“Grammar, What Big Teeth You Have” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

“Grammar, What Big Teeth You Have” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Grammar rules, OK.

Breakages will be reported, criticised and condemned.

I never learned much in the way of English grammar.  Plenty of French, Latin and Greek, but very little English.  I’ve largely forgotten the former three, and now I just struggle with my native tongue and frankly the natives can get pretty damned restless if not outright hostile.  For some reason, there are two things which bring out the tyrants, the complainers, the rabid proselytisers – grammar and spelling.

When I was a kid I was frequently told that there was no such word as ‘can’t’.  Not even finding a suitably recent and liberal dictionary containing the fabulous ‘can’t’ could put an end to the assertion.  There simply was no such word, no matter how many people used it, in speech and print.  Now roll on a few years, to my teens, and those immortal words: to boldly go where no man has gone before.  I don’t care that everywhere they went there were clearly people who had arrived earlier, it was the split-infinitive that troubled me.

Or, strictly speaking, failed to trouble me.  I like to boldly go.  I try to imagine that opening as the grammarians might have it – to go boldly – and I can see myself switching channels.  And back when I first encountered all that bold adventure, there was no remote on the TV so I would have had to have got out of the chair…

The trouble with grammar is the collision, with resultant debris, between a pattern of rules and the fluid reality of people communicating.  People like rules, like patterns and, as someone who once earned a living as a scientist, I like rules and patterns, but language does not follow grammar, grammar is the attempt to slap rules on later.  The one size fits all garment that inevitably sags or pinches.

In the dim and distant past, I learned about verbs – regular verbs and irregular verbs, the ones that follow the rule, and then all the special cases for the ones that don’t.  The very terminology is misleading because the regular verbs are the ones that barely get used.  The irregular verbs have been ground down, knocked about and generally dented by frequent exercise, constant use and regular abuse.

And so the language changes.  Language is like that – words, phrases and grammar of my parents’ generation often seem a bit stilted, and my grandparents’ generation… well that’s some foreign language that sounds close to English.

The trouble is that language changes as if change is the only thing that matters, a crazy race to be somewhere else, whilst those grammatical rules are slow to adapt.  The rules, by my crude and unsubstantiated estimate, describe the language at a time somewhere between my grandparents and my parents and, like me, are a bit too padded around the waist and likely to get out of breath if they have to run too hard to catch up.

I don’t dislike grammar – it’s just a set of rules best treated as guidelines (to borrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean). Grammar doesn’t define language, it’s a report done later to explain what happened, to hide the uncomfortable bits, to bring the erratic into line. Forget Disney, let’s borrow from the legal world – the rules of grammar are simply sentencing guidelines. And remember that if you deviate too far from those guidelines there will be complaints, protests and appeals to a higher authority that the sentence is wrong and ought to be corrected. There is no deeper sin, except to fail to get the spelling rite.

Those who treat grammar carelessly, who choose to explore beyond and to boldly go where no writer has writ before, they must expect to be hounded mercilessly. If you do it right, and well, then applause and acclaim await, but pick poorly and you are off to literary obscurity.

There’s a quote I like, attributed to Pablo Picasso (but possibly falsely), that I’ve seen doing the rounds on social media lately –  Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Syntax, anyone?


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

Huntley-James has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

“He can be found online at his blog https://markhuntleyjames.wordpress.com/, and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.”


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

 

 

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

 

Quite often, I like to take a break from writing to do some pleasure reading. Having loved books for as long as I can remember, I can’t imagine a world without them. My preferences run the gamut: thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, dramas, sagas, historical epics, even young adult or erotica. I love nothing better than a compelling story, breathtaking imagery, and a brilliant turn of phrase, no matter the genre.

However, there is one thing that stops me cold in my tracks, like a boulder in the road. That is editing: misspelled or misused words, bad formatting, and terrible grammar. I have started reading books that showed great promise but ended up never finishing them. Poorly edited books make me want to get my red pen out!

The worst part is, my proofreading obsession has spilled over into other areas. I find problems in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and menus. Emails and social media posts are not immune to my scrutiny, either. One time, I had to leave a restaurant because their shiny menus had “hambruger,” “patato,” and “costomer” printed for all to see. My friends and family laugh at my zealousness. Strangers, however, do not always react so well.

Of course, my background has something to do with being a grammar nazi. I have a degree in English and Education, worked in publishing, and spent a lot of years as a freelance copyeditor. But I believe my wanting to have the written word correctly written has always been with me. In seventh grade, I advised my science teacher that he had misspelled photosynthesis on a test. He didn’t appreciate my calling him out in front of the class, especially because I didn’t know what photosynthesis was. Science was my least favorite subject, but at least I knew how to spell the terms.

All this ranting has a point. Trust me. I know there are others like me. If you are publishing and want as many people as possible to read your heartfelt words, please check and recheck. Do your spellcheck, grammar check, have someone proofread/edit, and then read it out loud again. Don’t let a great story get tossed away by muddling it up with clumsy editing.

Also, if I have mistakes in this blog, please feel free to point them out. None of us are perfect. I am always interested in ways to improve my writing; while I also want you to be the best that you can.

Happy writing and don’t forget to read!


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology