How do you approach blogging? The first lesson I learned was the best one. If you don’t post, nobody will read it. Well that was pretty insightful wasn’t it?
Now what about grammar? Do you meticulously follow the lessons you learned at school? I tend to veer between Conan the Grammarian, slavishly structuring my relative clauses properly and the more modern, WTF, language evolves stance. Don’t come to me for consistency. I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent. Churchill is reported to have said about pedantic grammar, “this is the kind of tedious nonsense up with which I will not put”. If you can be bothered to investigate further there is a nice piece on Wikipedia on the matter.
Punctuation? Like 75% of the population I own a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Like 99% of those 75% I have never so much as opened it. I mean who reads a book by an author called Truss? Thank you for your warm support. I shall wear it everyday, goes the old joke. Even more puzzling is why we 75% bought a book with the subtitle The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. I do get irritated by people who get their possessives wrong but otherwise I am reasonably tolerant. Again, the definition of ‘reasonably’ varies from day-to-day. On an average day I don’t give a semi colon whether you have the comma in the right place or not.
Which takes me to spelling. Now here there is no compromise. Without wishing to offend all of those you who think differently I will never consciously spell the word ‘colour’ without a U. End of the matter. And don’t get me on to ‘principal’ versus ‘principle’. It is just a matter of principle. I howl at the moon in despair when I read papers written by people, who claim to be semi-educated at least, having scraped through some dodgy PPE course at Oxbridge, only to emerge without the remotest sense of basic spelling. There’s my Conan side coming through again. I don’t care how many Blues you won, go back until you can sort out principle and principal.
Accuracy. Now here I am on decidedly iffy ground. I confess that sometimes I do take small liberties with the concept. Generally however accuracy counts. The internet-thingy has taken away any excuses for not looking something up. Gone are the days when you had to drag your way to the dictionary or go next door and ask Mrs. Pedester if you could borrow her 1908 first edition of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia. Or even, heaven forbid get the number 16 bus to the town library. And of course you could not do that today because our politicians are probably closing all the libraries down in the spirit of austerity needed to fund the I-bank bonus fund. Just remember that the fact that it is on the web of confusion does not make it accurate. Cross-checking is advised. If you don’t check, I shall be cross.
Proof-reading. Guilty. I use a spellchecker. I read my text at least twice as spellcheckers won’t spot the difference between principle and principal. And they might try to slip through a ‘color’ when I am not paying attention. And yet…… and yet I can guarantee you that I shall miss something. And that irritates the hell out of me. I must have some kind of word blindness or simply a natural tendency to read what I thought I had written. Why is it so difficult to be right every time. Alister Benn doesn’t have this problem so why should I? Incidentally, I just ran the spell checker on the above and it singles out for criticism the word ‘spellchecker’. Apparently I should either make it a plural or split it into two words. My rebellious streak tells me that is a good point to go into WTF mode and leave it as it stands. Do excuse me.
Now I am sure you are all waiting to see how I can connect a photograph to the Queen’s Engish. So am I. Instead, I share with you an image from our local town. And if you don’t like it, tune in again tomorrow when I may be off the air.
Read again next time if you dare. And your comments (some hope!) will be marked most severely. Maybe.