“Irks Me” #3,642

More and more often of late I have seen constructions (in supposedly “professionally written/edited” text) like,

“I would have sung along, if I knew the words.”

“If I would have known the words, I would have sung along.”

Both are horribly wrong, and evidence of serious subliteracy*. Neither should see the light of day in literately edited text.


“I would have sung along, if I HAD KNOWN the words.”

If I HAD KNOWN the words, I would have sung along.”

Even worse are those illiterates who add to one or the other of those disgustingly egregious (for a writer who expects to be paid) assaults on the English language an attempt to gag a maggot by writing, “have sang.”


That is (nearly) all. . . for now.

*I define “subliteracy” as being the condition of being able to decode/encode those funny lil squiggles that comprise written language, while stubbornly maintaining a very, very poor understanding of what is written/what one writes. This condition is primarily due, I think, to a lazy a-literacy: refusing to take the time to become both fluent and literate by means of reading a great deal of well-written text.

I find that in every single case of subliteracy I have ever run across the person is a self-imposed victim of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome; they think they are literate, they “play” a literate on the Internet (and elsewhere, succeeding only in fooling other subliterates and seriously illiterate folk), and they have no interest whatsoever in improving their literacy. In fact, most are offended at being corrected, instead of taking the opportunity to learn from correction.

Note: in casual daybooks, journals, or emails, etc., not written for pay lapses in orthography are certainly excusable. But people who accept pay for wordsmithing should be corrected, and excoriated in the strongest language if they take offense at correction.

And THAT is all. . . for now. 😉

2 Replies to ““Irks Me” #3,642”

  1. I’m glad the only thing I get paid to write is software. My youngest son is just finishing his first novel. I haven’t seen it, but we have had many discussions about this very topic. I hope he’s taken them to heart and that the people he’s asking to edit it know what they’re doing.

    Considering the quality of much that I’ve read lately I fear that I’ll find that they don’t.

    1. If you’re one of his beta readers, Perri, he should be OK, whether he manages to find a professional editorial team that’s literate or not (given the quality of editing from established _traditional_ publishing houses nowadays, it may not be all that easy to find literate editorial folks, nowadays *sigh*).

      *sigh* Glancing back at what I wrote, I found yet another typo, illustrating why the writer of [just about anything] can rarely–if ever–competently edit his own text.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *