All it Takes is One Little Letter …
I have to say that my love of words, and therefore my love of writing comes from my mother. She was an avid reader who used to get through a whole paperback in one night, much to my amazement. She always had words of wisdom to share with me, and one tidbit that has always stayed with me was her advice to “learn a new word every day.” Even at my age I can still find words I’ve never heard of or never used in a sentence. I challenge myself to incorporate those treasures into my writing as well. Whenever someone asks me, “What does that mean,” I do what my mother did and politely refer them to the nearest dictionary. “Look it up, and that way you’ll never forget it.”
I come from a legal background that taught me to spot a typo from a mile away. I share this quirk with my friend, Tracy, who was a court stenographer, and we often laugh about mistakes we see on closed captioning or in print. We’re really getting lazy people. We write things and hit “send” and “publish” without proofing. I will admit, I’ve done it too – we all have, but lately I’m seeing it with a disturbing regularity.
I often download e-books with glaring mistakes. I’m one of those annoying people who write website owners about word mistakes on their websites. One particular website advertised “free medications.” What they were really offering were “free meditations” – big difference.
Just a few minutes ago, I decided to take a break from work and watch the Dr. Phil show for a bit of reality and a perhaps a good lesson in psychology. I find the listing and hit the “info” button to see what today’s show is about. It reads …
“…; a man named Hector Campos shot and killed his neighbor Ana Weed over an alteration in his driveway.” My brain immediately starts asking things such as – why was Hector getting his alterations done in his driveway, and why would he kill his neighbor over them? Did she mess up his hem? Wouldn’t he take his alterations to a tailor?
Obviously, the sentence is meant to read “… over an altercation” not an alteration. One letter added or missing can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Just ask a lawyer I worked for who spent three weeks working on a brief that was addressed to the Public Administrator. After drafting, proofing and revising for a nearly a month, it wasn’t until the messenger was long gone before we all realized that the document was addressed to the Pubic Administrator. That was the first time I saw someone nearly have a heart attack over a word – over one missing letter in a word. Perhaps that’s an argument against over-editing as opposed to not editing at all.
Of all the lessons my mother taught me, her suggestion to learn a new word each day (as well as learning its meaning and how to use it in a sentence) is something that really stuck with me. Did you ever watch the spelling bees on television? You think it’s going to be the most boring competition ever witnessed by man, and next thing you know you’re glued to the show cheering on your favorite speller. So in honor of my mom and her love of words and all those young, talented spellers out there, I think I’ll post a new word each week in the sidebar, just for kicks. For now, it’s back to work for me and then I’ll be off on my search for the new “Word of the Week.”
Be sure to leave a comment and offer a suggestion for Word of the Week or just say “hello.” Thanks for stopping by.