Saturday, May 16, 2015

Words, Words, Words!

Let's just start by saying that I love words - specifically the written ones.

I love the way they fit together, make sense of the nonsensical, evoke emotions, and generally allow us to explore and discuss the world as we know it. I love their rhythms, their sounds, and the many layers of meaning and context we can discern through careful word choice. Because of this, I can get a little passionate about some things that other people might think inane.

Take the Oxford comma, for example. I love it. I remember sitting in my sixth grade classroom and listening to the teacher explain why it was necessary to use a comma for every part of a list. At the time, I had no idea it was called the Oxford comma or even that there was as much of a debate around it as there is. (If you don't know what I am talking about, you probably have more of a life than I do. Congratulations. I envy you.) But now, I am a staunch supporter and will defend my right to use it until the end.

Because of this love of word craft (and a strong internal censor that prevents me from getting past a page or two should I personally attempt anything fictional with a beginning, middle, and an end), I started editing books. I help other people polish their words/stories into the best that they can be. (Which has immediately made everyone start looking for errors in my posts... which I am sure they will find. No one is perfect, and I am usually a little emotionally driven when writing on here, which doesn't lead to the best attention to detail!)

It is rewarding and interesting work - if at times requiring an eye-crossing amount of focus. But it can also make me want to shout from the rooftops that just because two words sound similar when you say them, it doesn't make them interchangeable. (Homonyms might just be the death of me.) Or that apostrophes don't make things plural! And when rooftops are not available, sometimes social media has to do.

This post is to emphasise that there are many of us out there with a highly-strung grammatical compass; for those of us who suffer from this affliction, the internet is a pretty scary place.

Admittedly, all of this might make me the person that most other people roll their eyes at. Instead of posting pictures of cats/dogs/children or political rants on Facebook, I am the one posting grammar related sayings and comic strips. I can't help myself.

So, take pity on your grammar conscious friends. Know that we don't mean to be pedants any more than you mean to post pictures and videos of animals doing "funny" things fifteen times a day. We are human. I promise. And when we get into one of our moods, smile knowingly and nod your head whilst backing away slowly unless you want to be caught in our maelstrom. (In which case, we are always up for a good debate!)

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