Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing More Betterly

A guest post by Diane’s chief proof-reader and editor:

Anonymous Husby-Figure

As all of you out there in blog-land know by now, my Beloved Diane likes to write. I for one think that she does it very well.  But – horrors! – sometimes she makes a mistake.
Some time ago, she appointed me to be her proof-reader/editor/fixer-upper by insisting that, although she really does proof-read her columns before she posts them, sometimes typos and grammos just slip in there and hide.
“Grammo” is the pet word I concocted for her very infrequent “grammatical” errors.
 Over the months, the most frequent of her infrequent grammos was the use of the wrong form of “its” or “it’s” as in: “Its simply not acceptable if it’s apostrophe is missing when its really needed  or present when its not.” 
So to speak.
So I do try to catch Diane’s  typos and grammos, because I do believe it makes for a better read not to have them in there, and I believe that it shows respect to you, her readers.
I do not claim to be a perfect writer, but I did learn early while chasing an elusive education the importance of being word-perfect.  So if you will indulge me, I will do as my Beloved does so well and regale you with the story of where my typo-grammo mania came from.

It was the early 1980s and I was in a graduate school senior seminar, learning French Revolution history and cultural anthropology from Dr. de Luna.  (His name of course is of French extraction, and we often heard about his relationship to the moon – “lune” in French.  Some of my classmates preferred to suggest that it was “loon”, others wondered whether there was a vampire connection, but most of us ended by irreverently, although affectionately,  referring to him as Professor De Lunatic.)  Now besides endless etymological meanderings about his name, Dr. De Luna liked to tell us, almost daily, about how any written work, as in papers and articles, that we gave him HAD TO BE WORD AND LETTER PERFECT.  A summary of his reasonings: “It is disrespectful of your reader if said reader stumbles over typos and grammos  WHICH ARE ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE because you MISGUIDED doctoral candidates were TOO LAZY to proof-read it.  Your work is therefore sub-standard because your miserably lame analysis and argument that you think is intelligent discourse is unreadable because your reader is distracted when  having to stop to figure out what it is that you MEANT to say when you made your typo  . . . . . “ 
I think you get the point.  We got the message, many many times over.
Not so lunatic, when you stop to think about it.
So, time came for us to present to the dear Professor our first major research papers; and, a few days later, time to hand the graded papers back and discuss them in seminar.
Dr. De Luna went around the room, handing each paper back to its (notice this is the right one!) author, each with some mostly encouraging commentary and all with some very vociferous praise for being letter-perfect in the typo and grammo department.
All but one paper – the one belonging to a good friend, Ostap.
Now you should know that Ostap had a great sense of humour, was actually a very good scholar, but he had not internalized the message about being word-perfect.  He just didn’t think it was all that important.  At least not yet.
We came to discover, by the Professor’s 10-minute+ recapitulation of the obviously degenerate if not criminal intent and nature of anyone who dared to hand in a paper IN THIS SEMINAR that was anything LESS than word perfect, once again how important this whole typo-grammo business was.
At the end of his lecture (not the one about the French Revolution), Dr. de Luna passed this last paper to Ostap, with a scowl and a stare, and asked: “So, Mr. Ostap, what do you think I should do about this sort of thing?  Hmmmmm!???”
Ostap quipped back without the blink of an eye:  “I think you should stop worrying about it so much!  You’ll enjoy life a lot more and live a lot longer!”
We weren’t sure how long Ostap was going to survive.
But he did, and went on to a bright future. 
But not as a writer.
Dr. De Luna retired shortly after.  We think it was because of a brain aneurysm.  Caused by the lodging of typos and grammos in the blood vessels of the brain . . . .

And so, my friends, I pledge to continue doing my best to save you from typos and grammos in my Beloved’s columns.

Its the least I can do.  (Oops!)





21 comments:

  1. Awesome post! :)I liked the use of Vociferous. Good word!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I appreciate excellent grammar and spelling skills. :)

    Hi, Grant ... <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks , moonepower! It's nice to know there are others in this world!
      GT

      Delete
    2. Just figured out who you are!!! So nice to reconnect!

      Delete
  3. I appreciate good grammar and spelling, too, but not to the point where I will have an aneurysm!! Great story. I would love to have been there when Ostap offered that solution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have your limits, right? Probably a good thing...

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. The feeling's mutual! In a totally uncreepy way! :)

      Delete
  5. maybe you could straighten me out re lay and lie....I THINK it's 'I will lie down I did lay down' but I'm not sure. Hey...I see a whole new career in your future...adviser to bloggers world wide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm . . . lay [something] ; lie [people]. Just think of Bob Dylan's song Lay, Lady Lay. It's WRONG. That should be clear as mud. Do you still want me to advise??? :)

      Delete
    2. Lay and Lie is a tricky one. On the one hand, "I will lie down for a nap", in the children's bedtime prayer, it is "Now I lay me down to sleep"; it may just be one of those across the ocean differences. English-lay; American-lie, or maybe lay is old English and lie is modern English. I don't think anyone really knows and if the story makes sense who cares?

      Delete
    3. oooooooooh.....things and people....well duh. Yes, you most certainly should still be an advisor. THANK YOU!!!!!

      Delete
  6. You ought to go over to my automotive blog. There are commentors who haven't a clue how to write; they would put archy (archie?), the cockroach to shame. and you'll see some who are so slicked down with grease that the stains penetrate right through to YOUR personal screen. Then there are also some of us who take some pride in our writing skills.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Loved your post, Grant!
    You should have your own blog too!
    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what my wife thinks, too . . . But it's more fun making fun of hers!

      Delete
  8. I like that teacher!
    I wish more people would either proof-read or learn where the apostrophe goes. (Let's not get into there, their and they're).
    I love Diane's stories and skim over the very occasional typo and just keep laughing. Or crying, depending on what she has written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh! They're, there and their. Now THAT'S one to tackle! And on her behalf . . . thank you!

      Delete
  9. Haha... too funny...

    I try so hard to proof read and use the proper words... my oldest daughter calls me to tell me, mommy you used then and than wrong again...

    LOL... I did?... she give me my lesson, I soon forget... darn... hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what kids are for. To point out our mistakes. Sigh.

      Delete

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