Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why, Yes, I AM A Grammar Nazi

Let's take a look at a meme:


A brief glance pokes fun at a mother's failure to prove she is a good mother. That's the spirit of the meme, but it fails terribly because it misplaced a comma.

As it is written, the mother is asking the little girl if she is a "good mother Susan." Now I have no idea what a "good mother Susan" might be, but it sounds like one of the names from the British Isles that people would call the local hedge witch.
"Morning, Elias, and where do you be going this fine morning?"
"Me cow's doing poorly and I'm off to see Good Mother Susan for a poultice."
Now you already know what the meme creator meant. The mother was asking her child, "Am I a good mother, Susan?" and the child corrects her by saying her name is actually Amy and general hilarity ensues.

I know what you're thinking. Why make a fuss over such a trivial error? It's a meme, not the Declaration of Independence.

But you need to understand one salient fact. Words, grammar, and sentence structure are my currency. I'm a writer whose sole ambition is to write entertaining stories, but if the elements of grammar are beyond my ken, then my stories go unread because they are unreadable.

I put as much work in my Facebook posts and blog entries as I do my stories. And, yes, I make hordes of errors, but I will not hesitate to correct them as soon as possible. I've pulled my books off of Amazon simply to correct one typo and then resubmit them.

Yes, I am that fanatical.

Seriously, the English language to me is wonder incarnate. As I wrote in my fictional essay, To Touch Real Magic,
"Well, gentlemen," Alan said to the empty air. "I know you’re here and reading this and have seen my perspective on the craft of writing, but before I go, I would like to share with you one closing thought.

"The ancient bards and troubadours saw actual magic in the ability to communicate with words. The Greeks called it the Logos. Norse legends say Odin gave up an eye and hung himself on the World Tree for a night of suffering and agony so he could win the secret of the runes and all the power inherent in what became the Norse alphabet. The Jews refuse to say the entire name of God or even write it out fully out of respect for its power.

"I will not bandy metaphysics with you, but I’ll simply say that I agree with the concept of the magic of words.

"History is filled with the names of men who sought the occult power of creation; Rasputin, Saint Germaine, Cagliostro and others. But I dare say to you now that if we craft an exquisite sentence, we have achieved more than all the incantations of Aliester Crowley combined.

"All the cabalistic mechanizations of Paracelsus never brought him any closer to the act of creation that we so easily achieve when we dare to put pen to paper or hand to keyboard.

"The writer who seeks perfection of his craft and continues to write comes across more wonder and magic and awe than any witch, warlock or sorcerer that ever mumbled a midnight charm.

"Thank you for allowing me to share my magic with you, even when it has been nothing more than droll slapstick. You have honored me deeply. I look forward to returning that honor when you share your writings with me.

"So let’s all together, in our own private worlds of our own creation, snap our fingers and say ‘Let there be light!’"

Alan laughed and snapped his fingers.
And there was light.

1 comment:

  1. I have found a funny reasoning for having said comma, http://www.verbicidemagazine.com/2011/09/20/strippers-jfk-and-stalin-illustrate-why-you-should-use-the-serial-comma/
    It's important to get some things right, lest your reader go on a wild idea. (as demonstrated)

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