Wednesday, January 04, 2012

"It's Only Words.....and words are all I have..."


Words, astrologically, are province of planet Mercury. My natal Mercury is in Capricorn. Most of the time I try to be fairly disciplined in writing style, down to earth, not given to poetic paragraphs or vicious verbiage. I am not a verbal painter.

Capricorn isn't as pernickety as Virgo when it comes to perfection in the wordsmithing department, but Mercuy in Capricorn stands next in line as stickler for verbal accuracy.

Oddly enough, though, split infinitives don't bother me, inaccurate punctuation, as long as there is some, doesn't bother me nor does bad spelling, as long as the word is recognisable. This partial laissez-faire attitude must come from my Aquarius Sun, I guess....or maybe from Venus in easy-going Sagittarius.

Some inaccuracies or sloppy usage do constantly irritate this Capricorn Mercury. For instance:

Over-used words, these especially prevalent in the USA. I realise this is one result of a national craving for for bigger and better - hyperbole at its worst! Even so, synonyms are easily available:

I'm excited to.....

As C.S. Lewis said
Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Words/expressions over-used by journalists and pundits which could well be either not understood at all, or misunderstood by readers and listeners:

dog whistle issue
hot button issue
kool-aid drinker
wedge issue
let me be clear..... (President Obama says this - a lot - and he is never, ever clear!)

But then, even from the best of 'em:
If we can boondoggle ourselves out of this depression, that word is going to be enshrined in the hearts of the American people for years to come.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Words pronounced wrongly (to my English ear)

I say sublime - they (or some of them) say "subleem"
I say (when speaking of a gown style with high waist) empire - they say "ompeer"

Inaccurate use of words: - everyday online one can encounter:

affect and effect muddled and used incorrectly. Affect is a verb, effect is a noun.

Correct preposition to use with different is FROM; different to, or different than are incorrect.

Worse, worst, and use, used....I'm not sure how these strange mistakes come about, but certain writers who ought to know better don't seem to realise that worst is the superlative of worse; and that, for instance, "she used to play the piano" is correct, "she use to play the piano" makes no sense at all.

"Would of", "should of" instead of the correct: would have or would've; should have or should've. Tsk - this one is BAD!

"Very Unique" ...if something is unique, it's unique, one of a kind - it cannot be "very unique".

Writing, stringing words together, in a comprehensible way, is a discipline and a craft; stringing them together in an inspirational, beautiful or poetic way is an art. My quibbles in this post relate to the first stage, the discipline and craft of ensuring that words can be properly understood. Perhaps I'm too demanding though? On the topic of writing in general a favourite quote, from a writer I've long admired: S.J. Perelman (1904 - 1979) puts it this way:
"If, at the close of business each evening, I myself can understand what I've written, I feel the day hasn't been totally wasted."


Anonymous said...

GP: How good your Sun in Aquarius and Venus in Sagittarius do their work. In years to come there will be need formuch more linguistic tolerance, mostly do to the net and easy communications (when the net works).

PS. On your post about the Thatcher movie: One can bet that not many Argentinians will spend a Peso to go and see it. They already could not stop crying after Madonna's movie on Evita Peron...

Diane said...

Don't forget they're, there & their. As a former legal secretary and wordsmith, mistakes in spelling & usage do cause irritation but agree with Anonymous re: "linguistic tolerance". Accept lower standards or stay PO'd all the time. You may not think yourself a word artist but in addition to your political posts I look forward to your music and art posts as well.

libramoon said...

Fairy Tale

A memory of haunting nostalgia
I cannot not touch it, taste it, hold it, know it, breathe it
Still it picques me at the corner of my eye, below the level of perception.
The words escape me.
One must be very careful of words.
They hold great power, mystic and legal and personal.
Words can weave a whole world, a whirl of worlds, a wild wind of words
They can create reality for those who get caught up in them.
The right word at the right time can catalyze miracles.
The right word at the wrong time can destroy the eternal.
How might I find the words to capture my dream, my destiny?
Enter the Fool upon the Precipice, prattling ditties of the daily airwaves.
She is whirling blithely, eyes upon a distant rainbow, breathing in clouds
Breathing out daisies and daffodils and a brilliance of pansies.
She is dancing to her own symphony, entranced in her deepest essence.
Without thought, without prayer, without a government authorized identity
There are no guarantees, no happy ending.
There is a tale I try to tell.
Its point escapes me, withering into fairydust.
I breathe in the poisoned air, drink the poisoned water, eat the poisoned food
Like a desperately swimming fish in a polluted bowl, like a creature of the streets eating garbage,
Like a child.
The pattern is corrupted, but I follow it as best I can.
I have been told that if I can properly put the pieces in place
All will be revealed; all will be peace and beauty and love.
The pieces of my shattered heart.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~ Yes, indeed!
As we communicate more and more freely between nations, cultures and languages, those of us anchored in the English language will need to ease any expectation of perfection, and stand aghast at the brilliance of polyglots like yourself, GP, who can deftly juggle several languages with great aplomb. :-)

Re Thatcher and Argentina - agreed! At the time of the Falklands charade she was at her vicious worst. I sighed a bit too about Madonna's Eva Peron - she was so wrong in that part... I love the musical.

Twilight said...

Diane ~~~ Oh yes their/they're/there - common errors, and somehow easily made on the keyboard- more easily than with pen and paper I think.

I too worked with lawyers and judges for most of my working life, a little bit of their formal style has possibly crept into mine.
Their ease with the language, and use of 100% accurate words for the situation always impressed me though.

Thank you! I enjoy researching all those posts - music and art are less blood pressure raising than researching US politics, so I do try to limit how many times I venture there. :-)

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~~ Aha! Now here's a verbal artist! And a credit to a beautiful Libra Moon.

Thank you for those lovely words!

Vanilla Rose said...

A very unique comment - sorry. Joking. Hate it when people misuse "unique" too.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~~


Kaleymorris said...

Well, I was going to post a single word comment (Persnickety!) but I looked it up and see you are correct from your point of view.

I have always admired the ability to string words together into something lyrical. My favorite passage:
"Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe."
Ah, Mr. Lennon.
He also said, "We all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun. We all shine on."
I miss him.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~~Hi! Ha! Another word the USA has, erm, adjusted! Didn't realise there was a US version. :-)

Those are beautiful words by a guy who could not only paint verbally but musically too. One of my favourite songs from the Fab Four.

Kaleymorris said...

Funny thing: After I wrote that comment, I discovered the Wikipedia page for the song "Across the Universe." It explains that the inspiration for the opening lyric was a jabbering wife and how she sounded to her unreceptive husband.
Kinda takes the romance out of it. Some things I'd rather not know.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~~ Oh dear! Well, at least it proves that Lennon was as human as the rest of us - honest too. He needn't have admitted that little piece of truth. :-)