Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Grammar Goofs

Grammar Goofs
By Billie A Williams

I would be the last one to confront anyone for grammatically incorrect language since I am not the best at it myself. However, during a recent trip I spotted a billboard that announced to the world – at least those traversing the Interstate Highway 141, “This Board hits 12,500 cars a day.”

What horrendous accidents that must cause. I mean, first I didn’t know a bunch of sticks or boards, paper and paint could actually hit anyone’s vehicle set back off the road the required distance the way they are. The billboard itself seemed perfectly stationary. It seemed unfathomable that a singular billboard could sustain 12,500 hits by motor vehicles and remain completely unscathed. So therefore the grammar must be incorrect. Perhaps there wasn’t enough room to say ‘is seen by 12,500 cars a day.’

Then where did they get their statistics? They must have had one of those cords across the road that counts the number of cars that go by in order for their words to be valid in the first place. I wasn’t about to sit there and count the cars that went by to see if they told the truth about the numbers. You see once you lose credibility with your readers – all your words become suspect.

It is as important in fiction as it is in advertising not only to say the right words, but to say them correctly. If you are misinterpreted, if your structure or syntax is faulty, you could create a totally different impact then you planned to create. The above example is a good illustration of creating that distrust.

In fiction, if you report fact and have not researched properly, you could mislead your reader. The readers today are more discerning than years past. This is, I’m sure, due in part to the information being so much more readily accessible with the internet search engines. Readers do not take kindly to being led down a false trail of assumption.

Fiction, even though by definition a non-truth, readers still expect validity in your information. So, do not make a billboard of falsehood and wonder where have all your readers gone?

Grammar and research will go a long way in hooking and keeping your reader satisfied and trusting in what you say. Word of mouth is either a boon or a bust creating more fans for you by readers passing along to friends or family what they like about your work — or what they don’t like.

Forewarned is forearmed. Choose your words carefully, stick in the right punctuation, be certain your modifiers modify what you intend they should so your meaning is clear and play fair. Just the facts ma’am, clear unvarnished verifiable truths.
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Billie A Williams Accidental Sleuths
Solve Crimes With Wit, Wisdom and Chutzpah


JanetElaineSmith said...

Such carelessness is enough to drive a person mad, or do I need a car for that to happen?
Good one, Billie. I'm proud to see you on your grammatical toes.

unwriter said...

Janet beat me again! I'm getting old. Actually I've been fighting an unknown force the last couple of days that would just kick me off the net. Long story.

Anyway, good catch Billie. Glad to see that billboard missed ya.

Pee Wee said...

I've been hit by a lot of things. A hand, a cruel rmark, a car, a sadness--a kind word--but never a billboard. the highway must be covered with injured people and totaled cars.