aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Even Homer nods

I weighed in on a friend's use of words in her LJ recently, generating a little comment. I fear I may have looked as if I were applying for a post as the local grammar police. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If I really were one of those types who go around yelling "Gotcha!" every time somebody misused a word, I would exhaust myself on the internet. This is the Kingdom of Awful Usage. And nobody much cares, myself included.

Nevertheless, I like to be well-spoken (and well-written). I want to use words to good effect. I don't want to appear like I'm an overinflated doofus, which is what one looks like when one uses words (especially sophisticated words) improperly. So, however much it pains me to be wrong, I'd rather someone pointed out when I was wrong than let me go blithely along looking affected or clumsy.

Exemplum horribilis: I once had a light-hearted piece published in Dragon magazine, wherein I used flaunt when I meant flout. Nobody at TSR caught it. None of their usual readers caught it. But my mother caught it. Now, Margaret Collins sneered at all things Dungeons-and-Dragonish, but she was proud of her boy, which was the only reason she had deigned to read this stuff. And when she read it, my misuse of flaunt stood out like a sore thumb. She wrote a patronizing, whimsical letter about her boy's mistake to the editor, who published it with relish. I was mortified. Anything is better than having your mother correct you in print before your fellow hobbyists. Call it a Geek Tragedy.

Now, in order not to go crazy, I try to confine myself to correcting only those who, like myself, are in love with words and want to be seen as those who use them well. I figure they probably feel much as I do. This is what friends are for.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6).

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