Sunday, November 25, 2012
Rewriting Your Vocabulary
For someone who was never a writer growing up (I have the "honor" of being the only student in my 8th grade English class to submit an essay for a contest and having my teacher throw it away since it was so poorly written). In high school and college, I eeked by in my writing courses, never excelling and barely meeting standards to be "successful."
After eight and a half years in the military, where I was forced to write many reports (police reports, performance reports, enforcement evaluation reports), I began being a bit more comfortable with the process. On a second attempt of college, post-military, I took a "Technical Communications" course where I did extremely well. I had found my niche in writing.
Since then, in my chosen career field (not the Technology degree I pursued in college the second time, but Law Enforcement once again), I have been labeled as the "writer" for much of the higher-end reports that come with the job. While teaching at my component's Law Enforcement Academy, I was the resident "geek," due to my background with technology, desire to automate, and ability to coherently put together a series of sentences into a decently written report/memorandum/request.... I was tasked with most of the research studies and curriculum rewrites which came with the job, especially those which were generated to select an automated testing platform (my baby!!!). I loved that aspect of things, even when it came to pulling me from the classroom teaching so I could focus on my projects.
These days, I don't write as much; partly why I started writing this blog (to keep my chops up, lol). I do read more than I have in a long time (though not as much as I should or would like to). I also read some on topics relating to writing, such as improving my grammar and so forth. This morning, while reading the news, I came across a linked article about "Purging Your Vocabulary." Good article which highlights some of the over/misused words in speech and writing.
I was pleased to see that I only use one of the five words to purge with regularity (Dynamic). Of course, I use it often in my speaking, and usually in jest or sarcasm (we are a dynamic and fluid organization, adapt with the change or be left behind.). Thankfully, few people in my current location have figured out my sarcasm and dry humor, so I get away with many comments which, if realized for what they were, could land me in the dog house.
Also on the topic of words to purge, I have several pet peeves when it comes to spoken or written words. I will list them for you:
1. Irregardless: My number one irk. I actually cringe when I hear this word. It is slang (as listed in the dictionary) and a double negative. It means Not Not caring. Ewwww....
2. Ending a sentence with a preposition: Sure, it has somewhat become regarded as appropriate in certain circles due simply to the fact that not doing so sometimes makes the sentence or sentiment sound awkward (or as a friend says Yoda Speak). Still, it is grammatically correct not to do so and I try to be correct.
3. Your/You're, There/They're, Who/Whom: Often, in writing, these are confused. I correct them often from my subordinates. In speech, who/whom is a biggie. People need to realize whom follows a written or implied preposition and is used as an indirect object: To whom did you give the award? For whom the bell tolls...simple.
4. Verbing nouns: I will admit I find myself doing this sometimes, and in current usage, many "things" have become dual-use words. Google is one. It is a noun (Google is my favorite search engine.) and can be verbed (I just googled "William Shatner" and boy was I surprised at the results.).
5. Misspellings: I find it hard to believe (even as guilty as I am) that in today's word-processor driven media that misspellings are still as frequent as they are. I guess many people are not as well-versed as to what the little red squiggly line under the word represents.
6. Decorative versus non- usage of commas: Commas can be very interesting items in writing and often misused. Some folks, like me for instance, will use them in places where a natural pause is implied. While it may not necessarily be correct, it "feels" right. I would prefer extra commas as opposed to a complete lack of them.