Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back to Basics

If you're a baby boomer, you probably remember heading back to school AFTER Labor Day, as I do.  Why is it that out here in California, where you have no "snows days", they make everyone start in August before summer is rightfully over?  Can someone out there please explain this to me?

While you're thinking of that or researching it or whatever my little rant has spurred you to do, I'll be getting back to basics in the writing department by purchasing a new copy of the Holy Book for Journalists and Others who Want to Write in a Clear and Consise Style - "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White.

I was listening to NPR the other day as they were discussing the "Wiki Leaks" business that you're probably sick of  hearing about by now - I know I am!  One of the women who called in started complaining about the misuse of language among our citizens and even members of the 4th Estate!  Yes, Virginia, back in the day when reporters actually developed stories and dug for information instead of turning a news-cast into an entertainment-cast, this is how members of the media described themselves!

This woman started to bad mouth the editors of the paper of record - The New York Times - where the editors apparently don't know when to use who or whom!  (Clue for NTY editors, simply substitute the word he for who and him for whom and you should be able to figure this out easily.)

Misuse of  language is one of my pet peeves.  I remember once asking a young grocery clerk why he used the word ain't.  He looked at me and just shrugged like a teenage boy would do in that circumstance.  I told him that I didn't think he looked like a dummy, but if he continued to misuse language that way he would be taken for one!  I'll never forget the shocked look that came over his face, as if either:  no one had ever been that honest with him or he couldn't believe some old broad was mouthing off to him.  Although I'd like to think I made a difference in a young person's life, I'm thinking he was probably thinking of the latter. 

"The Elements of Style" isn't just a book for journalists, but a book for everyone who writes.  Go on, go get yourself a copy!

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