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

Annie Dillard gave a speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This was the advice she thought to give them after she left.

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Learn punctuation; it is your little drum set, one of the few tools you have to signal the reader where the beats and emphases go. (If you get it wrong, any least thing, the editor will throw your manuscript out.) Punctuation is not like musical notation; it doesn’t indicate the length of pauses, but instead signifies logical relations. There are all sorts of people out there who know these things very well. You have to be among them even to begin.

 

 

41k+F0IC8fL._UX250_Annie Dillard is the author of ten books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, as well as An American Childhood, The Living, and Mornings Like This. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has received fellowship grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Dillard attended Hollins College in Virginia. After living for five years in the Pacific Northwest, she returned to the East Coast, where she lives with her family.

Notes to Young Writers: Annie Dillard on Punctuation

Posted in In the News

Language and Grammar in the News… Week of March 8, 2015

I’m trying something new and different for the blog.  I’ve been fascinated by some stories that are coming through the news feeds and thought I’d post the links here for my readers to enjoy, and perhaps learn something.  I hope to make this a weekly or bi-weekly event, so please leave a message and let me know if you enjoy.

Here goes…the premiere issue of  Language and Grammar in the News

From the Lowell Sun (Lowell, Massachusetts)- March 6, 2015

Irish author’s quest to revive native language launches cultural week in Lowell

Irish author Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh talked about the revival of the Irish language at UMass Lowell’s University Crossing.  He spoke about the slow decline of the Irish language in the 19th century due to colonization and famine, and then the abrupt revival of the language in recent decades by political Irish prisoners. The revival of the Irish language in the homeland — Gaeilge, or Gaelic as it’s often called here in the states — has developed into a serious cultural shift in recent decades and represents the recapturing of one of the oldest languages on the planet.

Do you feel the rhythm? Or a French rythme, Spanish ritmo, Swedish rytm, Russian ритм (ritm) or Japanese rizumu? Is there a difference? Perhaps one way to find out is to have a French conversation, German konversation, Spanish conversación, or Italian conversatione? Doing so will of course reveal many differences, but languages of the world also share much, just as these words demonstrate.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/mar/06/feel-the-beat-how-rhythm-shapes-the-way-we-use-and-understand-language

Found something interesting you’d like me to share? Tell me! Send an email to: BookDoctorDara.

Have a great week,

Dara