Say what you mean
February 17, 2007 Leave a comment
As someone who is quite particular about the words I write, I constantly make the assumption that anything written can and often will be published to more than the present/intended audience. For example, I try to punctuate and spell correctly when typing in IM, even though I use my fair share of chat abbreviations for speed. Others choose to strive for speed in chat and email, often leaving all words lower case and misspelling about half of the other words. So, what does all this babbling about “writing” have to do with anything other than personal preferences? Almost nothing, it’s all about style and old habits in many cases, and it really doesn’t matter. What is important is the content, and specifically, how well the message is delivered.
In a recent email exchange with Cote, I congratulated him on his usage of “has had” in a sentence. My simple amusement of this seemingly insignificant detail was derived from an encounter I once had with an English literature teacher in college, where I used this combination. After a lighthearted demonstration to her showing where several famous authors wrote this in their books, she caved, and I became one of her favorite students. After the story, Cote remarked that things get a lot easier once you start writing to say what you mean. (Put that one in the old memory banks, and use it often.) Granted, it’s unlikely any of us would tolerate complete gibberish, but I would take this a step further and pass a little caution onto those who admonish cliches and other society-driven terms. Unless the line clutters the meaning, why not throw it in?! Because, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, since he who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword.