Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “usage”

#AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

Quirky Index to the #AtoZ, 2014:  Twenty-Six Writing Quirks written specifically for the 2014 AtoZ Challenge

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Week 1 (April 1-5)

#AtoZ, 2014: A is for Ampersands. Right or Wrong.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
#AtoZ, 2014: B is for BBQ and Buffalo Chips
#AtoZ, 2014: C is for Calendar Quirks
#AtoZ, 2014: D is for Deep-Fried Hyphens
#AtoZ, 2014: E is for Exclamations from High School


Week 2 (April 7-12)

#AtoZ, 2014: F is for Freshly Squeezed Adverbspub izzes..2
#AtoZ, 2014: G is for Gobs of Hyphens Used Correctly
#AtoZ, 2014: Hyperventilating on Hyphens
#AtoZ, 2014: I iz for Iz-zies, Ar-zies, Waz-zies, & Wer-zies
#AtoZ, 2014: J is for Jarfuls of Jam: Another Quirk?
#AtoZ, 2014: K is for Knights-Errant, Kit and Caboodle, and Kitty-cornered

photo credit: writerscafe.org

photo credit: writerscafe.org

 Week 3 (April 14-19)

Granddaughter Madelynn is equally loose-limbed, loose-jointed, and talented. Amazing granddaughters!

Granddaughter Madelynn

#AtoZ, 2014: L is for Lose and Loose, Loosey-goosey, and LOL
#AtoZ, 2014: M is for Mahjong, Majiang, Mah-jongg, Mahjongg, or Mah jongg
#AtoZ, 2014: N is for Neither–Nor, but not Humpty Dumpty
#AtoZ, 2014: Oh, On Top (Weekly Photo Challenge) and O Writing Posts
#AtoZ, 2014: P is for Photo Blog and On Top Again
#AtoZ, 2014: Q is for Quirk Index and Q Round-Up

Week 4 What’s next? (April 21-26)

#AtoZ, 2014: R is for Resent or Re-sent? Hyphen Hysterics
#AtoZ, 2014, S is for #Cee’s Photo: S is for Shadows… and Shakespeare Sayings
#AtoZ, 2014: S is for From Cee’s to Shiny Cee’s
#AtoZ, 2014: T is for Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not
#AtoZ, 2014: U is for Unfinished, Underdeveloped, Unprintable Posts
#AtoZ, 2014: V is for Verb-less Sentences
#AtoZ, 2014: W is for Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Week 5  (April 28-30)

#AtoZ, 2014: X is for X. Is It Better to Be Safe Or Sorry
#AtoZ, 2014: Y is for Yadda, Yadda, Yadda and Yakety-yak
#AtoZ, 2014: Z is for Zero the Hero in a Repeat Performance

May A to Z Wrap-up Posts

1. #AtoZ, 2014: Bonus Wrap-up: Writers I Met on the AtoZ Highway
#AtoZ Wrap-Up Post 2: A to Z Reflections and Five More Writers
Q Posts from other bloggers:

Eclectic Odds n Sods: Quirky A-Z: Vintage & Emotions
Hanna Plummer, Q is for Quote
Terribly Write: Guess what’s not a question
Basil Rene, Life as an Anomaly: Quietly Question Everything
MJ Wright: Writing only looks easy. But it can be learned.


Your turn: What writing quirks or interesting words do you find in writing?

Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.


U is for Use, Usage, Utilize, and other Useful and Utilitarian Units

a-to-z-letters-2013What with all the rules about grammar, usage, and style, it’s a wonder anyone can get anything down on paper. Fortunately, native-born English speakers have internalized the rules and can speak and write from intuitive knowledge of how words work together in sentences. Any time we have a question about correctness, we can just pull our our handy reference manuals or go online to find the information we need. Or better yet, we can just let our editors fix the glitches in our writing.

What? You don’t have an editor?

Well, I don’t either, but my grammar-picky husband steps in and whacks at my writing. Sometimes he’s even right.

Grammar Reference Books and Textbooks

Good writers do use grammar reference books, and proofreaders and editors keep a large stock of them on hand. My own rather extensive collection starts with one first published in 1926. Here’s its classic opening sentence:

The Doorway to English is an outgrowth of a need of the classroom teacher of English who has been struggling long to achieve results in quality of speech from textbooks instead of making technique contribute to the quality of better speech. Almost any teacher of English can readily distribute the technique in orderly fashion through the respective grades, but few teachers are capable of allotting through a definite period of instruction the expanding qualities of good speech. L. Rader and P. Deffendall, The Doorway to English, Fifth Book, 1926.

What? Strunk and White, authors of The Elements of Style, would definitely not give this textbook writer an A for clarity.

Of course, some reference manuals vary in their pronouncements and create long-standing, hard-core devotees and crusaders, maybe even Grammar Police and Grammar Nazis.

One good example is the controversy over the serial comma, or the Oxford comma as the Brits call it. Do you use a comma after the second word in a series before the and?  Journalists frown on the use of the serial comma; academic writers adore it. Chicago Manual of Styles says yes, use it. APA says no, don’t use it. What’s a writer to do? Most writers follow what they were taught in junior high and high school, then look for evidence and authorities to support that position.

Usage and Style

Grammar and usage are different. Grammar: how words should be used in sentences. Usage: how words are used in sentences.

It’s Prescriptivist Grammar (this is the way it should be) versus Descriptivist Grammar (this is the way it is.)

Style is how an individual author puts together his or her knowledge of grammar and usage in writing.

A college professor, for example, would use a more formal, politically correct style in presenting his final report to the college president on, “The  Liberalization of the Humanities Department through the Utilization of Descriptivism in Chauvinistic Literature.”

The teenager writing on Internet uses a more informal style: mysterious acronyms that confound mature readers; pop idioms and slang; and improper spelling of there, they’re, and their, and your and you’re.

Here’s an example of a style suggestion from Strunk and White.

Avoid fancy words.

Although Strunk and White’s book does have it gallery of critics, it does offer helpful advice to developing writers. Their advice ranges from elementary rules of usage to the more hard-to-pinpoint style.

Why use a complex word when a simpler word will do? That college professor would do well to tone down his writing. The teenager will hopefully use a bit more formality in his academic writing.

The Last Meowcat editor

Hey, humans, why worry about all of this. We cats have our own grammar. The fuss that you make about these sticky details puts me to sleep. Get a life!   Meow for now.   =<^;^>=

And My Cat pic

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