No, actually, it is a rant.
I have run across several really bad choices that writers have made, ones that could so easily have been avoided if they had only looked up the word actually they wanted, instead of trying to sound smart.
They were battles of wits with themselves where both sides lost.
And anyone who knows me knows that I admonish writers to ‘do their homework’. It is so easy to do any research. We have the world at our fingertips. And if there is any extra effort to be made, it is well worth the time.
The first I will pick on will be “quasi-“. In a recent episode of a supernatural drama, a child of mortal and a fallen angel was described as “quasi-celestial”. No; maybe “semi-” or “demi-”, but not “quasi-”. It would not have ‘like’ qualities of an angel, it would either have the parent’s qualities or not. It was not going to be a pretender to Heaven, or anything like Heaven. “Quasi” was not the prefix the writer wanted.
The second bothersome word was “eatable”. Seriously, when searching for specific cupcake toppers, some of the ads described their wares as “eatable”, instead of “edible”. Granted, “eatable” makes sense but that is not the word. “Edible” is a world like “gubernatorial”, which makes no sense either, but those are the words we are to use.
My third and fourth choices are phrases.
Fittingly, number three is “twin triplets”. Yes, someone said ‘twin triplets’ in an article. Maybe they meant ‘identical triplets’, (which are a rarity), but “twin” means “two” and ‘triplet’ means one of three.
Why are these people writing and where are the editors?
I recently saw a show where I heard number four: someone visited an elderly priest in a retirement home. One of the ‘nuns’ there commiserated with the main character of the show about the frustration of speaking with a resident priest, whose mind was no longer sound. “It’s sad”, she said. “Sometimes he thinks he has to go and LEAD mass at his old parish”. Priests do not ‘lead’ mass. They SAY mass, they CELEBRATE mass, but they don’t LEAD it. How hard is it to find out the proper phraseology?
The fifth and last bothersome word I will not actually quote, since this is a ‘family’ site. I read it in a kids’ book, one that was first published the year after I was born. I had read several books by the same author and was always fond of them. I picked up the ones I had read and several others in a sale at my local library. I bought them for my grandkids and frankly, for myself. They were new, re-issues, and published just a few years ago, yet no one caught that when one of the kids, in describing another, likened him to a demon and he called him, well, he called him a specific type of demon which is of a sexual nature, no two ways about it.
I read the books before I handed them over to the grandkids, fearing that they may not make it back to me, and am I glad that I did. It was one of the few times in my life that I defaced a book. I blocked out the specific name with ink and wrote “demon’ beside it.
I can’t believe that the author had not actually looked up to find an actual name of the right type of demon to use. I assume he wanted to sound sophisticated, or thought that ‘demon’ was too harsh(!)
He could have said “imp”.
What amazes me more is that no one at the publisher’s caught the word, (even after all the reprints), and that no librarians or teachers complained. I have not gotten around to complaining to the publisher about it myself, but I should. I find it really odd that this got by everyone, all this time. I assume that most passed over the word, because ‘demon’ is implied, but it is just a kid being bothered by another kid, nothing evil was going on, and certainly nothing sexual.
And, trust me, lest I personally made an assumption and there is also a more benign meaning to the title, I looked it up…nope, the meaning is what I feared it was and that is all. Not suitable for children’s literature in the least, and not fitting within the context of the story, thank Heaven! I never would let my grandkids read it, (nor would I enjoy it). I try to get my grandkids to look up words they don’t know and I shudder to think of the young girls looking up that word and applying it to the character in the story. Since they are getting older, I actually explained why I changed the word.
The 14-year-old got told the actual word; he nearly choked.
Have you run across any ridiculous mistakes lately?