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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Writing Gooder... does anyone care anymore? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Thomas Wayne
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Fortunately for the English language, the decades Prince Nelson Rogers spent converting “to” and “too” to “2”, as well as substituting “4” for “for” and “fore” (say it to yourself a few times) did not seem to have a lasting effect on how most of us write. Neither did the extreme act of changing his name to a bizzare symbol [see image below] - Pronounced “Tafkap” or, less commonly, “Pafkap” - seem to affect how the rest of us call ourselves. Even the ever-expanding popularity of 100-character alphanumeric pagers has not completely ruined our primary mode of communication… yet.

I’m thinking about this after reading a recent API article listing the top three most commonly misspelled words; they are: “you’re”, “they’re” and “it’s”. Frequent readers of this and other forums know that we can reasonably add “then/than” to that mix.

On the other hand, in the spoken language, overuse of words such as “like”, “basically” and “actually” – as sentence prefaces and sound-void fillers – has become all too common.
Example:
“Do you like Peter Graves as an actor?”
“Like, I totally DIG Graves!”
“You’re a gravedigger?”
“Well basically, like… huh?”

All of which “begs the question” (actually, does anyone even know how to use THAT phrase correctly? Like, basically, I don’t think so)… does anyone care anymore?

Regards,
Thomas Wayne

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MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Missing_Link
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Being a copywriter, it is my job to care!

ML
Peter Loughran
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If you are refering to the messages posted in the Cafe, then to be quite honest with you I don't really care. I'm personally here to talk or "chat" about magic not to talk about how one spells or their proper or improper use of grammer. Most of the posts here are most likely rushed and the author may not enjoy or even bother editing such material. I'm sure I have a few spelling mistakes or grammer "no-nos" in this post. As long as I understand what they are communicating then it doesn't really bother me. However if I purchase a book or even say a crossword puzzle, then I expect to be reading a document that contains proper use of the english language. Thats partly what I'm paying for. In that case I can see your point. But thats just me.

Like...catcha lata dude!



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Greg Arce
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Thomas, I agree up to a point. Language is a fluid thing... ever changing. Slang slowly becomes custom and what once was considered proper English becomes a phony sounding way of speaking. I try to stick to the rules, but find myself veering into the world of having fun with words and phrases. "Basically", I believe that as long as you "actually" get "you're" point across then "itz" "awl rite"... "like" for sure.
"2 BEE oar Knot too BEE" that is the question? Right? Rite? Write? Hoo nose 4 sure?
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Margarette
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I have been known to spend an hour deciding if an "A" or a "THE" sounded better in a sentence. One reason why I was the office proofreader for a while in one of my jobs. Nothing went out unless it came across my desk first...and they all hated it when I brought out my red ink pen!! Smile

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Peter695
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Thomas,

In case you may not have known, Prince changed his name to a symbol because of a contractual dispute. It was a strategic move to terminate a contract. The people who wouldn't let him out of his contract were then were forced choose to market a name that no longer applied, market an artist called: (?), or terminate the contract. Regardless, your point is not lost.

I am, occasionaly, bothered by the misuse of some words. "You're" vs. "your" and "theirs" vs. "theres" are at the top of my list. The misuse of those words does affect my regard for the author. I don't expect anyone to be particularly careful when they post or otherwise expose their writing to public view in a casual setting. I don't think it's too much to ask an individual to learn information about half a dozen words and how to use them. Since there are so few words that commonly cause such a strong reaction, it tells me about someone's standards for themselves.

Peter
Reian
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When talking about proper english, why must we end our post with "internet talk" like dis n like dat.We iz real dumb fo talk like dis. I guess it's a cool trend but whatever. For myself, I go to a business/tech school so talking proper English is a must.
Peter Marucci
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Thomas,
"Begs the question" as in using the question to prove itself; not simply asking the question.
And, while I agree that the language is a fluid thing -- even George Orwell railed against slavishly following style and committing what he called "barbarities in print" -- you must first know the rules, to break them.
As a long- (long!) -time career journalist, there is a basic thought here:
You must -- that's MUST -- have a consensus on spelling and grammar for the most basic of reasons:
If those you are writing to or for realize that you make mistakes in the things that they know, then why should they believe you when you try to tell them something they don't know?
Nuff sed.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-06-01 20:27, Peter695 wrote:
Thomas,

In case you may not have known, Prince changed his name to a symbol because of a contractual dispute. It was a strategic move to terminate a contract [...]


Yes, I did know that... quite a clever strategy it turned out to be. I tried a similar move, but with lesser results; the bank still wants their mortgage check every month.

Quote:
On 2002-06-01 20:51, Reian wrote:
[...] talking proper English is a must.


I quite agree. Speaking proper English is also a must...

Quote:
On 2002-06-01 21:57, Peter Marucci wrote:
Thomas,
"Begs the question" as in using the question to prove itself; not simply asking the question.


Yes, I know that also, but ask yourself if your explanation refines the concept enough for the average reader to grasp it. I've seen this phrase misused enough over the years - and in so many different venues - to want to scream... in proper English, of course.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Garrett Nelson
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When I am reading something and there is a mistake such as the one mentioned, I tend to focus more on the mistake than the message. There are a few that really urk me.

Spelling mistakes actually bother me less. I spell poorly, so I usually try to spell check when I can.

But that is just me. And everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

But the real point of my post (yes, there is one) is that on the internet there is often a language barrier. Sometimes you can even pick out the author's native tounge by what mistakes were made. Just "Food for Thought."
P T Flea
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We actually have a name for people who, like, always say like.
We call it the 'like disease'. I really HATE it. I always pick people up on it. If someone were to say:
"..and it was like, so hot"
I would say:
"It was so hot? Or it was like hot?"

I agree that people should learn the proper usage of the words that you mention, Thomas. Its all mentioned in you're post and your perfectly right. They're is my two cents. Smile

Cheers

PT
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Daniel Meadows
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There does seem to be a decline in the use of proper English, and the internet may be a large contributing factor. There doesn't seem to be the same emphasis as there used to be on correct grammar in schools.

I do seem to be from a generation that follows the path of least resistance, and a lot of spelling seems to be phonetic, "u can allmost ere ow dey r torking".

On the internet however, it doesn't bother me too much for the most part because a typo will often occur, but it does grate a bit when people use "they're" and "their" and "there" interchangably. I got a little annoyed with PT's post above before I realised it was a joke, why I got peeved I can't explain, it just seems to be ingrained from school.

As no-one has said it yet I will oblige, because English was always my bestest subject.
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Peter Marucci
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Garrett writes: ". . . on the internet there is often a language barrier."
Fair enough.
I am always impressed by those whose first language isn't English and yet are able to communicate in English.
Any mistakes they may make are forgivable.
However, for those who have English as a mother tongue, those mistakes are most definitely NOT forgivable (or shouldn't be).
There are a large number of people here whose native language is not English. And that should be all the more reason for native English-speakers to use the correct and precise words: You do want to be understood, don't you?
Peter695 put it well: "Since there are so few words that commonly cause such a strong reaction, it tells me about someone's standards for themselves."
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
John Pezzullo
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Here's a brief list of 'Magic Cafe' members who consistently post insightful, intelligent, and informative messages:

Geoff Williams
Paul Hallas
Bob Cassidy
Scott F. Guinn
Dan Watkins

They all 'write good'.

Perhaps there is a connection between the way a person thinks and the way that they write?
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Platt
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RE: "When I am reading something and there is a mistake such as the one mentioned, I tend to focus more on the mistake than the message. There are a few that really urk me."


There a few that really irk me too.
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P T Flea
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Quote:
On 2002-06-03 06:03, John Pezzullo wrote:
Here's a brief list of 'Magic Cafe' members who consistently post insightful, intelligent, and informative messages:

Geoff Williams
Paul Hallas
Bob Cassidy
Scott F. Guinn
Dan Watkins

They all 'write good'.

Perhaps there is a connection between the way a person thinks and the way that they write?






I think we can safely add our old esteemed buddy Peter Marucci to that. Don't you?

PT
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bad judgement.
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Scott F. Guinn
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For that matter, we can certainly add Mr. Wayne to the list. While we disagree nearly as often as we agree, his posts are almost uniformly well written, and his thoughts are clearly conveyed.

I enjoy writing, and while I have a fairly extensive vocabulary, I try to use "plain language" unless there is a lesser-known word that more exactly conveys the meaning I am trying to achieve.

It seems that quite a few magical writers (Frank Garcia comes to mind) misuse "big words" in an attempt to seem more intelligent. However, even writers who use more arcane jargon properly (Jon Racherbaumer comes to mind) may be unclear to the average reader. I enjoy Harry Lorayne's work (which is often riddled with grammatical errors) because it has a conversational tone and is easy to understand.

My point (and I do have one) is that proper grammar is important, but going overboard with antiquated rules and "million dollar words" may make your meaning even more difficult to understand than someone who has relatively poor grammar. You'll just "sound prettier."

The ideal for which I strive is to use proper grammar and exact language without letting it get in the way of successful communication. This is particularly necessary in technical writing, such as the explanations of magic effects. I like to think I succeed more than I fail, but I don't kid myself--there is ALWAYS room for improvement!
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Peter Marucci
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Thanks, PT.
"Esteemed" I like; and "buddy", too; but "old" -- well, that's another story! Smile
I'll have to think about that.
Or, as Leo Gorcey who played Slip Mahoney in the old Bowery Boys movies might say:
"Let me regurgitate on that for a minute."
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-06-03 18:56, Scott F. Guinn wrote:
[...] even writers who use more arcane jargon properly (Jon Racherbaumer comes to mind) may be unclear to the average reader. [...]

I don't kid myself--there is ALWAYS room for improvement!


I have a copy of Racherbaumer's "The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields" in my library (which I enjoy, by the way) because the original purchaser - a friend - thought the writing was too torturous for him to endure. He told me he came to the phrase "avuncular interlocutor" within the first three pages and, at that very point, put the book down for good.

Regarding room for improvement, beat poet Jack Kerouac once bragged that he NEVER revised his original writing; how it came out of the typewriter, so it stayed. Upon hearing about this self-congratulatory admission, Truman Capote said: "That's not writing, that's TYPING!".

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Peter695
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As you wrote, Thomas: "Kerouac... bragged". Capote must have made that comment on that bleak afternoon when he was sober. I think that was on a Thursday.

Peter, why do I think you are a big fan of the comedian Norm Crosby? Whatever happened to him?

My take on the grammar issue is simple. It should be used for the purpose of communicating clearly.

Peter
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