Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, And Typos

Most people who know me probably think I'm pretty good when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Or maybe I'm using the word "good" when they're using the word "picky." (note to self: save "My Skewed Self Image" as a possible future blog topic) I do believe that words have power and should be correctly used. But I also agree with James Taylor that sometimes the sound of a word is what's most important: "To me, the words are nice the way they sound."

That's weird. I hardly ever think about James Taylor (sorry, James Taylor!) but I just realized he's also slated to appear in a future blog post. Well, his brother, actually, who looks exactly like him and some dicey plumbing, but that's another story.

Despite what my friends and enemies might think, I freely acknowledge my grammar, punctuation, and spelling are not always perfect. I mean, come on - what is so wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition? That's just a dumb rule. A common bit of bad grammar inspired this post, however. I Hate This One! It's everywhere. Like toxic mold. It's the insidious Let's Continue On. For crying out loud, people, we can Go On or we can Continue, but we cannot Continue On!

Grrrrrr.

My punctuation falls short of perfection as well. It hurt me, for instance, to insert that serial comma after the word "Spelling" in the title of this post, but they tell me that's the way it's supposed to be, so I'm trying to do it right. And there's no doubt I am overly fond of semicolons; meet me behind the bleachers after school, semicolon. What else? Well, it's only due to blogger.com that you're seeing just one space after my periods. Blogger insists on automatically correcting this for me (thank you?), but I have an excuse, I think. See, I learned to type when I was eight years old. It was a summer school class - must have been quite a sight, those 20-30 eight year olds seated in neat rows, pounding away on manual typewriters. (yes, the year started with a 19 - we don't have to go further than that, do we? didn't think so) And in that long forgotten time, the rule was you put two spaces after a period, not just one. I'm unable to break that habit to this day, which means I must find and replace period-space-space with period-space when I submit a manuscript for publication. My rebellious nature aside, though, I do believe in proper punctuation - there's a Facebook page devoted to the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!" Big difference. For Grandma.

Speaking of Facebook, you'll have to trust me on this, but that's a good segue into the topic of spelling. (the segue is coming - be patient, Reader Friends) I am a crackerjack speller, if I do say so myself. Why, I even won the junior high school spelling bee back in 19... well, it was a year, I was in a school, and I won the spelling bee as a 7th grader. In your face, 8th graders! I then went on to the county spelling bee, where I failed miserably when asked to spell daguerreotype. *&^%$#@! daguerreotype, you still haunt me, you miserable bastard. Why even inflict that on a child? It's not like I've ever needed to use that word in a sentence in my adult life - except to answer the question "Why were you 86'd from the county spelling bee, Amy?"

Ah, childhood memories. Speaking of which, growing up San Diego means you get to go to the Zoo A LOT. (I know, I know, you're thinking I'm off on another tangent here and where's the frickin' segue, but hang in there...) I'm sure I've been to the San Diego Zoo at least 50 times in my life, if not more. Thus, I learned early on about some of your more exotic animals, like okapis and marmosets and springboks. A springbok is a medium-sized (and springy!) African gazelle:


So... SEGUE ALERT... I'm still a pretty darn good speller, but even the best speller can sometimes find herself typing too fast and spit out a typo now and then. Lately, for example, when I try to type facebook.com, it comes out facebok.com. Facebok?



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