SPELLING, PUNCTUATION, and the CHALLENGES of GRAMMAR
HOW TO WRITE GOOD
I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose=words in their best order; poetry=the best words in their best order.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Table Talk [July 23, 1827]
“…words in their best order…” [Emphasis added] is an oft employed phrase meant to convey an explicit, yet paradoxically ambiguous adage. Units of meaning thoughtfully, and powerfully, woven together evoke images, elicit reactions, and transmit persuasive messages. The content, alone, cannot do the job the writer intends. Grammar, in its most all-encompassing sense, is the glue which melds and holds lexemes together.
Semantics, lexical form, and morphemes, are naked and just flat out illegible without the parameters imposed by grammatical context. Solecisms devalue writing. They occur due to ignorance about grammar, what it is, how it affects expository composition, or “…words in their best order…” Grammar is:
- Usage; and so much more.
Spelling errors are common – few writers can honestly boast of producing documents free of misspellings. How well do you spell? It’s a good question, right? Spelling isn’t simply knowing the correct order of letters, it’s also a lexeme’s part of speech label to ensure correct usage. Confusion abounds regarding differentiation of homophones, homonyms, and homographs. Orthodox versus unorthodox spelling has taken on greater significance because of texting, creating a nightmarish situation for purists, linguists, and those who value ”…words in their best order.” Text shorthand erodes spelling abilities. It pops up, unexpectedly, wreaking havoc, generating anguish, frustration, and occasionally fostering unanticipated consequences. BTW u shld already no this, right? Lol!!!
Every year new semasiological units are added to the English lexicon. Semiotic changes affecting words and phrases impact existing definitions and usage. Scribes, inditers, belletrists, chroniclers, and writers who desire to strengthen, and expand, their vocabulary would do well to dive purposefully – and methodically – into their hardcover dictionaries and thesauruses. Wisdom gently encourages development of a genuine proficiency in spelling and suggests abstaining from dependence on the spellcheck function of word processing software, BYKT.
Punctuation can improve, or destroy, written material. Lack of awareness on when, where, and how to use apostrophes, periods, colons, commas, semi colons, exclamation points, and even question marks, whether absent or misplaced, exposes serious weaknesses in writing ability. Poor spelling and lousy punctuation doom the viability of written content. A scribe can be forgiven for a lack of expertise on usage. Aside from linguists, usage is an area inditers may stumble through, however, hardcover dictionaries provide detailed explanations on the categories and meanings. They also include separate headings on usage notes and usage paragraphs. Enterprising chroniclers can infuse clarity and conciseness into their compositions by familiarizing themselves with these distinctions.
One might be tempted to think mastery of spelling, punctuation, and usage is all he, or she, needs to become better writers. WRONG!!! BWDIK? Well-meaning inditers have been known to fall victim to the desire to illuminate their ruminations with trite, platitudinous insertions, symbols, or banal sayings. Writing well does not include – without explanation – abbreviations, acronyms – check out AAAAA, ampersands, clichés, parenthetical remarks, rhetorical flourishes, SMH, or text shorthand. A former student of mine shared a cleverly constructed piece on the rudiments of sound expository writing, taken from www.Grammarly.com entitled How to write good…
- Avoid alliteration. Always.
- Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
- Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
- Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
- One should never generalize.
- Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
- Be more or less specific.
- Sentence fragments? Eliminate.
- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
- Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
- Who needs rhetorical questions?
And as the saying goes, a hint to the wise is sufficient, BYKTR?
Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.
Abelard to Heloise