Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The blog wot I write.

Besides my author page on Facebook, I have a personal page with stuff about tango dances and skate events in London. If I get two or three comments on a post, that’s an unusual level of interest. Then last week I posted this:

OK, I'm mildly OCD. But if you agree with something, please don't write 'Here! Here!' when you mean 'Hear! Hear!' It irritates me every time (cue a thousand replies all saying 'Here! Here!') but I don't want to be one of those annoying people putting passive aggressive notes on your posts. So please get it right: you're asking people to listen to ('hear') what is said, not calling them to heel like wandering puppies.

Fifty comments later, I gave up keeping count.

It seems that people really care about misuse of English. Pet hates that they shared with me included:
  • 'I' instead of 'me'.  Eg "here is a picture of Lisa and I' so annoying. Also … "myself" and "yourself" instead of me and you is SUPER annoying. And wrong.
  • The absolute WORST for me is when people say "I could care less". 
  • I can't bear people posting that they can't "bare" it. 
  • Apostrophes that don't belong in 1940s etc or to make plurals.
  • Not using the correct there for the context drives me crazy … And the same applies for your.

Language is a sensitive subject. In France, they even have laws to insist that you use the language correctly. In England, where the way you speak and the words you use precisely define where in our carefully stratified class structure you belong, you break the rules at your peril. Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a whole book obsessively setting out the rules on these things, was a huge bestseller.

It’s odd that at a time when many readers and writers don’t seem to care very much about the actual language that appears in books (I’m sorry, but I am going to pick on 50 Shades … because I just have to) so many people do care about the language of everyday communication.

This blog concentrates on history. (Nothing about Napoleon today: two hundred years ago he was still in Paris.) I do write about other things from time to time and, as on my Facebook, if one or two you respond, I am bowled over by your interest. One of the "other things" is the actual business of writing. So, given the number of Facebook ‘friends’who felt the urge to comment, I thought I'd post the same thing here and see what my blog readers think.

The floor is open.


  1. I care very much about grammar and punctuation, but I care as much about beautiful prose - ugly, lumpy sentences with too many adjectives, adverbs instead of strong verbs and so forth, can put me off stories. However, there are times when it is vital to break the 'rules' (which are changing all the time, English is an evolving and flexible beast). Often this is to do with voice, though not always, and those who break the rules with panache are often groundbreakers.

  2. I get so irritated when, (I guess someone is saving energy when using FB from a mobile) they enter the Post with no punctuation! It can cause the entry to mean the opposite of that which is intended. (OK, I know, remember LynneT!)

    Is it impossible for folks to learn the difference between 'bought' and 'brought'?

    Steam is seen to issue from the Dragon's beak: plurals seem to need to be represented by 's ... Thus I constantly see plural's ! (Belonging to the plural? Pah.)

  3. I tried several times the other night to comment, but Teh Intarwebs hated me. I had to propitiate the gods with the sacrifice of spelling itself.

    Here a couple days later, I've forgotten all the cleverness I had in store, but will say this much - one of my favorite pastimes as I grow older is not only coming to understand and enjoy how illusory the rules of our language really are. The Arrant Pedant blog is a marvelous read, and it's not infrequent that the Pedant deconstructs and blows to smithereens grammar prescriptivism.

    I can't get past my annoyance with certain pronunciations - "suppose to" ... "new-cular" ... "JOOL-urry" ... "PROSSA-seez" - but I'm learning to love the astounding breadth, variety, and expression of our magnificent mother tongue. Watching it change even over a lifetime is endlessly absorbing.