Please, Don’t Be Ignorant

Or at least don’t put your ignorance on display.

Hi Folks,

Ignorance is not a “bad” quality. It just means a lack of knowledge.

But if you choose to be a writer, shouldn’t you at least try to learn everything you can about the language and word usage?

It seems to me we’ve entered an age in which many of us would rather sound cool than illustrate that we aren’t ignorant.

I’m talking about creating nouns of verbs and verbs of nouns and other word-usage anomalies where there’s no reason to. Other than wanting to sound cool.

I don’t mind, really. But it’s still annoying. And disappointing.

When I read the work of a favorite author and see, in narrative, phrases like “should of” instead of “should have” or “should’ve,” it doesn’t completely destroy the reading experience. But it mars it pretty badly.

When I hear that a writer “journals” when what she means is “writes” or “keeps a journal” or “makes entries in a journal” I want to hurl chunks. I know, I know, but bear with me.

When I hear that someone “journals,” I wonder why nobody “diarys.” And why doesn’t anyone “novel” or “short story” or “flash fiction” or “poem”?

“I can’t go tonight,” she said. “It would interrupt my journaling.”

Yeah? Well, I can’t go either. It would interrupt my “short storying” and maybe even my “noveling.”

In the “Of Interest” section of my Daily Journal blog awhile back, I featured an article by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader.

In that article, he featured an infographic that was titled “The Ultimate Flowchart for Finding Your Next Book.” Perfectly legitimate, that.

But in the title of the article he wrote to showcase the infographic, Nate saw fit to change “Book” to “Read,” as in “The Ultimate Flowchart for Finding Your Next Read.”


The change doesn’t enhance the meaning of the title. It doesn’t make it more descriptive or more informative.

It only makes me wonder whether the author is actually ignorant or lazy (he isn’t, I believe) or is trying too hard to be innovative. The fact is, “read” used as a noun is horribly disfigured shortspeak for “reading experience.”

I feel the same way when, in a work written for publication, I find “gift” used as a verb in place of the perfectly adequate “give” (or “gifted” for “gave” or “presented”).

And I feel the same way when I hear professionals use “likely” when they mean “probably.” Or when body parts are given human traits (the character’s “nose smelled” “legs raced” “eyes looked” “ears heard” etc.).

Contrary to what some folks believe, I don’t go around looking for instances where the writer’s ignorance is on display. I really don’t. Even when I edit.

I just read. Those instances leap off the page of their own accord and interrupt my reading. And the author’s number one task is to not interrupt the reader while he’s reading the author’s work, don’t you think?

Food for thought.

‘Til next time, happy writing.

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7 thoughts on “Please, Don’t Be Ignorant”

  1. Likely and probably will perhaps be the death of me, though not before “should of” or “Have you ate yet?” shatters my faith in professionalism and proper grammar in general. Speaking of reading experience, this was a nice one. Thanks for the ray of hope 😉

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