Tag Archives: language

Word Vomit: Stress Replacement

I’m a fervent believer that each human being possesses his or her own individual limit for stress, and he or she spends a lifetime finding ways to withhold, mitigate and delay it. I think of this stress limit as a threshold, like an incline of varied steep or shallow degrees, and stress is pushed upwards along it in a cart with round or square wheels. The stress cart battles against gravity and friction, also-known-as your metaphorical powers of stress resistance.

Why circle or square wheels? Some stress is quick-to-hit, while other stresses are slow, plodding marches to doomsday.  A quick circle versus the clunk, clunk, clunking of the slow-but-steady square. The image is amusing, but the square stress cart eventually reaches its destination.

Both can end in the same result: threshold reached… ka-boom.

So are you a ninety degree stress threshold bearer, forty-five, twenty-two-point-five, or perhaps only nine? Does it vary? What happens then as the stress cart reaches the top? And the ultimate question: how does stress reflect in your writing?

My stress pitfalls, as reflected in my writing…

Word replacement. Typing fast is a useful ability in many accounts, but it is a bane if your WPM  speeds along by the cracking of stress’s merciless whip. For me, words that are similar phonetically or grammatically but otherwise bear no semblance to one another end up interchanging like the Prince and the Pauper, but with less whimsy.

Example: While the Wright Brothers are often credited as the first men to successfully pilot a controlled winged aircraft in the year 1903, some students of history forget that manned flight had always existed in the form of the hot air balloon, invented centuries before.

The word replacement is there, perhaps tiny, but there.

Always, but not quite. The intended word was already, and makes more sense in the context of the sentence: the hot air balloon had already existed, not always… much like the Wright brother’s plane, the hot air balloon is not eternal, as always implies – its invention has a start date!

Oops. And these word replacements can sometimes sneak by the editing eye on second or even third review. Stress editing is stress replacement’s brother culprit.

I have made this word replacement mistake many times, and with the following co-conspirators: now/not, know/known, server/serve, always/already, occasionally forgoing the word “the” altogether, and many others.

All of these stress replacements are met with the following reaction: where did that come from, and what was I thinking?

Threshold reached… ka-boom.

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An Open Letter of Apology to the English Language

Dear English Language,

I write to you directly for the first time, despite using you for a number of years. However, my use can best be described as rampant misuse, and spectacular misuse at that. Today, I will atone to all my wrongs, this I promise you.

Actually, may I call you English? I feel as if we know each other. After all, we have been fraternizing for a while. In fact, both of us have names that begin in capital letters – we’re both proper nouns! English, we’re bonding already.

So I come to you now, my good friend English, perhaps not quite on my knees, for I’m unsure whether you are tall enough for me to do so. I would grovel too, but in truth I am quite angry, and perhaps that will make this a terrible apology. I’m certainly not trying to be terrible – quite the opposite, in truth!

But English, I’m at an impasse:  I try, I so very try. But English, I do not know what you want. What do you want from me?

If your message was clearer, I could happily comply. Perhaps that is the source of my frustration, our frustration: English, you and me simply don’t communicate. So let’s communicate, be open and be honest. Let’s bare those scars and begin healing together Please, English.

Here goes.


English, I’m sorry for…

…the following mispronunciations I committed for many years:

Malady, bosom, pronunciation, brooch, Pacific, specific, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Raleigh, Mississippi, definitely, machine, judicial, schedule, recycle, macabre, reconciliation, listening, responsibility, narrative, Carnegie, and many others.

I also apologize for listing words above that were not originally English, but English speakers are required to know regardless. English – you’re a beautiful jewel, why not shine and borrow less from others? Haven’t we borrowed enough already?

Whoops, a little of that frustration came through. I’ll try to keep that in check, English. Promise.

…the following innovation to your alphabet I added as child:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…
Q, R, S, PEE-YOU-PEW! W, X, Y and Beee…!

In my defense, English, my addition still made  a catchy song, perhaps even more so. I think I will delight in hearing the accidental additions of my own children… oop! I mean, this is an apology. English, sorry for doing the alphabet thing. It wasn’t funny. Wasn’t funny at all.

…the following word abuses:

Prefixes noninteresting, misbelief, uncorrect, ununderstandable, inconstructive, inbelievable, misusage, undescribable

Verbs –  goed (went), seed (saw), hitted (hit), swum (swam), broked (broke), runned (ran)

Plural – deers, sheeps, fishes, mooses, meeses, mouses

Miscellaneous

never understanding when to invoke or evoke,

attain/obtain,

writing “business” instead of busyness,

a/an,

affect/effect,

their/they’re/there,

it’s/its,

subject verb agreement in general, really

alot,

alright,

gratuitous portions of “like,” and “you know” and “you know what I mean,”

and many others.

Really English, “goed” makes much sense. When a little girl conjugates “to go” all by herself, it’s a marvel of language learning to see her independently jump the gap between present and past tense. Why then, must we correct her and tell her that though her idea was astute, it was incorrect, because the past tense of “to go” is “went?”

Urk, wait! This is an apology. I’m sorry again, English. I’m sure the little girl will get over it – get used to it, even. Thick skin and all… ahem. To continue:

…the following misspelling atrocities, some recent:

misspell, accommodation, rhythm, embarrassing, knight, museum, voluntary, restaurant, Pennsylvania, refrigerator, license, exaggeration, foreign, argument.

…demonstrating exactly how I misspelled these words:

mispell,

accomidation,

rythim,

embarising,

night/nite,

musuem,

volintary,

resterant,

Pennslyvania/Pennslyveinea,

refridgerator,

lisence,

exsaggeration,

foriegn,

arguement,

and many others.

I’m pretty certain that all these misspellings make sense in one form of another. If you were spelled a bit more phonetically, English… um, I did it again. Shutting up.

…making fun of all your homophones.

What are homophones?

bear/bare

their/there

scale/scale

rose/rose

we’re/were

board/bored

and so many others.

But English, there is just no way I can properly remember their spelling and meaning without a mistake now-and-then! And sometimes, the differences seem so silly… no, wait. Apology time, shutting up. Sorry again, English.

In conclusion…

It’s just so barely bearable to lay bare all the embarrassment and frustration over the years without that twinge. I must ask: are you embarrassed, too? Embarrassed that you are so difficult to master, or that those who attempt to master you come so short in such silly things?

Perhaps it’s a matter of pride. English, do not be prideful. Come to our parties, grace our presence. We’ll memorize your odd spelling, irregular verbs, homophones and other confusing nuances together. We’ll have such a good time, and we’ve managed to have good times over the years despite an argument now-and-then. I think you and I have a future. Don’t you?

English, you are difficult, you at times make my life difficult, but I forgive you. English, will you forgive me?

Forever with Love, and Always Yours,

– Mitzi

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Word Vomit: on Gratuitous Mispelling

It is always disheartening when you discover, despite years of use and blissful obliviousness, that you’ve managed to voluntarily mispell a word without notice or slight suspicion. You claim yourself a grammar Nazi, a dedicated editor and spelling specialist, and yet sometimes, the English language and its nonsensical spelling manages to elude you. Curse you, odd spelling. Curse you, irregular verbs. Let us restart the language from the bottom-up, and make it  more “sensical.”

Oh, if only.

But to share my embarrassing realizations over the years, a slew of words commonly mispelled, by both me, dedicated word smiths or casual users alike:

definitely – often spell definately. I was guilty of this transgression until sixteen years of age, when spell check flagged this misnomer until my misuse finally clicked in my brain. The culprit? Attempting to spell phonetically, which is the most common yet most unforgivable part of writing the English language.

foreseen – also known as forseen. The e is not necessary in the word for, and it is pronounced in the same way regardless of its presence. In other languages, such a spelling would sound out as so: “for – eh – seen.”

pronunciation – often spelled as pronounciation. I am terribly guilty of this, and am attempting to drop this grammatical faux pas much like an addictive habit. I will personally blame variations such as pronounce for this common mistake, as well as the natural attempt for us English speakers to phonetically type out compound words.

publicly – or the incorrect variation, publically. Oh, how I’ve transgressed so. Another phonetic spelling, and the frequency of my phonetic typing attempts lead me to wonder how brother and sister writers in other regions spell things in embarrassingly incorrect manners.

a lot – more of a phrase than a word, this is more of a peeve on my part than personal mistake – alot. I was absolutely guilty of this grammatical crime until twelve, and perhaps it is the deep, embedded embarrassment as well as occupation as an English instructor that immediately throws me into a frenzied fit when this word crosses my path. A phrase, not a word! A plague upon you!

all right – the war wages between casual use versus formal use, the informal version is alright. I was once vehemently struck down by academia for using this word in fiction, and now I meekly approach alright like a naughty child expecting a spanking. Is the informal version warmly adopted enough into our lexicon that my painful memory can be erased, or will the pain strike again the next time I dare? It is operant conditioning gone wrong, and now I expect an electrical shock at any point in time. And yet, “altogether” is acceptable… no, no! Don’t rationalize, just go with it!

The above is just a smidgen of lessons and observations, there are many more mispelled words and bastardized phrases in the English language to share. Perhaps I will return again and lament another personal grammatical mistake on my part, and perhaps in the future I will eventually script a lengthy letter of apology and send it off to the void:

English, I’m sorry. You’re a difficult language, and try as I can, I cannot understand you, despite how much  I try, try, try.


January 25, 2011 edit: I do not possess the same satirical wit of as writers past, and cannot claim innocence. Mispell is also misspelled, and it is added to my list of gratuitous spelling crimes.

Year twenty-four, dear diary: the English language ever eludes me, but I can’t tell who or what is more silly – me, or the words with spelling that forever confuses. I’ll leave this page open and blank, because if today is any indication, I will add to this list for the rest of my lifetime.

I better start scripting that lengthy apology letter.

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