Sunday, February 22, 2009

Words and attitudes...

Back to writing topics. I'm judging a contest right now and am just so appalled by the number of out of period words and attitudes I've encountered in one of the entries. It just floors me that a writer could not even consider that possibly using very modern-sounding language will pull the reader right out of the story. The modern attitudes are a little more understandable, I guess, as some readers don't mind them at all, while others (ok, me) find them really annoying.

Am I just being overly picky? Do out of place/time words bother you? I'm not saying we should try to reproduce the language of the period, only avoid those that really just don't belong. It's not like it's hard to find out - there are so many good sources out there, starting with, and continuing with Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (9th and 10th editions, IIRC), the Complete Oxford English Dictionary - available in the reference sections in many libraries and online through many libraries as well, as well as William Brohaugh's English Through the Ages.

Ok - rant over.

In other news, I worked extra shifts last week, got a tad frustrated with the demo software in one of my courses and had a fantastic weekend with Sean, including a night out at a local pub, watching a friend of ours and his band play. Another busy week coming up :)

And last, but not least, I was thrilled to note all the new growth on many of the perenials in my front bed! It's so cool to see things growing in February (with apologies to my family/friends in the Central and Eastern Canada) - even our little arbutus is showing signs of coming back to life (we thought it had died).

So, how has your life been lately?


Currently Reading: Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster
Link of the Day: Everything You Know About English is Wrong


Melissa Marsh said...

Have to agree that out of period language is very frustrating to read. It does throw you out of the story.

Glad you had a nice weekend!

Annette said...

Funny you should mention the out-of-time wording issue. I just read a review over on AAR, where they reviewed a published book with the same problem. Words like 'lay off' and 'sob story'. Yikes.

Some stuff I can gloss over if I get really involved in the book, but repeated anachronisms would pull me out of the story.

How lovely that your garden is growing already. I can't wait til spring arrives here. Not much longer to wait...ten weeks or so? :-)

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Hello, hello, Lady Tess! I've only just come across your blog. It's always nice to see another familiar name out there in the blog-o-sphere.

I agree whole-heartedly with your blog, too. As a reader, nothing jerks me from a historical story faster than anachronistic dialogue. And as a writer, I'm pathetically compulsive about getting it right, checking any word I doubt against an on-line dictionary that gives me usage-dates. Don't know how many people actually notice, but at least I know it's as right as I can make it. *g*

I'm amazed that your garden's already showing signs of life!

Tess said...

Melissa - glad it's not just me :)

Annette - like you, I CAN gloss over the occasional out of period word or anachronism, but when they come fast and thick, it's just too much.

Susan - cool to see you here!! I share your obsession over in-period words. Once I finish a rough draft, I go through my ms and note down every word/phrase I THINK might be wrong for the period and verify with at least three reliable sources. Glad to know I'm not alone in this!!!

Sam said...

it would have be really quite glaring for me to notice, particularly if it is a book that I am really engrossed in. What bothers me more are spelling mistakes!! (but I probably shouldn't get you started on that one!!)