Not only do people phrase themselves awkwardly all the time, they also make grammatical errors frequently. I do so on a daily basis! Here are a number of examples that I have plucked from various threads.
Let's have an English lesson and see if you can spot the errors in each one.
"So, anyone who doesn't agree with your ignorant comments are branded sheeps?"
(Clue: There are 3 errors)
"Lawmakers most certainly have a place in many doctor/patient relationships, abortion being just one of them."
(Clue: There is 1 error)
"Oh, she also didn't notice that the sleek shape of the body board in it's cover...."
(Clue: There is 1 error)
I get annoyed at myself all the time for my lack of attention to my grammar and punctuation. Also, English is such a colourful language, and few of us fully embrace the range of words available to us. At least you, Anne, were trying to draw from your bank of vocabulary instead of merely saying "That is a good question".
Generally, people are slammed if they choose to use words longer than 2 or 3 syllables, as it tends to make other people feel less intelligent. This is a great pity, I think.
I thought I put this in a new thread, I think this could be an interesting discussion.
I find it very hard to find the appropriate word for me, as I studied English in school and only really learned it when I came over to Ireland. And I don't like sitting in classroom and going through grammar and stuff, I like to learn language by speaking them. I usually try to figure out the meaning of a word and then use it in a context I think it fits and watch the reaction. But that does not really work in written language.
And since I started writing in English I realised how bad my vocabulary actually is. Not to mention my grammar, but thankfully I have my friends who read through my stuff and come back with suggestions, including wrong grammar and style (or give me a kick in the head if I am being stupid, but that's another matter). I really appreciate that, I can only learn if people tell me.
Please, don't let me continue living in ignorance, I would love to learn all the big words as well, but most of all the subtle nuances in different expressions.
That's one of the reasons I like the English language, you can express things in a simpler way than in German (ie. using less words) but the using an inappropriate word can confuse the whole sentence.
And I keep finding myself using too strong words that deliver the wrong message and I don't notice it.
The key word for me is "Constructive feedback", offering advice rather than pointing out mistakes, life is a constant learning.
And one of my main tasks at the moment is learning to communicate! Any help is appreciated.
[ Edit: fixed quote ]
I just read Stephen King's On Writing - sort of an autobiography slash writing guide slash common-sense book. The part that stuck with me most was his absolute insistence on using the simplest words possible. The first word that pops into your head, he writes, is usually the best possible word to use. He also abhors the almighty Thesaurus for the same reason.
From what I've learned in the 10 or so humble years since graduating and writing for a living, I can tell you this: it takes time and a lot of well-earned lessons to learn that simpler is better. Language is communication, after all, and you're more likely to say "Anyone up for a couple 'a beers, eh?" than "Would any of you perchance care to imbibe a few bubbly, alcoholic beverages?". So you might as well write it that way, too.
BTW, I can go on and on and on about writing. You may have to physically stop me from posting! And Phil, you write English better that 90% of the people who claim it as their first language.
please do go on... I would like to hear what other people think about writing, the more varied the experience the better (not just professional writers, I'd also like to hear from people who just write as a hobby, without ever having taken a course on it or anything). But maybe you better send me a PM or I'll send you my email address (probably the one from my website, it's got heaps more room than hotmail).
Obviously I'm no writer. But I wholeheartly agree with Tway that "simpler is better." I am impressed when reading something that I can just read & read in a sort of uninterrupted flow. To me, that's good communication. When I read something with lots of big, long words that could have been expressed with simpler, just as conceice words, I usually don't enjoy that as much.
I agree with all of you. One of my favorite classes ended up being Creative Writing in college...I never would have expected that. My teacher would always send papers back to be rewritten to the whole class and he would say over and over...simpler is better, make it more simple, dont use big words, blah blah blah. Thats what I remember most and it is very true. It makes for easy enjoyable reading.
That reminds me of something a workshop moderator told us a few months ago. The poor man spoke almost no English, but really liked the old K.I.S.S. acronym: Keep it simple, stupid. Except he kept saying: Keet it simple and stupid.
Gotta reiterate what Tway said. Your command of the English language is very impressive.
Has anybody read "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks? I'm reading that at the moment, and his use of language is brilliant. It's so easy to read, but it's wonderfully rich and I find myself conjuring up these vivid images while I'm reading.
It's been a while since I've read something like that. I highly recommend, if any of you are looking for something to read at the moment.
Eve, thanks for the recommendation. I may just pick that up...
Didn't you say you were a big Kurt Vonnegut fan? I devour his stuff - so simple and down to earth, yet the message he's trying to get across just screams right out at you. I love him - he's fabulous. I wish he was my third grandfather!
Tway, I think you'd really like Birdsong. Its set during the First World War. I'm only a third of the way through it, but I cant put it down.
Love Kurt Vonnegut. I remember a question coming up on him for my American War Writing final paper in college. And I was off!