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Examples of life overtaking reference sources

Ross at Play

I have come across quite a few examples where references sources (especially regarding word usage) state something is incorrect, but my reaction is: Bugger that! I will continue doing that in fiction because the incorrect use has become so common in everyday usage that doing the correct thing would sound awful.
These are the examples I can think of.
Do others have more examples of things they consider "right" for fiction, despite being technically incorrect.
***
'I' vs 'me'
CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"When you need the first-person singular, use it. It's not immodest to use it; it's superstitious not to."
***
I might try to rewrite a sentence to avoid an ungrammatical use of 'me', but I would use 'me' on SoL in narratives (in dialogue it is ALWAYS what the character would say) when 'I' would sound so pretentious readers would feel I was "talking down at them".

'he' vs 'him'
CMOS (5.43) states about this:
"Strictly speaking, a pronoun serving as the complement of a be-verb or other linking verb should be in the nominative case {it was she who asked for a meeting}. In formal writing, some fastidious readers will consider the objective case to be incorrect in every instance. But in many sentences, the nominative pronoun sounds pedantic or eccentric to the modern ear {Was that he on the phone?}."
***
My view is 'I' vs 'me' sounds just as 'pedantic or eccentric' to most.

'like' vs 'as'
CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"The use of like as a conjunction (as in the old jingle "like a cigarette should") has long been a contentious issue. Purists insist that as must introduce a clause and like must always be a preposition coupled with a noun {cool like springwater}. The fall of that old rule has been predicted for five decades, but today like as a conjunction is still not standard. See also 5.181."
***
My view is that became 'standard' for ordinary people decades ago.

CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"This phrase has two legitimate and two illegitimate uses. It may unimpeachably have verbal force (base being a transitive verb, as in they based their position on military precedent) or, in a passive sense, adjectival force (based being read as a past-participial adjective, as in a sophisticated thriller based on a John le Carré novel). Two uses, however, are traditionally considered slipshod. Based on should not have adverbial force {rates are adjusted annually, based on the 91-day Treasury bill} or prepositional force (as a dangling participle) {based on this information, we decided to stay}. Try other constructions {rates are adjusted annually on the basis of the 91-day Treasury bill} {with this information, we decided to stay}."
***
My view is I'm not going to rewrite a perfectly understandable 10 word sentence with a 12 word sentence just to avoid irritating a few pedantic arseholes! In fact, I would consider irritating them an additional benefit of using a technically ungrammatical sentence.

I have seen quite a few examples of this type of thing - where dictionaries and style guides insist some type of usage is incorrect. I consider those types of things to be merely historical anomalies - because decades or centuries ago someone preparing a dictionary only recognised a word as being used as an adjective, but people have found other ways to use the word that are perfectly understandable. I simply DO NOT ACCEPT that when a dictionary lists a word as being ONLY an adjective that uses as other parts of speech are therefore incorrect.

Finally, one dear to all our hearts on SoL ...
My dictionaries and spell-checkers do not list "slutty" as a valid word. The closest word they list is "sluttish".
Our readers will think us complete morons if used the technically "correct" there!!!

Ross at Play

I have come across quite a few examples where references sources (especially regarding word usage) state something is incorrect. My reaction is: Bugger that! I will continue doing that in fiction because the incorrect use has become so common doing the "correct" thing sounds awful.
These are the examples I can think of.
Do others have more examples of things they consider "right" for fiction - despite them being technically incorrect.
***
'I' vs 'me'
CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"When you need the first-person singular, use it. It's not immodest to use it; it's superstitious not to."
***
I might try to rewrite a sentence to avoid an ungrammatical use of 'me'. If I could not, or that sounded worse, I would use 'me' on SoL in narratives (in dialogue it is ALWAYS what the character would say) because 'I' sounds so pretentious many readers would feel they were being "spoken down to".

'he' vs 'him'
CMOS (5.43) states about this:
"Strictly speaking, a pronoun serving as the complement of a be-verb or other linking verb should be in the nominative case {it was she who asked for a meeting}. In formal writing, some fastidious readers will consider the objective case to be incorrect in every instance. But in many sentences, the nominative pronoun sounds pedantic or eccentric to the modern ear {Was that he on the phone?}."
***
My view is 'I' vs 'me' is just as bloody 'pedantic or eccentric' to most people.

'like' vs 'as'
CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"The use of like as a conjunction (as in the old jingle "like a cigarette should") has long been a contentious issue. Purists insist that as must introduce a clause and like must always be a preposition coupled with a noun {cool like springwater}. The fall of that old rule has been predicted for five decades, but today like as a conjunction is still not standard. See also 5.181."
***
My view is that became 'standard' for most ordinary people decades ago.

'based on'
CMOS (5.220) states about this:
"This phrase has two legitimate and two illegitimate uses. It may unimpeachably have verbal force (base being a transitive verb, as in they based their position on military precedent) or, in a passive sense, adjectival force (based being read as a past-participial adjective, as in a sophisticated thriller based on a John le Carré novel). Two uses, however, are traditionally considered slipshod. Based on should not have adverbial force {rates are adjusted annually, based on the 91-day Treasury bill} or prepositional force (as a dangling participle) {based on this information, we decided to stay}. Try other constructions {rates are adjusted annually on the basis of the 91-day Treasury bill} {with this information, we decided to stay}."
***
My view is I'm not going to rewrite a perfectly understandable 10 word sentence with a 12 word sentence just to avoid irritating a few pedantic arseholes! In fact, I would consider irritating them an additional benefit of using a technically ungrammatical sentence.

I have seen quite a few examples of this type of thing. Dictionaries and style guides insist some type of usage is incorrect, but I consider them merely historical anomalies - because decades or centuries ago someone preparing a dictionary only recognised a word was used as an adjective, but since then people have found new ways to use the word that are perfectly understandable.
I simply DO NOT ACCEPT that when a dictionary lists a word as being ONLY an adjective that uses as other parts of speech are therefore incorrect.

Finally, one dear to all our hearts on SoL ...
My dictionaries and spell-checkers do not list "slutty" as a valid word. The closest word they list is "sluttish".
Our readers will think us complete morons if we did the technically "correct" thing with that!!!

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Our readers will think us complete morons if used the technically "correct" there!!!


now you know why I love using the vernacular and not the technically correct English.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

now you know why I love using the vernacular and not the technically correct English.

I have always AGREED with using the vernacular (in appropriate situations - meaning MOST).
***
Many here OFTEN misinterpret my reasons for questions about "technically correct English".
I have NEVER, EVER thought using technically correct English in fiction was desirable.
My view has always been it is best to KNOW what technically correct English is, SO THAT it is used MOST of the time, THUS on the occasions when an author chooses to do something different, readers will spot it is different and work out why the author did so.
***
An example is the use of contractions. My view (for many stories) is they should be used almost all the time, and full forms only used when the author wants the extra stress doing so can create. If the author is not consistently using the contractions, the times they use full forms loose their effectiveness.
I use exactly the same reasoning in thinking authors should use technically correct English almost all the time - so readers will notice when they don't.
***
In short - if you want to be a very good author, learn the rules so you and readers know what you're doing WHEN YOU BREAK THEM!

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

My view (for many stories) is they should be used almost all the time, and full forms only used when the author wants the extra stress doing so can create.


I agree totally on this. My previous comment was a little tongue in cheek to give one reason why I avoid the technically correct English, to avoid such things. I find vernacular also makes it a lot more free flowing to read a story. But that's my opinion.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

CMOS is a style manual, not a reference source.

AJ

samuelmichaels

@Ross at Play

Finally, one dear to all our hearts on SoL ...
My dictionaries and spell-checkers do not list "slutty" as a valid word. The closest word they list is "sluttish".

The Oxford English Dictionary has Slutty (adj), with citations going back to 1400. It does mark it as "Now dial.", meaning they don't think it's commonly used in formal context.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I purposely "misuse" the I/me (she/her, he/him) when it sounds better to my ear (rather than being too stuffy). Sometimes I get around it by adding a word after "I" as in:

"He was bigger than I." (sounds too stuffy)
so I might change it to:
"He was bigger than I was."

I mostly use "as" where required, but when "like" sounds better I'll use it.

How about lay/lie? Most people would say "He laid on the bed" when it should be "He lay on the bed." But after learning the rule, the incorrect form sounds wrong to my ear so I do it right even if many readers would think it wrong.

I don't know about "slutty," but a word used on SOL stories a lot is "pistoned" (e.g., "His dick pistoned in and out of her."). That's not a word.

REP
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


CMOS is a style manual, not a reference source.


You have to be joking!

A reference source is anything you look to for guidance.

That is the reason style manuals are created - to guide a writer in the proper style to be used in a publication that is to be submitted to a specific group.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

CMOS is a style manual, not a reference source.

No, the bloody thing is a guide on matters such as style, but a reference on things like grammar.
If you find any reference that contradicts anything I quote from it, I will listen and take your response seriously.
If you say everything in it should be ignored because in some aspects it is fascistic, you are being counterproductive and I'll ignore you.
I doubt you'll find anything I quoted from it in this thread that is contradicted as what is "technically correct" in anything you would call a real "reference source".
***
PLEASE, I'm trying to ask a serious question here of importance to authors of fiction: what are examples of when authors of fiction should ignore ALL of the references out there.

Ross at Play

@REP

Someone else:
CMOS is a style manual, not a reference source.
Your:
You have to be joking!
A reference source is anything you look to for guidance.
That is the reason style manuals are created - to guide a writer in the proper style to be used in a publication that is to be submitted to a specific group.

Thanks, REP.
I asked over and over on these forums: If you despise CMOS so much (albeit, for legitimate reasons) what other reference books do you suggest?
Nobody ever responded. My conclusion was for many here, their ego's are so linked to asserting, "I do not need style guides," they were unwilling to even mention the name of any alternative -- for NEW writers who DO NEED something they can look up so they can learn what they need to know.

Ross at Play

@samuelmichaels

Thanks. I only bought a 1,000+ page version for my Oxford Dictionary.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

CMOS is a style manual, not a reference source.


I think you mean it's not a universal English Grammar reference source for fiction writing.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

No, the bloody thing is a guide on matters such as style, but a reference on things like grammar.


Absolutely. Most of what's in there is how to do grammar correctly, like you'd find in a grammar textbook.

When there's not a black-and-white answer, such as the serial comma or whether you write "eighteen-year-old" or "18-year-old" or is an ellipsis "..." or " . . . ", they choose one and everyone following that style guide does it that way.

But most of what they have is basic grammar rules that everyone should follow.

StarFleetCarl

While I agree that grammar is important in writing, I disagree with the idea that it be used properly in all situations. If you as the author are setting a scene in describing a situation or event, sure. But when writing conversations, well, the actors and their vernacular are more important.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

No, the bloody thing is a guide on matters such as style, but a reference on things like grammar.


It may have bloated its mission to that pretension but from examples posted to the forum, it certainly doesn't cover English English.

I've used other style guides in the past. For example, while working at a web development company, the house style was based on the style guide from an esteemed British periodical. It was very formal and badly out-of-date but okay for writing web page instructions.

When I want to know about grammar or punctuation, I refer to books on the subject, not style guides.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ross at Play


An example is the use of contractions. My view (for many stories) is they should be used almost all the time, and full forms only used when the author wants the extra stress doing so can create. If the author is not consistently using the contractions, the times they use full forms loose their effectiveness.

I use exactly the same reasoning in thinking authors should use technically correct English almost all the time - so readers will notice when they don't.


Once upon a time, the narrative typically wouldn't include contractions while dialogues would, because most readers (i.e. most 'educated white readers') were used to hearing news read that way on radio and television, their main source of news.

However, nowadays even most 3rd person omni stories, told from the perspective of God himself, use the vernacular. Again, you need to decide who your narrator is, and what they should sound like, before writing your story so the narration is consistent throughout the story.

@Switch

I don't know about "slutty," but a word used on SOL stories a lot is "pistoned" (e.g., "His dick pistoned in and out of her."). That's not a word.

Most words get 'bastardized' to add a verb form. The practice is so widespread, it's almost become the norm, so it's not as unusual to use such words as it once was. In short, if a majority of the population uses a new form, it's the sticklers (i.e. the dictionary folk) who are behind the times in adding the newer words to their lexicons.

As for the use of "pistoned", it's now treated more as a cultural icon, and is acceptable as a cliche, rather than as a word in and of itself.

@Rep

A reference source is anything you look to for guidance.

That is the reason style manuals are created - to guide a writer in the proper style to be used in a publication that is to be submitted to a specific group.


As you can tell from the many discussion on this forum, there are two sides to this argument.

From Awnlee's side, a single style guide doesn't restrict any author who's not required to adhere to that style guide, so it isn't a reference. But for many of us, we go with the 'common usage' rule, meaning we'll adopt whichever usage is generally accepted, whether it's from a particular style guide or not, so in that case, the usage itself is a reference source, while the style guide itself isn't.

However, that produces a slippery slope, as authors tend to slide from one usage to another without realizing it following the 'general usage' guideline, so for most authors, it's better to simply pick a single style guide and stick to it, so they'll always be consistent (or just write their own style guide, which they can then loan to their readers). :)

@StarFleetCarl

While I agree that grammar is important in writing, I disagree with the idea that it be used properly in all situations. If you as the author are setting a scene in describing a situation or event, sure. But when writing conversations, well, the actors and their vernacular are more important.


There isn't a separate 'vernacular' version of punctuation. However, you can often vary minor aspects of grammar (say where to place commas) to improve the flow of writing to make it sound less formal, or to convey other information (like pauses in dialogue), but the basic rules of grammar don't change. Thus the grammar rules remain.

@Awnlee Jawking

When I want to know about grammar or punctuation, I refer to books on the subject, not style guides.


Unfortunately, when you research grammar rules (like with Grammar Girl), they'll often reference one style guide or another, so it's difficult to remove the grammar rules from the discussion, so most authors end up using them as references, even if they don't follow them themselves.

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
REP

@Crumbly Writer

From Awnlee's side, a single style guide doesn't restrict any author who's not required to adhere to that style guide, so it isn't a reference.


Reference sources, such as style guides, are used for guidance. The author is not required to comply with or adhere to the guidance a style guide offers for the style guide to be a reference source. Regardless of whether the guidance meets his needs or not, if the author seeks guidance in a style guide, then the author is using the style guide as a reference source.

But for many of us, we go with the 'common usage' rule, meaning we'll adopt whichever usage is generally accepted, whether it's from a particular style guide or not, so in that case, the usage itself is a reference source, while the style guide itself isn't.


I would agree that looking to common usage for guidance makes common usage a reference source. If the usage was derived from a style guide and the author looks to usage for guidance, then I agree the style guide is not the reference source.

A style guide is only a reference source if the author refers to it for guidance.

Ross at Play

@StarFleetCarl

But when writing conversations, well, the actors and their vernacular are more important.

Hello. I do not recall seeing your name on posts here (often).
YES, you are absolutely correct about conversations being different to narratives.
***
You WILL find universal agreement here that dialogue has NO RULES, EVER!
It should always be written in the way that sounds natural for your character, in your story, in the situation they are now in.
***
For narratives WILL ALSO find universal agreement here that adherence to any "Style Guide" by an author of fiction is disastrous.
ALL of the guides are written to satisfy the needs of academic and various types of technical writers, and are quite unsuitable for fiction.
The sad thing is nobody here knows of any suitable style guide that is written for authors of fiction.
Thus, the majority of disagreements here are about how far fiction authors should go in disregarding the fascistic dictates contained in all the style guides - but not whether many of their dictates should be disregarded.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

When I want to know about grammar or punctuation, I refer to books on the subject

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... PRETTY PLEASE.
I have asked repeatedly here for the titles of books I can use as references for grammar and punctuation.
Please tell us the titles of the books you use.
The ONLY REASON I use CMOS is I cannot find anything better. I DESPISE IT. It really is the second most appallingly written and structured book I have ever encountered [The worst being Elements of Style by the original culprit, Struik).
I am not a moron. I KNOW that nothing is going to be truly suitable for authors of fiction. I KNOW good authors MUST make artistic choices to disregard their style guide on occasions. I can cope with that. My desire has always been: Know the rules so that you understand what you are doing WHEN you break them (not if you break them).
My main problem with CMOS is that it is written and structured in a way that makes it EXTREMELY difficult to find, and then comprehend, what it says when you attempt to look up a particular point. It really is almost impossible to find the answer to one question unless you already have a very detailed knowledge of almost everything else it contains.
***
SO, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... PRETTY PLEASE.
Please tell me the names of any references you know of books on grammar and punctuation - written in a way that someone who has already needed to learn those in detail to complete university level studies.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

a single style guide doesn't restrict any author who's not required to adhere to that style guide, so it isn't a reference.

NONSENSE!
It is a reference if an author 'refers' to it to find an acceptable way of doing something.
It is an ill-advised use of any reference (I know of) if an author of fiction considers they are "required" to do what it states.
I am almost certain I have NEVER seen ANYBODY here state an opinion that authors on SoL should not at times disregard rules, guidelines, or whatever in any published guide or manual.

Ross at Play

@StarFleetCarl

CrumblyWriter made this response to you

There isn't a separate 'vernacular' version of punctuation. However, you can often vary minor aspects of grammar (say where to place commas) to improve the flow of writing to make it sound less formal, or to convey other information (like pauses in dialogue), but the basic rules of grammar don't change. Thus the grammar rules remain.

I second everything CW said, but would add this:
Don't ever think you are obliged to follow any rules of grammar or punctuation!
You are an artist, not an employee. You are entitled to disregard any rules to achieve your artistic vision.
However, knowing the rules so you know what you are doing when you break them is the general approach I recommend.

samuelmichaels
Updated:

@Ross at Play


SO, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... PRETTY PLEASE.

Please tell me the names of any references you know of books on grammar and punctuation - written in a way that someone who has already needed to learn those in detail to complete university level studies.


I really like Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style - The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. It's not exactly a reference, but it covers many matters of style that have been discussed in these forums.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@samuelmichaels

Thanks.
Just started a test to see just how friendly the big bookstore chain in Singapore is. :-)

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