As I continue to work on things away from this blog (which is a collection of Free-Time/Casual Online Writing, Remarks, And Notes By ME Whelan) and continue to figure out what goes and what stays of my existing online-writing, the de-emphasizing of one or another continues as well....

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Of Perfect Grammar All The Time

The other day I ran into a Facebook post/link that was going around, and it was - like - 10 (maybe) common mistakes people make when pronouncing some words.  I read it and cleared myself of any wrong-doing in the grammar department, at least when perfect grammar matters.  Grammar- rules is one my strong areas, so when perfect grammar matters I'll make it a point to make the grammar correct.

There are some "more elegant" grammar rules about which I'm not always entirely certain (particularly when it's a situation that's a little more complicated or "iffy".  When the grammar needs to be perfect, however, I'll either look up how to handle something like "advanced"  punctuation or else re-word the thing and avoid the matter completely.  There are many situations in which - really - no "advanced" punctuation or any other kind of grammar should be a factor in the first place.

With the stuff I write online for my own purposes I don't even aim for perfect grammar a good part of the time, but for the person with decent grammar skills it's not all that difficult to come up with good-enough grammar and still end up with something acceptable (or at least acceptable enough for the purpose).

The Facebook book wasn't about grammar, however.  It was about pronunciation of certain words, and as it happened none of them was a word that I don't pronounce correctly.  Of course, I have some words that I may not pronounce correctly.  Sometimes that's regional.  Sometimes it's habit.   I don't think there are many, for the most part, and I kind of know which words they are.

Anyway (that was one of the words in the FB thing, which point out that "anyways" is incorrect), the post got me thinking about words, playing with words, using words, etc., and I thought about one of my personal favorites, "a-whole-nother".   No, I don't mean that's one of those things that other people say wrong (and it therefore irks me, or else has caused me to put it on a "pet-peeves" list).  I mean I actually like "a-whole-nother; and while I certainly wouldn't use it when perfect grammar/word use is important I have no intention of ever trying to overcome my tendency to use it if/when it works well for me.

When one is sure of herself with something like grammar (or any number of other things) one is confident enough not to take some things all that seriously.  Then, too, when one is confident enough with some things one is often also confident enough to know how to sort out what may be worth valuing a little more than, maybe, others think it should be valued.

When I as in my teens my girlfriend and I would have (what I thought were) all the usual conversations friends have about pretty much "all of life", from the big stuff to the silly stuff.  I think with the lighter/sillier stuff we were less likely to do this, but somewhere along the way we discovered how frequently we seemed to say, "a-whole-nother" in our youthfully exuberant "heavier" conversations about things like the meaning of life, philosophy,  or even just what we wanted for our own lives and futures.

I don't recall the conversation that involved the first awareness and laughing about we both used "a-whole-nother"  as often as we did; but after the first couple of times we laughed about it (and how wrong it really was) we kind of agreed to agree that we knew it sounded "stupid" but couldn't seem to stop using it but had no intention of trying to overcome it, at least not when the conversation was between just the two of us.

I guess, even though we didn't say it, we both just kind of knew that the conversations in which "a-whole-nother" tended to crop up so often were more important than grammar between friends.

So, after the first couple of times of laughing and or talking about "a-whole-nother" we would  just kind of acknowledge that it cropped up when it did by using some facial expression or hand gesture or head movement (whatever worked at the time) and keep talking.  We didn't have time to laugh or talk about "a-whole-nother" every time our inability to overcome it became, yet again, evident.

When I started writing online on a casual basis and wanted to write in a less formal way and in a way that I hoped would come across as if anyone reading would know that I was trying to write more "as friend" than "as writer" , it would occasionally yet again become clear to me that in all the years since I first became aware of the "a-whole-nother" problem I still had not overcome my apparent attachment to to it.

The good thing about writing on a casual basis and/or on one's own terms is that one can take some liberties with grammar if/when such liberties are used judiciously.  So, while there certainly were times when I'd correct the "a-whole-nother" in my head and instead use a proper "another while", there came a time when I decided not to even try to overcome the "a-whole-nother" thing.  What is really needed, I thought, was simply to punctuated as properly as something like that could be.

As I said, when one is sure of himself with words and grammar one sometimes takes liberties with the words and language one sees as his/her friend.  Friends and communicating and conversation aren't most often about perfection, but about relating and understanding and sometimes just enjoying.

Of course, I could have easily gotten rid of the "a-whole-nother" thing in writing because if I hadn't made the conscious decision to punctuate it it would have gone so against my usual perfectionist tendencies that the only course of action would have been to correct it

One reason I decided to keep alive "a-whole-nother" was just that I thought it was funny.   :)  Another reason was, however, that (particularly in this day and age in which we live and in which there's a certain "dime-a-dozen-ness" (there I go again with the liberties...) to things that are perfect; while at the same time there's certainly a "dime-a-dozen-ness" to things that are not.

I guess what I thought was worth preserving was the unspoken, un-typed, and even un-laughed-about point that sometimes there's more to be learned about what matters from a carefully executed "grammar atrocity" than there is from all the strived-for perfection in the world.

My friend and I had our own phrase for someone/something we considered to be "neither here nor there" - basically, someone/something we viewed as unremarkable, neutral, not really worth noting, etc.  That phrase was (like a) "loaf of bread".  That, however, is a-whole-nother subject and a-whole-nother thing and most likely not one for a-whole-nother time.

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