the author's. I suggest changes/corrections and if they chose to keep mistakes, then there is a disclaimer applied. We also don't require 'x' number of books. I expect when it is a large publishing house, paying out a large advance, they have a bigger stake and more control. A trade off, I suppose.
RedWritingHood♡WDC adds: Love the Mark Twain quote! I also hope all my editors are like you
Awww, thanking you!
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