Today’s post is sparked by a look-through in the search words that lead visitors to our blog. For the list of renowned writers in the Bicol Region, follow the link at the end of this post.
Is what you say or write definitely right?
Sir Francis Bacon wrote in his essay, Of Studies that “writing maketh an exact man”.
Perhaps, this is one of the most often quoted phrases of all time, and for English Majors, this quickly translates for us, the necessity of correct grammar and diction in every written material—indicating thereby that what we write defines us.
In formal writing, we have grammar and diction as fundamental considerations in pulling together coherent and meaningful expressions of ourselves. In linguistics, we describe grammar as a system of rules and principles in speaking and writing a language with regards to the internal structure of words (morphology), the use of words in the construction of phrases and sentences (syntax), and the relationship between words, phrases or any other allowable constraint and their actual meaning (semantics), and diction, as the choice of words especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness of their application to the idea or situation.
Of Malapropisms and Improprieties
A well-respected professor in the Study of Critical and Thinking Skills* back at the university when we were still freshmen students often would tell us how it is a grave sin for an English major to be constantly speaking and writing with incorrect grammar and diction. Learning so much from her ways, I have somehow acquired a certain trait of hers: incorrect grammar and diction sores my eyes and rubs my ears whenever I read or hear them.
But then I have my own flaws as a writer and from where I began with my studies of correct English, grammar was not much of a problem, but diction somehow was. Learning poetry before all other forms of literary works, I have entreated poetic license to excuse myself from being kept within the constraints of structure and the norms through which language is deemed correct, and with much aid out of knowing and understanding literary devices and techniques as well as the methods and approaches of critical study and appreciation, I am able to justify my every ink’s spilling of words with utter freedom.
When I was in high school, I discovered one flaw in my earliest works: an unconscious substitution of words in sentences which definitely was not a legitimate or valid application of any known literary device or technique, but seemed correct by the sounds of it as they were written or spoken.
This error is quite common and can pass by almost unnoticed for people whose eyes or ears have not trained much in the rigors of language or are not that exposed in an environment where the language is constantly being used. Being engaged seriously in the studies of language through our courses in the university and in my own private ramblings in the library and over the web, I was able to get past this error and learn not to abuse the verities of poetic license.
The RENOUNCED writers of Bicol region
This morning, as I looked through the search words of our visitors, I am well reminded of this language learning experience. The live traffic feed listed this as one of the most recent updates:
Despite that I have been involved with SEO works for the past two years, I have always posted randomly on this blog and have not cared much about my page rank or keyword optimization. However, it awakened my senses at reading the phrase, “renounced writers”.
Wikipedia provides the following insight about this kind of word misuse:
A type of solecism, the mistaken substitution of one word for another that sounds similar, generally with humorous effect, as in “arduous romance” for “ardent romance.” The term is named for the character, Mrs. Malaprop, in Richard Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, who made frequent misapplications of words….
Looking it up on Google, we find the following:
Verb: re·nounced, re·nounc·ing, re·nounc·es. v.tr. 1. To give up (a title, for example), especially by formal announcement. See Synonyms at relinquish. …
The more appropriate word would have been:
Adjective: Known or talked about by many people; famous.
Just imagine if your name is listed as a renounced writer in this blog! You will probably feel sad. But then, with understanding of the mechanics of language, you can just laugh your heart out.
This is not to make fun of our guest or to pass insult to those who are committing malapropisms–I used to and I might be committing the same error at being in haste to finish this post….
The thing is, because the search phrase,“writers of the bicol region”, is a related phrase for “Bicol writer”, a popular post label, our guest arrived sometime around 13 hours and 25 mins ago….as with most occurrences of malapropism–with just one word mistaken in a phrase or sentence–it is a readily identifiable linguistic problem, but somehow, it can get your point across without getting apprehended by a traffic enforcer or getting ticketed for the trouble. Nifty little tricky thing.
This is a call to be concerned, about how we deliver our thoughts to others, and to keep ourselves in check that we are saying things the right way. It is also a response to the need to be concerned about others. Let us take the initiative to learn so that we may stand corrected–that is, in the use of our languages in aspects of grammar and diction in particular, and in our ways of life in general.