This is Emblematic of Contemporary Writing/Speech

One of the problems I see and hear in the speech and writing of contemporary native (ab)users of English is a baffling lack of an ability to grasp simple tenses. Example: Writing about an event in the past of a character,

“If he knew, he probably would think twice.”


No, “If he had known, he probably would have thought twice.”

OK, even that construction is a wee tad stupid as a statement, but at least it would have properly reflected the circumstances the writer attempted to convey. (Better: “In hindsight. . . ” but the writer’s vocabulary didn’t seem to stretch that far, if other text is any indication.)

Sometimes, Even Subliterate Writers Can Be Entertaining. . . Though By Accident

Sometimes, text written by a subliterate writer can lead to fun stuff. A silly, 20-something self-pub subliterate writer (whose “editorial” helpers are no more literate than he is) provided such a brief moment, before I ashcanned his stupid book.

“. . .tells me that a newly discovered landmark was uncovered by the storm and that the ruin is not in any kind of withered [sic] state.”

Oh, my. The subliterate writer was probably groping for “weathered,” but since

a. his ears are apparently dull and
b. he just flat-out doesn’t know the differences between “wither” and “weather,”

. . .he went with a near homophone that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

But. . . then I paused and thought of the different meanings of wither, and their etymologies. (Yes, because I spent much of my youth reading dictionaries–and still do to this day, for that matter–and have a wide range of interests in disparate fields, I knew that the noun “wither” and the verb “wither” came from two very different roots. *shrugs* So? 🙂 ) So I had a bit of personal entertainment contemplating a horse’s withers and the withering of a plant.

And then, back to the Badly Written Text to a further description of the “ruin”:

“In fact, it doesn’t look “ruined” at all! It appears to be in perfect condition!”

*head-desk* Then why, oh why, did the “eminent archaeologist” initially refer to it as a “ruin”?

Because the writer had no appropriate vocabulary to describe it else, of course.

Well, this lil incident combined with four others in the two pages since I picked the book back up to convince me I needed to delete it from my library entirely, so as not to even accidentally pick it back up.

Oh, well. At least I managed to get all the way to 4% of the thing this time. . .

More Literacy Annoyances

Sadly, while I have seen this issue in many self-pub books written and “edited” by subliterates, this is becoming much more common in books from tradpub houses, as well.

ONLY, and I do mean ONLY, in the case where a subjective pronoun is used in a predicate nominative renaming of the subject is using a subjective pronoun in an otherwise objective position proper. The definitive example is: “I am he,” from which it follows that “You are she,” etc., are proper.

unfortunately, all too many subliterate “writers” (and yes, speakers) insist on thinking that ALL (or most–some are amazingly inconsistent) personal pronouns in objective case position) within a predicate are subjective case, based on this one exception (where the initial subject is used, as previously noted, to simply rename the subject they simply misuse a subjective case pronoun, viz.,

“I am better than he.” [WRONG]
“I am faster than he.” [WRONG]


For some reason–possibly because they mistakenly think it sounds “classy” or some such–many subliterates cling to such uses. Of course, rarely are the examples as plain, as stark, as the ones I have given above. Most often, the predicate is complex, poorly-constructed, and amphibolous, as well, obscuring the objective case.

I find this annoying. OK, in dialog, as long as the writer is trying to establish the speaking character as either barely literate or illiterate, OK. Barely. But when it occurs in descriptive narrative, no matter how otherwise interesting the content–fiction, non-fiction–I am sorely tempted to trash the text and move on to* something else. Time is just too precious to spend it translating badly-written text.

Continue reading “More Literacy Annoyances”

Inigo Montoya Has a Better Vocabulary

As I was scanning an article that was arguing that Me$$y$oft’s unscrupulous Win10 “upgrade” shennanigans led to (actually the shennanigans contributed to, but why let clear distinctions get in the way of “journalism” *gagamaggot*) the WannaCry Ransomeware debacle, I read,

“violates the trust people hold in the sanctity of Windows Update”

Really? Windows update is a sacrament of some religion or some such? Prior to our post-literate society, “sanctity” was the quality of being sacred or holy. Now, I guess it means whatever the hell (and you can take it I’m speaking theologically here) some subliterate moron wants it to mean.

Faulty Pleasure

I’ve needed intermittent breaks from the flood cleanup, and so I selected an Indie-published space opera series to read for that purpose, forsaking all other reading–light, inconsequential, fun.

But fun marred by faulty execution. Oh, the plots are typical light space opera and the characters stalwart heroes and evil villains, etc. All Flash Gordon/Doc Smith Lensman (without the superman/superwoman aspect) type plots, etc. IOW, just good light fun.

Except. The writer bragged on his editor. That’s an almost sure sign that both the writer and his editor are not formally literate, and have a disconnect between their verbal fluency and subliteracy, evidenced in writer errors of grammar, punctuation, word misusage, and more that survive the “editing” process to publication.

And that’s a shame, because the books are otherwise quite enjoyable, light fare, something the writer stated he was aiming for.

Oh, well. It’s still better than discarding soaked boxes of books, ripping up and discarding carpeting, bleaching walls and floors, and more. And. . . all the errors actually provide a distraction of their own. *heh*

OK, one example of so very FREAKING many:

“A bright blaze of color shown from a split in the corpse’s suit.”

Shone (although “shined” would be preferable) or showed? Which did the writer intend with his misuse of “shown”? One can guess, but unless the writer (or at least his editor) improves his written vocabulary, one can only guess.


Which Is It?

Stuck on stupid, or “Dunning-Krugerite can’t get off a dime.”

“At the age of 12, Adam’s 40 year old mother left the family for her 20 year old ski instructor”

OK, was Adam’s mother 40 or 12 when she left the family?

File this under “Other reasons I am completely uninterested any the book from this writer,” along with “Stupid/Boring/Uninteresting Premise,” cretinous statements in the text (page 1–I got no further) like, “I held my gaze on the sun in amazement,” (and no, dram sequences don’t excuse such idiocies), and other such jejune, moronic, or even illiterate text.

Gee. One might think a _writer_ would at least try to put his best foot forward on the first page. Oh, wait. he probably did.


I Should No Longer Be Surprised

Reading a book, or a newspaper or magazine article that’s not chock full of usage, grammar, and punctuation errors is commonplace, nowadays, so I know I should not be surprised, nevertheless (and I cannot count the number of times I have seen that rendered “never the less” in recent years) I am still amazed daily by the subliteracy of published writers, especially those who are published by established media outlets and traditional publishing houses. Of course, that sublterate screeds are actually published warts and all also says any editors who had responsibility for the text are also subliterate.

As are, quite often, their readers.

Signs of Subliteracy

Here’s one. When folks either misuse a word entirely (“effect” for “affect” for but one of many examples) or spell words phonetically (or nearly), it’s a pretty good sign that their literacy skills are pretty thin.

For example, I saw “amuck” used by someone whose verbal vocabulary exceeds his literacy. The word he was groping for, of course, was “amok.” (It’s a fascinating word.) I’m willing to give folks credit for trying, but I’d really rather folks used words they actually KNOW (as a result of good literacy) than spout off with words they really don’t know at all.

Actually, I’d be more charitable had the fellow typed, “amuk,” since that’s an early 17th Century variant spelling. Both spellings derived, of course, from “amuco.”

Oh, and yes I do know that some contemporary folks are arguing for “amuck,” but that’s really just because they’re too lazy to learn how to spell and use words well.