cj Sez: A public service announcement: Beware the stingy things of summer
From the Lyrical Pens archives:
Some years ago, a friend sent me the following quote from a fellow blogger, Sol Sanders: “Perhaps the glory of the English language is that it so expressive. Its remarkable heterogeneous origins have given it an almost limitless vocabulary. And American English, particularly, has used that tool with an enormous flexibility to make it the international means of communication. One is able with a minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance.”
Mr. Sanders’s comments were part of an introduction to his 2014 essay on “The Language of Deception,” i.e., what today’s journalism and media do with the English language.**
The gist of his post is even more evident today as journalists and media people sometimes overcomplicate their sentences with words that muddy their meanings rather than clarifying them—changing nouns into verbs and, perhaps, calling a shovel a “hand-held, earth-moving tool” or a mother “a birthing person.” That certainly isn’t “a minimum of linguistic dexterity.” My take on this is that media and journalists are employing an old trick of confusing the issue to persuade readers to their (the writer/editor) points of view
Turning nouns into verbs can seem a clever way to create uncomplicated sentences, but those words can also confuse the issue. One such usage I particularly dislike is “impactful;” a noun turned into a verb turned into an adjective by attaching “ful” on the end. What the Sam Hill does that mean?
The truth is the English is a living language. It’s constantly evolving as we create new words and new definitions to compliment and interpret new technology. The caveat is that the generations cease to understand each other at an almost exponential pace. Many times I seriously need an interpreter to understand teen-talk, and I think if I often texted (a noun turned into a verb because of technology), I’d forget how to spell. I sympathize with teachers who deal with this on a daily basis.
For me as a genre writer, the gloriously expressive English language is what makes my craft so fascinating.
Yes, I do use nouns as verbs. Yes, I deliberately obfuscate, and here I add the disclaimer that it’s for the sake of mystery. As I've said many times, I am drawn to the syntax, symbolism, and syncopation of a well-drafted sentence that is the hallmark of successful mystery/thriller/suspense novelists and short story writers. It’s using that “minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance” that appeals to me, and, I think, to readers of those genres. Readers want to try to decipher the code, find the clues, and solve the crime. I like trying to confuse the issue.
I’m still working on my craft, and every day I learn a new bit of English language. And that’s okay with me, because my personal motto is to learn something new every day.
That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Lifting prayers for your health and safety.
Young'uns are getting ready to return to school…a sure sign the summer is waning. Whether enjoying a stay-cation or vacation, the lowered prices on my fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond) ebooks will give you a few more hours of leisure reading.
The ebooks of DEATH ON THE YAMPA and THE DAWGSTAR are now $2.99.
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P.P.S. Sorry, pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not yet available at The Haunted Bookshop
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