Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, the things I struggle with late at night.

I do not use spell check when I'm writing. I have nothing against checking my spelling, it's just that I spell right about 85% of the time and I feel pretty satisfied with that in a working draft. There's no point officially checking the spelling until it's done. If I could have a plot-checker that identifies holes in plotlines, I would use that all the time, but spelling isn't of huge concern. That's why I occasionally have a day (apparently when I'm feeling especially sharp) when I catch instances in which I've decided to just make up a whole new inflection for a word. Instances that I have overlooked for quite a while. It is usually things like using "symbolical" for "symbolic" or "regrettingly" for "regretfully." These may be marginally correct in some outdated usage or among those with poor linguistic taste, but I think we can agree that for normal purposes they are WRONG.

Today I discovered "stupidness" for "stupidity." Used in a sentence: She refuses to use spell check out of sheer stupidness. Actually, scratch that, because according to Merriam-Webster "stupidness" is perfectly  acceptable. I'd like to change my sample sentence to: Merriam-Webster is full of stupidness. Why would you use "stupidness" when you could use "stupidity"? For one thing, if you pluralize "stupidness," you get "stupidnesses," which is . . . stupid. "Stupidities" is far superior. On the other hand, this could be like that time I ran across a usage of "overly" that made me think it was a totally unnecessary word that should never be used -- and then for the next three days I kept thinking of circumstances under which no other word would do. So, I guess it's a good thing I'm not in charge of the dictionary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, dictionaries might be improved if you were to edit them. There are so many possibilities that the stodgy editors seem to ignore.