Friday, March 18, 2016

Laaaanguage Police

I don’t claim to be a perfect writer. Nowhere in my bio does it say “writes with perfect grammar so suck it.”

Because, if I did write like a scholar, that last sentence wouldn’t have ended in a pronoun tied to nothing. See? The “it” I wish for people to suck is undefined, therefore, once people accept my statement about my writing, they’ll probably run off willy-nilly sucking on who knows what.

Ah crap, I ended in another pronoun…

Despite all the rules of English grammar, I do take a considerable number of liberties in the style of writing, the voice, I use in this blog. Because words flow from my brain straight onto the page. I write what would come out of my mouth if I were having a casual conversation with a friend.

My goal over here is that you read and actually hear my voice in your head. No filter.

That means tons of dangling participles, ending sentences on prepositions, run-on sentences, liberally applied adverbs, and a host of other broken rules. Why? It’s not because I’m a rebel, it’s because of what I already said. Voice.

And when’s the last time you sat around chatting with somebody like this:

“I wish for those who read my perfectly parsed, grammatically correct blog posts, to suck on the object of their choice now that they understand the level of my greatness.”

Or something like that, like I said, I break so many grammar rules on a daily basis that sentence up there is probably a jacked up mess too. But hopefully you get my point.

Colloquialisms and a person’s overall lexicon are what let you know you’re reading an authentic piece written by the person you want to read.

Now, with my ‘general lack of caring for perfection in written words’ defined, there is one thing that happened last night. Something that almost put me over the edge with its blatant disregard for the forming of words.

Because, let me be very clear, ending in a preposition is something I don’t care about. (<-- See?) However, if you screw with the rhythm of words or their pronunciation I’m going to go insane.

Some examples of this include:

Opossum. The animal is not a ‘possum’. It didn’t come over on the boat from Ireland, lined up behind O’Flannery, and heard from the folks at Ellis Island ‘sorry but we’re dropping the O’. In fact, when you look up ‘possum’ in the dictionary the first definition is opossum. See for yourself.

Next, I must define the term first. There are two ways to say this: either, another whole, or a whole other. Nother is not a word. So much not a word that Word red squiggles it as misspelled. Hello?

Sharks. No, this isn’t a joke. Think of all the ways you could butcher the word ‘sharks’. I’ll wait. Anything? Well, if you’re a fan of the San Jose, California hockey team you’re on my language watch list.

Last night all I could think of was this scene from Love Actually:

Because every Sharks fan in the building (including the extremely vocal, cheering fans behind me who I swear were trying to pop the vein in my forehead) seems to think there’s an extra syllable in there.

“Let’s go Sha-arks!”

No. A thousand times no.

Sharks. Say it with me one more time. Sharks. One freaking syllable.

And hey, I get it. Sometimes it can be difficult to cheer for your favorite team when all the clap-clap-clap-clap-clap cheers are built on a second syllable.

As a Bruins fan, life is easy. Two syllables. Let’s go chants don’t take thought or creativity. Let’s go Bru-ins! Two syllables, split at the vowels as it should be.

As a Coyotes fan I can understand the issue though. Coy-o-tes. A three syllable word. Uh oh. Do we take Billy Mack’s advice and cram an extra syllable into our enthusiastic cheer? No. We got creative and used the nickname of our team to slide right into the clap-clap-clap-clap-clap.

Let’s go Coy-otes. (Phonetically: Kai – oats)

The spelling remains the same we just took the emphasis off the second syllable, bunched that syllable into the third and turned the whole thing into two syllables instead of three.

Yeah, I know. Even typing it out loud makes me kind of mad at myself for supporting the transition.

But I won’t apologize because we didn’t add syllables where they don’t belong.

Sha-arks is not a word. Nobody has ever said “I was swimming in the ocean and saw a sha-ark!” People have said “I was walking in the desert and got tracked by a coy-ote.”

Of course, maybe I was just bitter that said double syllable team had just beat the Bruins a couple days prior but I don’t think so. Because, after the Yotes took last night’s game, handily with only a couple minutes left in the third, I left the building happy for the win but happier I didn’t have to yell out “Sharks is one syllable!” to the entire arena anymore.

Language police, off duty.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.


River said...

I've just bought your Creative Writing Kickstart-kindle version. I'm hoping it will help. I write only short, incomplete pieces on Fridays, following a Words for Wednesday challenge. Perhaps the ideas in your book can kickstart a longer piece that may one day evolve into a book.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

That's awesome River, thanks so much for picking it up! Please do me a favor and keep me posted, if you write a book or anything that you plan to publish as inspired by any of the ideas in CWK I would LOVE to read it! Even small steps forward still keep you moving toward your goal :-) Best of luck!