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people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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random grammar moment
children of dune - leto 1
Question due to grammar and spelling discussion going on in another comm.

Can you acquire certain misspellings by exposure to them constantly? See, I have several now that I know for a fact came up *really* recently, as in spellcheck didn't autocorrect me, which slowly but surely I'm getting my more common added in. Here are the two main ones I remember right now. I don't mean typs--I mean, just weird *habit*.

1.) lose/loose
2.) past/passed

Okay, I've only caught myself on the first one once, but the second, I've had to correct it *semi-regularly* not at random in my last four fic.

I know my grammar gets screwed by what I read. Not always to the wrong side, though that too, but to the awkward side in phrasing something Like this:

He had never seen such a large penis.

He never had seen such a large penis.

The second one bothers me, the first one doesn't. I am going to sit here and examine why the second bothers me, if you don't mind.

Wait, I'm not actually sure--is one of these grammatically incorrect? The second just sounds wrong, but I'm not sure it's technically or even loosely incorrect.

It's that I feel strongly that when putting 'never' in front of 'had', it should create an emphasis that the sentence isn't carrying through. Basically, it's teasing me. I also hate the word penis, but that's because I'm pretty sure it's supposed to refer to a toe and somewhere in our past, someone messed up.

But that's *irritating*. It also throws off rhythm badly, which is why I've held a finished fic for weeks because I couldn't track down where I lost the rhythm. Yes, this is probably only something I'd notice, too, but I do. There's a long story that everyone probably has heard me tell here about sentence rhythm and how sometimes I get it right the first time (better than drugs) and sometimes I spend a month rewriting ten words (please don't ask) and sometimes it doesn't matter, but sometimes, I can't get passed* past it.

While you're here, if so inclined, tell me your favorite lines from fic. The ones that stick with you. I keep a very old copy of my favorites here (originally posted to diaryland). I swear in 2002-2003 I did another one of favorite lines. I may have to look that up.

*see what I mean? I know it's a time/space issue, but it just goes out and if I don't re-read after spellcheck, I do this. I feel like I should invest in sleep learning.

but sometimes, I can't get passed it.

Er, was that on purpose?

*G* Nope. That's what I've been doing for at least four to six months now. And am correcting it now.

You see why I find this freaky.

I can't get passed it.

...can't get past it? *g* I can see what you mean.

I definitely never had problems with my their/there/they're until I started seeing all the mistakes. And then I'd start catching myself making it--which drove me completely crazy, grr.

*grins* Yes, exactly! There should be Grammar for Fangirls Refersher to recondition us to the English language again.

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I found that my typed grammar took a marked downturn when I started RPing basically full-time in 2004. I'm trying to get back to where I need to be, but I think because I was a mod and was trying (unsuccessfully) to read most threads (which were unmoderated for grammar and often atrocious), I started to osmose crap syntax and spelling. HORRORS.

Hm. Favorite lines.

I think I need to think on this. I often think, 'Oh, that's lovely' while reading and then forget entirely five minutes later. :D

*nods* It's like netspeak as well. That creeps up on me too, and then I realize I'm using it earnestly and just lose the will to live.

*looks furtive*  it's/its

Only started happening in the last year or so, swear to god. It's so very frustrating, you know?

>_> Typs.

Yes, totally. I exchange "know" for "now" at a nearly 50% ratio. It's absolutely ridiculous.

As to your two sentences, this is my opinion and not fact:

He had never seen such a large penis. = Straightforward, deliberately informs the reader that our He has never seen such a large penis, and it is worth noting deliberately most likely due to said largeness.

He never had seen such a large penis. = Has two different potential emphases. This throws off rhythm and disrupts the thought pattern of many readers as they try to decide which emphasis the author intended. Perhaps it is "He never had seen such a large penis," which illustrates that He felt some relished anticipation for laying eyes on the penis, and perhaps sought out the opportunity -- if only subconsciously. Or maybe the intention was "He never had seen such a large penis," which depicts a startling moment of "holy crap that penis is GODZILLADICK."

In either case, the art of using "never" in this manner is typically set aside for wording intended to sound slightly more sophisticated, uppity, or antiquated.

That said, I have a waffle cone. The end.

This throws off rhythm and disrupts the thought pattern of many readers as they try to decide which emphasis the author intended.

*nods* It doesn't trip over the tongue as it should. Which is rather ironic given the subject matter.

Past/passed getting mixed up drives me crazy, I think because it's not the same kind of word, i.e. one is a verb (or sometimes half of a verb), the other an adjective (or a noun but that's usually not getting mixed up in this) so it really disrupts me parsing a sentence quickly while reading. They are just different, and they look quite different too.

I sometimes mix up loose and lose despite knowing the difference, not just because they look so similar, but in an unfair twist of closely related languages the German translation of the English adjective "loose" is actually "lose" (though it is pronounced differently than the English "lose") which doesn't exactly help with memorizing them correctly.

But I suffer from this too, like to my dismay I have noticed that the widespread mix-ups of you're/your and their/there/they're has had a negative impact on me typing these correctly, even though I'm not at all confused about their different functions.

Past/passed--that's the thing. I don't know *why* that error is showing up because I know the usage, it just--does.

I live in terror of the your/you're showing up. That's so easy to miss during editing.

I think the lay vs. lie thing must be catching. More people seem to get it wrong than get it right. Plurals with an 's. Also woah instead of whoa, although that one is so common I'm beginning to wonder if it's made it into a dictionary somewhere.

A couple of favourite lines:

"And Fraser said, 'Ray', and he was." from resonant8's Broadway Hotel (DS)

"Five and a half years of loving someone, of being loved, as much as you can love in the city on the edge of forever, which is sometimes too much and sometimes not enough at all. They'd both known how it could end at the very beginning, and Rodney had made his choices and let everything change him without once looking back." from synecdochic's Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose (SGA)

Lie/lay/laid drives me nuts at the best of times. I know it, but it's something I have to go back and correct every time. HATE.

Ooh, nice lines!

What kills me is that the people writing He never had seen such a large penis probably changed it from the more natural He had never seen such a large penis while editing. Assuming that the writer is a native speaker, that is. Some people have gotten the idea that you're not supposed to split verbs in any way and will move adverbs to all types of crazy places to avoid it.

They refuse to boldly split infinitives where no grammarian has gone before? *g*

That second sentence reads wrong to me, too. It's not technically incorrect, I don't think, but it doesn't flow smoothly.

Yes, exactly. Saying it out loud is even worse--I keep looking for a place to put emphasis.

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You know, adding "my gracious" there is possibly the only way the construction wouldn't feel completely wrong. Or "bless his heart", maybe.

Favorite line from "Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose": Every year, a few more flowers bloom.

Kills me dead as soon as I read it. Every. Damn. Time. *stifles tear*

As for the grammar thing, I don't know why, but I've got this TERRIBLE there/they're/their problem. I know I know the difference between them, but when I set fingers to keyboard to write fic the wrong ones always comes out and stay there till my betas point and laugh at them. I'm sure I didn't have this problem before I started writing fanfic.

Good line!

I think internetz destroy souls.

And I even typed that without an artcile and with a z without irony. Oh my.

Just to throw in another option, "Never had he seen such a large penis" is another way to say it.

RE: "He never had seen such a large penis" is probably considered colloquial. To me it implies (maybe unintentionally) that he thought that maybe he had, or should have, seen one that large, but decided he had not.

This really cracks me up. I can't type with a straight face.

I think the way many of us get spelling/grammar/usage to an automatic level is through repetition, even though we may also need to understand the rules, as well. It takes many more repetitions to replace original learning. If that begins to occur, there is a transitional period where the individual wavers back and forth, and has to go back to the rules in order to verify the choice.

For instance, those of us who have tried to replace regional speech with standard language, may always have to stop sometimes and think about usage and standard grammar.

In this case, you can probably get back to using the correct forms without too much work.

You also might consider whether this is just a typing aberration. If you are an accomplished typist (at word level, or sentence level, as my teacher referred to it) you are just typing faster than you can make those decisions. If that is the case, I believe it is more important to get the ideas down than to edit as you write.

Personally, I've lost the ability to spell, and I don't think it's coming back. But that's another story.

I've certainly enjoyed thinking about this. Thanks for posting. Especially about the large penis. I usually have to read my spam for that. :)


The second sentence is how we'd naturally say it in my native neck of the woods. Which is rural, but most emphatically not the south.

There are many, many fics that look lovely, but I cannot read because of the grammar.

Can I add a couple?
flair/flare (I saw this in the paper yesterday. sigh)

Plus, countless grammatical errors...

I blame my Mama, who started me proofreading when I was 8, and my grandma Sara, who taught English in a one-room schoolhouse. So I guess I come by it naturally.