A Linguistic Headache

PunctuationNow the creative writing course is firmly under my belt – can’t quite believe how quickly the eight weeks flew by – I’ve thrown myself, headlong, in to my proofreading course having now submitted my first assignment and almost at the halfway mark.

To consolidate this learning, I have been studying books and articles on English grammar and realising how little I know about the rules of my first, and only, fluent language. It wasn’t taught at my school (French & Russian grammar, yes – but not English), and everything I’ve learned has been picked up through reading.

There is a mass of information out there but one of the books I’ve reached for – to aid my understanding of punctuation – has been sitting on my shelf for some time, its pages only having ever been skimmed: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Now I realise that most of you probably read this a decade or so ago, but I’m usually behind or ahead of the times, very rarely running with it – I’ll probably elect to have a tattoo in my 70s, when it’s no longer fashionable – so bear with me.

The book resonates with me now that I’m getting to grips with the building blocks of language, and it’s hilarious. How could I have ignored this masterpiece for so long?

Having said that, some of it still goes over my head and despite an increasing understanding, I know I will never be able to argue the toss with an Oxbridge don when it comes to the nuances of intransitive verbs, predicative adjectives and indirect objects. But, at least, I know what they are now.

English grammar is a minefield, with punctuation right up there as the most potent incendiary device. As Truss says in her landmark book: “My own position is simple: in some matters of punctuation there are simple rights and wrongs; in others, one must apply a good ear to good sense.”

You see, even the experts can’t be definitive, suggesting certain elements are subjective. Oh well, will have to keep researching and make my own mind up about the more arbitrary details when it comes to my own writing style.

As part of my autodidactism, I have enrolled on a further free course with Future Learn, Introduction to Journalism, starting in September 2014. There are lots of other free courses on their website here, and the Start Writing Fiction course is to be rerun in October for those who are interested and missed it the first time round, or those who simply wish to repeat it.

And to end, I was delighted when I discovered this week that in the ‘Users’ section of WordPress there were many subscribers, as well as followers, listed to my blog. Unfortunately, I later realised that some of these may be spam. Does anyone know how you can differentiate between those that are genuine and those that wish to harm your site? Would really appreciate your advice.

Ta ta for now, and Happy Writing!

Copyright: bradcalkins / 123RF Stock Photo

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2 Responses to A Linguistic Headache

  1. Bernadette Davies says:

    keep up the good work xxx

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