Confession

Forgive me father for I have sinned.

After a long break I re-visited someone’s relatively new blog.

I have been following his first blog, now more neglected, he opened this one at some point and I have completely (are there three or four syllables here?) forgot to register. It is still a pleasure to get lost in his, apparently meandruos, line of thought.

The following has startled me and made me realise how far I still am from writing in English in such a way that my texts would not scratch the trained eardrums of the literati; as if they would ever stumble upon my humble abode:

I have two rules for writing: never, ever, under any circumstances use a passive verb; and never, ever, under any circumstances use the expletive constructions “there is,” “there are,” “it is,” “it was,” and so on. I have my students, as the last step in editing their own writing, do a word search for “there” and simply delete it and rewrite the sentence without it. Getting them to recognize passive verbs is like shoveling sand at the seashore.

My favorite passive construction, by the way, is one that more politicians than you can shake a stick at have used, “Mistakes were made.” The ultimate wiggle-room statement. Who made the mistakes? Obviously not me. Some unknown, unnameable force. They were made. By aliens. Not by anyone in MY office!

So here lies my sins and they are all over the place in my texts.

There is a time where one has to accept that a leopard cannot change it’s spots. Mistakes will never stop being made.

It does not mean that I should stop trying though, innit?

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One Response to Confession

  1. Camix says:

    three syllables. 🙂

    innit sounds so fresh, never heard it before!
    And, you see, we are taught (again! i know) that passive is very official and we teach students to use it in highly official contexts. Now you know why politicians… And why language students will not be good writers. 🙂

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