Friday, May 30, 2008

A new pet peeve

I grew up with some strange dialects. It started off pure coal cracker, then morphed with Pennsylvania Dutch when I hit middle school. A summer in Philly gave me a lifetime of "wudderice" and, of course, there is this mishmash of central PA whatever it is that I've picked up. Somewhere in high school I came to realize that this oddball language I spoke was going to cause me a lot of trouble in the writing world. I pretty much had to relearn a lot about basic grammar and such, and I'm far (very far) from perfect.

Mostly, then, I take a deep breath when I edit. I know that people tend to write the way they speak. But I had a long-standing pet peeve: writing loose when lose is meant. That extra O drives me bananas. And I don't like bananas.

I didn't think that anything else could bother me as much as loose/lose. I was wrong. There's a new one, one that, for some reason, I've been seeing a lot lately.

Could of.

As in, I could of had cake but I had ice cream.

What they mean, of course, is could have.

Don't people think that looks weird? Could of? But probably not. In my editing travels, it is obvious that the basics of writing have either been ignored or long forgotten. I'm not talking about the poor skills teenagers and young adults have now, thanks to texting and IMing, but adults who had to diagram sentences in the seventh grade.

There is a lot of fuss made over those who don't have strong math skills and the need to better understand science. Frankly, I think it is time to push for better writing skills. After all, if you aren't able to communicate, all those other skills are irrelevant.

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