IWSG: Pet Peeves in Reading, Writing, and Editing


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

A couple days ago, I was talking about formal language. No, not written language. The spoken variety. The kind where there’s a correct and an incorrect pronunciation for everything, and mostly… you have to learn it in a butt-in-chair, take notes while the blow-hard speaks kind of way. Not the reading after a long day at work way. There’s a street not far from here, with one of those thoroughly anglicized names that a 19th century planner picked because it fits his system.
And wouldn’t you know… a friend of mine dared to pronounce it the way it’s been pronounced ever since the railroad scratched a line on the map–the way 100 out of 100 dentists in my neck of the woods would pronounce it–and some pretentious ex-local chose to correct her. It’s saw-teee-o, dah-ling.
Now, I happen to know the ex-local in question pretty well. And her Spanish sucks. Like in the sense of mine is abysmal (never took a class in my life), and I’m still horrified by hers.
It’s saw-teee-o, dah-ling.
Oh, yes, you know I’m thinking about voice, now. I’m pretty sure every writer I know is hung up on voice. Maybe every person I know, although a lot of them wouldn’t phrase it that way.  Do I sound too… (what? everybody has one. You know. rural. urban. ethnic. bland.) Do I sound smart enough? Educated enough? Pretty enough? Do I sound like a human being, or like an aging recording of a dusty academic?
Should I go back to day one and re-learn the pronunciation of every word I’ve ever read, but not heard?
There’s a lot of philosophy in language. A lot of philosophy in voice.
Do you translate the dirty parts with glee? Or do you assume the people who are smart enough to understand already know? Do you feel the need to protect the common man from the gutter-world of “sucked off?”
And once you know your own world view–mine happens to be that “smart” is for everybody, regardless of whether they happened to be born in Cambridge and educated at great expense–how do you express that in your writing?
August 2 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?
The pronoun I’m a big stickler for is “who.” Not who vs. whom. I’m pretty much good with whom being archaic, but the thing where people use “that” instead of “who”  to refer to human beings, animals, and sentient garden rakes? The (living, thinking character) that whatever…. Ugh. I mean, the accusative case is tricky (Okay, yeah. I’m just saying that to annoy the Latinists among us.) but just about anyone should be able to tell whether they’re talking about a human being or a cinder block.


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    im dyslexic all of this stress me out, as long as I get what someone is trying to convey I couldn’t care less hehe

    • Reply

      Dyslexic or not, you’re a natural story teller. I could see you doing a book from your blog stories.

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    I can only choose one pet peeve? Ok. I hate overwriting when I read. Unless a person’s appearance tells me something important about him, I’d like to create my own visual image. Ditto inanimate objects. The MC had blond hair and a maroon Toyota? Maybe I want him to have black hair and a blue Toyota. Same when I write. You can often “set the scene” with a few well-chosen phrases. Sometimes I feel like a writer is using description to up their word count.

  3. Reply

    Hi – I’m co-hosting this month and popped over to say hi. I’m afraid I’m guilty of who vs. that 🙂 Grammar is one of those things that trips me up. I can often see grammatical mistakes that others make, but never see my own.

    • Reply

      I’m the same way. Can’t see a thing I’m doing wrong. Beta readers are my rock stars!

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    I think I wrote too many peeves on my post! But I totally feel your pain, especially with the story about the pronunciation of that street name.

  5. Reply

    Wow. I really, really don’t like it when someone tries to correct my pronunciation – especially when they’re wrong. I get the who/whom confusion, but not the who/that, though it must get difficult remembering which garden tool is sentient 😉

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    Interesting thought! And now I’m sitting here thinking …. hmmmm… do I do that? I’ll have to keep this in mind.
    Thanks for your post.

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    LOL, you are the second person I’ve read to post about that and who as their pet peeve. Great minds think alike to be cliche. Happy Writing.

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    Argh! Using “that” when it should be “who” drives me mad. My other huge one is using “laying” when it should be “lying”. No, no, no!

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    I’ve heard people use “that” that way, and it does strike me as odd. My bigger pet peeve is actually when people use “whom” as a nominative form. “Who” as an accusative doesn’t bother me, because lots of people do that and it’s probably the way of the future for our language. But “whom” as the nominative? It’s like people are going out of their way to sound pretentious, and also incidentally getting it wrong.

    P.S.: I love being able to talk about English as though it were Latin!

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