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Archives for March 2013
Blogging offers writers great rewards. We get to share our words with others. We educate and entertain. If we’re really lucky, our blogs generate income or interest from book agents. To do any of this, however, you need readers, and in the early days of any blog, readers are hard to come by. [Read more…]
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No one is perfect, and I bet that even sticklers for grammar make lapses now and then. The good old principles of the dynamism of language and Mere Exposure Theory are at work here. I have to admit that I can think of some people who won’t want to admit that publicly, though.
Over the weekend, I was catching up on some Elementary, a TV series with a modern take on Sherlock Holmes. I was again made aware of how language evolves. In this particular episode, Sherlock is revealed to use text speak when sending text messages. While I make it a point to avoid that myself, I have to admit that there are times when I find myself shortening words. Whether it’s laziness or a quest for efficient texting, some will find it unacceptable.
What I’m getting at is that there are so many factors that can contribute to improper grammar. I’ve identified three. Let me know what you think.
A couple years ago, I wrote a piece on how some song lyrics are incorrect grammatically. Lady Gaga was the main culprit, thanks to “I want your love, and I want your revenge. You and me could write a bad romance.”
Against the whispers of my heart, I had to include Sting as well with his famous lines “Every little thing she does is magic. Every thing she do just turns me on.”
Undoubtedly, hearing – and singing – songs like these two can easily, gently nudge us toward the world of improper grammar. Unless we’re vigilant. Then again, as I said before, Sting’s songs are just too fun to correct and then sing along to!
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do, it’s hard to ignore the grammar mistakes found left and right. I swear, I even heard Dr. Sheldon Cooper make a mistake at some point! I wish I had written it down because I cannot remember it, but I was so aghast to see a chink in the armor of that character! Can you think of TV show characters, news anchors, DJs, and other media personalities who might be contributing to the grammar lapses of their viewers?
This is not a new debate. Tech speak and texting have been blamed so many times for the decline of the use of proper grammar. Researchers have not arrived at an unshakeable conclusion, though. Here’s an infographic which leans toward the idea that tech speak is to blame.
Those are pretty convincing arguments, but I still believe that there’s a place and time for everything – including tech speak. That does not mean that I don’t see the dangers in getting into the habit of using such language!
How about you? Do you agree with these “bad grammar bears”? Do you have any other negative influencers on your list?
This morning, I just read – again – an old article published by The Atlantic Wire. Titled “A Literal Epidemic of Crutch Words“, the article highlights words and phrases that we tend to use loosely, both in formal and informal conversation. Going through the list, I couldn’t help but think that writers are not exempt from leaning on crutch words and phrases.
Here are some of the phrases/words that I see often – and might have a beef with.
Exponentially. “How could you leave out exponentially, a crutch word that might be used accurately once in a thousand times? Something grows exponentially when it grows by the same factor repeatedly over many periods of time, as in compound interest or the population of rabbits in the absence of predators. The exponent can be negative as well, but when used as a crutch the speaker never is referring to that aspect!”
Going forward. Better to give an actual implementation/start date to which one will go forward, because save a time machine, we are not going backward. A commenter says of this one, simply, “Ugh.”
If you will. One commenter marks it as the sure sign of a whopper, making an example of Dick Cheney: “They’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
In fairness/to be fair. The thing about life is, nothing is, though your sense of justice in in the right place. But also, why be fair? Just be sure of what you want to say.
There’s more where those phrases came from, but be prepared to feel a sting or two if (when?) you see your crutch word/phrase made fun of. The truth hurts, but the chances are you have you own set of phrases and words that you automatically use for certain scenarios. I think I have dwelled on this topic before, and I am the first to cringe whenever I see myself overusing words such as “actually”, “truth be told”, “at the end of the day”, and “awesome”.
What does it mean if you use crutch words?
I don’t think it means you’re a bad writer. It probably just means you need to read more, shake up your writing a bit, and stop working on autopilot. That’s what I have been telling myself all day!
What are your crutch words?
Image via Darrelhoff