Tag Archives: phonetics

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.


Filed under word vomit