The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Monday, March 23, 2009


is not a word!

I know, the English language is ever-evolving. And what's acceptable, such as starting a sentence with 'and', has shifted over the years. Still, there remain a few colloquialisms that drive me batty when I hear or see them.

'Anyways', for example, does my head in when I hear it used in casual conversation.

Of course, I'm well aware of my own poor speech habits. Worse than that, many manage to show up in my writing, too. What surprises me, though, is how often I find common grammatical no-no's in contemporary novels.

In a recent review for a well-known Canadian novel (Okay, I'm going to mention it by name: The Cellist of Sarajevo), the writer expressed frustration at the number of sentences in the novel ending in a preposition, and surprise that kind of writing came from someone who's also a writing teacher.

As I'm reading the book now, I'm on the lookout for these poorly placed preps. Not only is this 'game' distracting me from the story, it's making me wonder whether the usage blunder is the result of bad writing, or lazy editors. Or maybe it's just a by-product of an increasingly colloquial language.

Whatever the reason, I'm finding myself worrying about my speech habits and how they're affecting my writing.

At least one thing is for certain, 'anyways' will never find its way into one of my stories.


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

The one I hate is when people use "myself" instead of "me": "Bring that file back Monday and give it to myself or Janet." I think people think it sounds classier.

Thu Mar 26, 04:04:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Shaula said...

There's a linguistic term for "making a mistake by trying to sound classier," but I can't think of what it is.

Pronouncing V-A-S-E incorrectly as "vahz," instead of correctly as "vayz" is another example of the same mistake.

"Irregardless" bothers me.

Sun Mar 29, 07:30:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger T. Lee said...

Thanks for posting, you two!

"Irregardless," yes! Bugs me, too.

But as someone who says 'vase' in a manner that would annoy you, I had to look it up. I found a source in Wikip. but then found a better one, PBS: "The pronunciations VAHZ and VAWZ, noted by Walker above, are British. The former is the prevailing pronunciation, but the latter “has still some currency in England,” says OED 2. In an American speaker, say Morris & Morris (1985), VAHZ “is a mark of affectation.” I agree.)"

Mon Mar 30, 02:04:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger T. Lee said...

I should note, the link is from the PBS show, "Do you speak American?"

Apparently, as a Canadian, I continue to mix my British and American words :)

Mon Mar 30, 02:08:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Re your question about usage blunders in The Cellist and other books, I think it is an increasing preference for more colloquial language. It may come across to some editors as more "hip." It works for me only if it's in keeping with the way the story's character would think or speak.

Thu Apr 02, 12:42:00 am GMT-4  

Post a Comment

<< Home