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gertrude

April 2014

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Hints for writers

rexharrison

A new little series on how to please me, the reader.

Here are some lines from a lovely My Fair Lady song:

Her smiles, her frowns,
Her ups, her downs
Are second nature to me now;
Like breathing out and breathing in.

Here it is rewritten by 8/10 modern authors:

Her smiles, her frowns,
Her ups, her downs
Are second nature to me now;
Like exhaling and inhaling.

Exhaling and inhaling begone! (unless you’re describing someone smoking). Most of us breathe in and out, like Professor Higgins.

Comments

It was so apt to read this, this morning! I've treated myself to as many back-issues of the Persephone Quarterly as were available and have been reading them avidly (and adding to my Christmas wish-list!)
Anyway, there was a reprinted article by B.R. Myers, an American critic, complaining about the state of contemporary American literary writing, and this was just the sort of thing he seemed to be annoyed about! I don't know how I could let you see it... I think you'd enjoy it!
The article sounds good; I'm glad it's not just me who gets so irritated.
I do think that this is one of the ways that American spoken English is different from ours though. I was surprised to find that people do actually talk about beverages, rather than drinks, for instance. I blame the SATs (though I may be unfair to do so) with their focus on learning long words to expand vocabulary.
That's interesting, because 'beverages' for 'drinks' is another of my bugbears!

(Anonymous)

Is this perhaps the Myers' piece?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/07/a-readers-manifesto/302270/

Worth reading! Thanks for the link.
That is, indeed, the article! Thank you so much for posting the link!

One of my pet hates (and I have MANY), is the mis-use of the word 'decimate' to mean almost completely destroy, rather than to take out one in ten, which isn't nearly as bad!

John, my DH, is a associate lecturer with the Open University and is always having to tell students that they should write as clearly and simply as possible. So often they think that 'academic writing' means using as many big words as possible!

(Anonymous)

The majority ... more often than not misused, but what's wrong with most?
And meet up with ... grrr. Head up, even worse.
I remember working with a woman (American) who would ask to have sight of papers and files.
Yup, never use one word where three will do.