Put words in my mouth

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Put words in my mouth



That phrase may be an anthem of the future, after years of poor spelling and flagging vocabularies.

It is one thing to learn spelling in school, quite another to take that out into the world, after high school and beyond.

Directly tied to spelling is the verbal arsenal called vocabulary. If you do not use it, you sooner or later  may lose it. Just like my 4 years of French, when you fail to write it or speak it, it takes residence in that corner of your brain where cob webs hang and dementia is only decades away.

Swell (Tres Bien)! Now I have to replace great words with: totally, fab, you know, rad ;and every manner of symbol or abbreviation: lol, :-O , lmao, ;-( , btw, 🙂 , ttyl.

Chew on this: Transcriptional Linguistics.

Contrary to popular opinion, ILY guys.


I Phones and a bone to pick

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First of all, I want to say that I am probably motivated by envy, but in the spirit of this web log, I am proceeding. Please do not take direct offense to this.

Last week I attended a banquet/fundraiser; great cause, good  food,  and 6 other fine people at my table. The only gentleman among us, we’ll call him Howard,  is a retired accountant and as is my want, I picked his brain in the interest of polite conversation.

So, I find out he is an accomplished retiree and a chaplain to boot. But there was one huge barrier (actually 4×8″) to my interrogation. I did not identify the model of the device, but Howard would check it at regular intervals; quite regularly and without regard to his surroundings.

This is a middle-aged man and he cannot bear to be out of touch. None of this, was he born  into, not a child of the ’90’s who never knew a world without cell phones and personal computers.

I did not see him text (none of my business) but  he did mention that he has 1800 Facebook friends……….I have 50. I may be feeling inadequate, but at least I compose complete and grammatically correct messages at all times! So there!

The moral of the story: “We are becoming a society who can’t go 5 minutes without checking our social media. What possibly could we be missing? In the 1800’s  it took weeks for a letter to go one-way. In 1900, a telegram took days to make the circuit. In 1950, you were lucky to connect with the person you were looking to talk to. In 1999, an email was like a letter; if the person read it, they would reply.

“In 2012, we want it all and we want it yesterday.”

Oh for the good ol’ days. “WHAT WAS SO DANG IMPORTANT HOWARD?”


Attention spans

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Attention Span

Sure I check my email frequently. Retailers dangle the latest bargains (hurry, 2 days only), AOL post the newest news from around the world (Romney is gaining ground), The WRITER’S MARKET tells me how to be a better writer (Is that a hint?), e-bills remind me about my obligations (you have a new bill from ComEd), I can do my banking from my fantastic home office chair and occasionally one of my friends rattles my cage. Oh and I cannot leave out my weather page, http://www.chicagoweathercenter.com; it tells me how to dress and if I need my umbrella.

 Facebook & Linkedin & Aboutme & Classmates & Pinterest, etc…….. have captured my attention. I happen to favour “Writing is Fun-damental”.

 But when I hit the road, my desktop computer stays behind and I rarely drag my laptop with me. For however long, I am separated from the cyber world. Today I am helping a friend with a few things (friends do that) and after a few hours, my “stuff”  will still be there when I return to lovely, leafy Richton Park.

This describes my world and how I stay connected. And though I am being  prompted to expand my social networking exposure, I survive the dark hours quite well.

I suppose that means my attention span is adequate. Tomorrow, I will address the polar opposite; the world of the smartphone (don’t miss my latest post).


Smiley Faces and other Font Fun

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Smiley Faces & Font Fun

I am a person who can express my emotions, often do, whether it is solicited or not. But one messaging  tool I have resisted is the 🙂 for happy and 😦 for sad, as well as those with a wink 😉 and others I have to scour my qwerty to recreate.



Call it a pet peeve, accuse me of being counter-cultural, but it is my choice not to end my emails or texts with lol or :).

So, for now, ” You make me laugh and you cannot see my face.”


Smiley Faces and other Qwerty Expressions


Smiley Faces & Other QWERTY Expressions

“This is the 2nd most viewed post here at Writing is Fun-damental. Let me know if you agree with me.”

Without coming off as counter-cultural, well maybe I am, I  refuse to use 🙂 to imply  I am smiling, or 😦 to solicit sympathy or even 😉  to convey the fact I am just kidding, LOL.

These are keyboard shortcuts that are  compounding  my fear that we , as a society, are abbreviating our way to relegating the King’s English to “Old School Nonsense” status.

Say it’s not so  Shakespeare! Please  join me, as I kick and scream at the very thought.

So for now, “Very, very funny _____ (fill in the blank),  and can you imagine my gleeful facial expression? (I used to think or hope that LOL meant Lots of Love.)

PS I am going to start a list of these symbols, just in case we need a glossary.


Smiley Faces and other Qwerty Expressions

The Elephant in the Room

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The Elephant in the Room

There is a parasite attacking our language at a major blind spot.

I have seen my BFF (oops I did it again) fall prey to it. Like everyone else, she is in a hurry. I cut her some slack, because she has the root skills learned from 5 decades of literacy; redemption by default.

I have a Facebook friend (ignore the Mohawk haircut) who posts sentences that I need an interpreter for. I will not re-post an example here and now, but I will when I spot a doozy.

Kory, I’ll call him, apologized to me the other day. I have a 27″ analog dinosaur televising device that he wants and needs. During our FB communications, I told him “You are infecting me”, a loving commentary on his social media writing style. He went on to post something which did not require a Facebook to English Dictionary, but the U’s and 4’s did not go away.

I started this blog to become a Grammar Nazi, if not the spearhead on the tip of  a new and growing movement. Reading is FUNdamental sprang up in the mid-60’s. Writing is Fun-damental starts right here, right now.

We have a generation that is peering over the edge of the cliff. They can see the canyon floor, but I don’t want them to jump.



Are we losing a generation to lazy abbreviations and other grammatical shortcuts?

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Abbreviation Nonsense

It used to be that habit and skill of reading needed more than a gentle nudge. RIF or Reading is FUNdamental came about when a former teacher in Washington DC was astounded by the lack of book ownership while tutoring impoverish children.  In 1966 Margaret McNamara, with the help of others so inspired, launched a book distribution program labeled RIF.

Reading motivation, the access to free books, and family/community involvement is the Powerpoint that shines the light on a real problem; it is one thing to learn how to read, but quite another to have and possibly own a bound book of choice.

If you ignite the kindling, you can light a fire. Reading is a fundamental skill that most of us treasure, some of us take for granted.

Writing is an acquired skill and increasingly a lost art. Grammar and spelling are a essential components to creative writing and are largely being trampled by the modern means of communication. Texting has spawned some crippling habits.

Instead of typing, “Are you going to McDonalds for lunch?”, we see this pop up on our 3.5″ screen, “R U going 2 MickeyD’s 4 eats 🙂 lol”. That snipped version is innocent enough, but unfortunately it is becoming the rule, not the exception and it is bleeding all over our children’s formal compositions, i.e. homework and even term papers.

Something needs to be done to stem this tidal wave of lazy abbreviation and I am stepping forward to be the Gwenny Hoff to writing, as Margaret McNamara was to reading. I may not be a school teacher, but I have cobbled together some 500,000 words into book form. Spelling means a lot to me. Sentence structure dictates the order of my words. That it all makes sense is secondary to what is proper & correct.

YOU SEE! That ampersand at the end of the previous paragraph (&) is short for (and). Oh my, have I become infected? NO!

Anyone who gets one of my emails gets a miniature literary treasure, not a blob of single letters, numbers replacing words or slang that needs some uninvented dictionary for translation.

Do you know what burns my butt? Answers: 1. A flame about three feet high (bic 3′ hi) and 2. fractured English.

My mission is to restore some decorum to the written word. Will you help me?

Stay tuned—–Gwenny