Sad Deaths and the Stigma of Poor Grammar

It’s difficult to get through even one day’s reading without having to struggle through the tangled mess of woolly words – a real dog’s blanket of poor grammar and lazy language use.

For most people, writing is not their primary function at work and, whether from lack of time or lack of training, they make mistakes. The smart ones hire professionals to edit and polish or proofread, so they have more time to spend on what they do best – the jobs they are paid to do.

For others, writing is what they are paid to do. They don’t always do it well.

That’s why, every day, absolute howlers stroll through the holes in their knowledge and saunter on, unnoticed by their editors.

Here are just two, of many that come ‘Across My Desk’.

‘The stigma surrounding . . .’ 

A stigma is a mark, with a negative connotation. So far, so good (or bad, in this case). A stigma doesn’t ‘surround’ anything, though. If there were a stigma ‘surrounding you’, you’d be laughing. It would have missed you altogether and you’d be clean.

It’s just like another silly expression: ‘The discussion centred around…’ Sorry, can’t be done! It would have to centre on; ‘around’ is for circumferences – that is, going around in circles, which, admittedly, is what a lot of discussions do.

Published version: It’s time to end the stigma surrounding mental health (21 Jan 2019) [Note: ‘health’ is the wrong word here, too. Health is a positive!]

Correct version: It’s time to remove the stigma of (or from) mental illness.

‘… but he sadly died’

I bet he did. He might not have been looking forward to shuffling off this mortal coil, and there might have been some long, lingering and sad goodbyes. But what if his exit were sudden? No time for tears or regrets, then…

Seriously, though, this is poor grammar because the adverb is misplaced. It should be written as ‘… but, we are sad to say, he died’ or even ‘… but, sadly, he died’, putting the sadness where it belongs – with the speaker (and perhaps others), who are sorry to see him go.

Published version: We remember those who have sadly died this year (16 July 2019)

Correct version: We remember sadly those who have died this year.

‘Hopefully, he died’

Am I being callous and cold? No. Just emphasising what ‘hopefully’ means. If he died hopefully (in a state of hope), it probably means he had an eye on reaching a better place.

So many writers don’t get this. It isn’t a case of poor grammar; they simply use the word wrongly and convey a meaning they didn’t intend.

‘Hopefully we’ll win fifty million dollars’  should be written as ‘We hope we’ll win…’

‘Hopefully we’ll buy a ticket’ makes more sense. Buying a ticket in the hopeful state is the only way to do it; otherwise, why bother?

‘Winning hopefully’ seems a bit selfish, in my opinion. After a fifty million dollar windfall, there’s pretty much nothing left to hope for.

Public Speaking … Who, Me?

Public speaking can be a challenge.  Some people believe it is the single most difficult, and most terrifying thing they are ever asked to do.

You might be preparing for an important business presentation. Or getting ready for a tough job interview. Perhaps you’ve been asked to give a speech at your best friend’s wedding.

Whatever the task, there are three basic things that you need to include in your planning. I have covered these three  areas, and much more,  in a new book:  Public Speaking …who, me?

Here are the three crucial areas you can’t ignore: Continue reading “Public Speaking … Who, Me?”

Books for Sale(s)

Do you want to attract quality, potential clients to your website?

Are you keen to show them, in detail, how your expertise can benefit them?

Have you come up with an idea for a book you could sell in your market niche?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, then why not engage a professional writer to create an e-book that you can offer to potential or existing clients? Continue reading “Books for Sale(s)”

Anyone for French?

Would you like to learn French? You can have individual lessons, or organise a group of friends and learn together.

Or perhaps you’d like a glimpse of French culture, and find out about what to see and do on your visit to France?

Why not arrange a short course?

You can focus on learning the language, or just enjoy an illustrated ‘virtual visit’. There’s a range of options available.

Continue reading “Anyone for French?”

Ran Blake – A Man in Black

‘Ran Blake – un homme en noir’, P. L. Renou (in  Bibliothèque(s), Paris)

I’ve just finished translating a comprehensive article, by expert French music critic, P. L. Renou. The article focuses on musician Ran Blake, and the relationship between his music and ‘film noir’.

If you need translation services (French to English), please contact me.