Saturday, December 6, 2008

For a Minute, I Thought This Was About Me

I'm sure there's a name for this phenomenon. Most people have probably come across a situation when, despite the fact that they are well-versed in something, someone else is so much more an expert that they feel stupid by comparison.

Consider this article on how to figure out whether you're a lousy writer.

"Don’t take a perfectly good word and give it a new backside so it functions as something else. The New York Times does this all the time. Instead of saying, “as a director, she is meticulous,” the reviewer will write, “as a director, she is known for her meticulousness.” Until she is known for her obtuseness.

The “ness” words cause the eye to stumble, come back, reread: Mindlessness, characterlessness, courageousness, statuesqueness, preciousness - you get the idea. You might as well pour marbles into your readers’ mouths. Not all “ness” words are bad - goodness, no - but they are all suspect."

I am interested in the English language. I studied it in school, did well. The writer of that article knows so much more about writing than I do that I might as well have just learned it in night school.

Continued thanks to the Grammar Police for staying away from this blog.

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