Posted in Did You Know ?, Grammar, Words, Writing

Unwritten Rules of English Grammar: ‘Tock-tick’, ‘Dong-ding’, ‘Kong-King’

Thanks to something called ablaut reduplication — a rule stating that, if you repeat a word and change an internal vowel, the order you say them in has to follow I-A-O.

This is why it’s King Kong, Ding Dong, Tick Tock (which sounds right to your ear), and not Kong-King, Dong-Ding, and Tock-Tick (which doesn’t sound right at all!)

Ever wonder why it’s Little Red Riding Hood? The adjective rule helps you remember what order to put things in:  it’s obscure, but yes, it is a thing!

  1. opinion
  2. size
  3. age
  4. shape
  5. color
  6. origin
  7. material
  8. purpose
  9. Noun

ie: little green men, not green little men; and Big Bad Wolf, not Bad Big Wolf.

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And… now you know about the crazy things elements of eloquence* that I, as an editor, know, to help make your manuscript better! #knowledgeispower #research #grammar #saywhat?

*Editor’s Note- The “elements of eloquence” is a great book by Mark Forsyth! Get it and enjoy learning how to turn a phrase.

Posted in From The Editor's Desk, Grammar, Writing

Choosing the Right Point of View for Your Story

Point of View

The Narrator’s personality and perspective helps shape the reader’s perspective, and how the story unfolds. The reader sees what the character experiences from their point of view (POV).

Why Point of View?

POV helps us understand motives, desires, and empathize with characters and what they are going through. Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft says, “The technical term for describing who is telling the story and what their relation to the story is” (page 83).

First Person POV

Use of “I”, or, in plural first person, “we”. This is used in both autobiographical writing and narration

Examples: Charles Dickens’ character introduction in the opening of the chapter “I Am Born” in David Copperfield (1850).

‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night’ (page 1).

Second Person POV

Use of word “you”. Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’. When I think of this, which is a very uncommon type of POV that we see, since it’s hard to write and keep consistent. Why do I say it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ type? Because the reader imagines themselves performing each action. One of my favorite books that showcases second person POV is Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler

Now you are on the bus, standing in the crowd, hanging from a strap by your arm, and you begin undoing the package with your free hand, making movements something like a monkey, a monkey who wants to peel a banana and at the same time cling to the bough.’ (page 7).

 

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Editor’s Note: For an interesting Study in Second Person and Calvino, check out DarWrites

Third Person POV

Use of words he, she, it, they. In today’s world, don’t forget about gender-neutral pronouns as well. Third person POV can stay in one character’s head, or move freely between characters.

Limited POV 

Only see what’s happening through the character that is narrating, very narrow, and only colored through what our character thinks/ feels / believes about the characters and events around him/her.

Omniscient

“Non-involved narrator”. Narrator sees all and knows all, including the character’s private thoughts and feelings.  Ursula Le Guin, in Steering the Craft’s chapter “Point of View and Voice” says, “the narrator knows the whole story, tells it because it is important, and is profoundly involved with all the characters.”

 

BONUS MATERIAL:
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Here’s an extra grammar maven tip that comes from my very good friend and fellow grammarian, Melissa Case about Reflexive Pronouns Me, Myself & I: How and How NOT to Use Reflexive Pronouns on Medium.

 

Featured image courtesy of grammarly
Posted in Grammar, Language

A Murder of Crows, and other collective nouns for animal groups

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Collective nouns are names used to represent a group of  people, animals, or things.

All animals collect into groups at some point in their lives. Be it for the social interaction, mating season, or herd immunity (groups of animals are harder to attack than solitary ones wandering by themselves).

These names reflect our love of linguistics, and can be traced back to the fifteenth century when they were first published in The Book of St. Albans (1486), in three parts on hawking, hunting, and heraldry.

  • A murder of crows
  • A congress of baboons
  • A tower of giraffes
  • A parliament of owls
  • A rafter of turkeys
  • A shrewdness of apes
  • A zeal of zebras
  • A crash of hippopotami
  • A congregation of alligators
  • A pride of lions
  • An unkindness of ravens
  • A blessing of unicorns
  • A clowder of cats
  • A flamboyance of flamingoes
  • A conspiracy of lemurs
  • A volt of vultures
  • An implausibility of gnus
  • A celebration of polar bears
  • A mob of meerkats
  • A kaleidoscope of butterflies
  • A knot of frogs
  • A prickle of porcupines
  • A smack of jellyfish
  • A romp of otters
  • A sleuth of bears
  • An ostentation of peacocks (Do you think this is where the word ‘ostentatious’ comes from?)
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A flamboyance of flamingoes at the China Lights in New Orleans City Park 
China Lights photo ©2016 Edward Branley www.nolahistoryguy.com 


Sources:
Crow comic courtesy of offthemark.com – ©Mark Parisi- March 29, 2016
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/collectives.htm
Unusual names for animal groups
Who decides on the right collective noun for something?