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Sunday, June 25, 2023

Once More With Feeling

cj Sez:  I decided I should once again reorganize and clean-up the backup files for my blog the other day, and it turned into a time-consuming exercise, like sorting through storage boxes in the attic. That meant I “had” to re-read every post to determine if it should be archived longer or deleted. 

  I re-discovered the following 2016 post about our dynamic English language that I think is worthwhile repeating one more time.

  …. A friend sent me this quote from journalist 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 essay on what today’s journalism and media do with the English language. The gist of his blog was that journalism and media people overcomplicate their sentences with words that muddy their meanings—changing nouns into verbs and, perhaps, calling a shovel a “hand-held, earth-moving tool.” (True. I’ve seen these kinds of descriptions in engineering technical specifications papers also.)

  Yes, as a writer, I use nouns as verbs. Yes, I deliberately obfuscate and happily add the disclaimer that it’s for the sake of telling the story. I am drawn to the syntax, symbolism, and syncopation of a well-crafted sentence that is the hallmark of successful poets and mystery/thriller/suspense novelists. 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. As a genre writer, I like confusing the issue. That said, I do have a few personal dislikes of changing nouns into verbs. One is the word “impactful”—a noun turned into a verb turned into an adjective by adding “ful” on the end. What the Sam Hill does that mean?
  The truth is that English is a living language. It’s constantly evolving as we create new words and new definitions to compliment new technology. Therein lies a conundrum:  The generations cease to understand each other at an almost exponential pace.

  Coda:  IMHO, (that's 'text speak') the gloriously expressive English language is what makes the craft of writing so fascinating.

  I’m still working on my craft. How are you doing with yours?


  I absolutely love that Calvin cartoon. 

  That's it for this week's post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same. 

  Raising prayers for a happy and safe summer…with lots of time for reading!

Great vacation reads!
  My books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore.

Little note: The Haunted Book Shop has a few signed copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact:  (If she happens to be out, drop me a note--I also have a small stash.) Angela Trigg, the awesome owner and a RITA Award-winning author in her own right (writing as Angela Quarles) will be happy to ship you any book(s) by any author of your choice.

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