Bad Grammar

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Bad Grammar

Postby Major Eyeswater » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:28 am

I've been a TP fan for years and find that his writing style suits my weird sense of humour, however, I have one major gripe..

In many books, I have seen the use of the word 'of' where it should say 'have', and it drives me crazy that such an erudite person should make such an elemental mistake.

E.g. - He should of said - I could of done it better - We should of gone that way. We all use such shortcuts in speech - would've for would have, should've for should have, could've for could have etc, but surely the 've bit gives a clue as to what's missing, doesn't it?

I used to think that it could be an inept proof-reader but I've just finished 'Good Omens' co-written with Neil Gaiman, but it too is so full of such errors that I'm still not sure!

I know it may be a really minor point to many, but it spoils my enjoyment of otherwise superb reading matter. I expect to find perfect spelling in a book released for sale and I see this as a creeping malaise. I hope we're not following the Americans yet again, and will soon see an of/have debate in the same way as we see some of the more stupid yanks having a Nuclear/Nucular debate.

As an add-on, I was watching TV last night when I actually heard a cop in a reality TV show say "He shouldn't of done it". The of was plainly annunciated and there was no attempt to say shouldn't have.

Please tell me that someone else has noticed it too.
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:43 am

Hi Major. :P

Can you give me a page number from Good Omens where "of" is used instead of "have" in non-dialogue? :?
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Postby meerkat » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:48 am

I am following this with interest!
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Postby pip » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:53 am

Curious . Should of noticed this :wink:
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:15 am

You would of noticed it if you hadn't of been so Pip-ish. :D
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Postby pip » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:21 am

Wot you talking bout Guvnar
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Postby Beautiful Dirt » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:23 am

Whilst I can see why this would get on your nerves I can't say I've paid much heed to it. Sometimes when reading TP and other books I've thought to myself that doesn't sound right and mentally read through it again but then I just dismiss it and carry on. I would say my English & grammar is competent but far from perfect, however sometimes in a book the odd imperfection adds to its charm. Or as the case seems to be here, completely missed and absorbed by the majority of us...including Pooh? :shock:

Correct spelling and vocabulary seems to have been condensed down in today's society, which is sad and completely to blame for the horror of 'text speak' (a bewildering language that I can't even understand) but authors can be a little too clever or stupid; depending on what they do which leads me to a question, possibly for Pooh.

I read a book a long time ago, in which the author used quotation marks for all of the dialogue in the book. This really got on my nerves because it cluttered the pages and I always thought speech marks appropriate for dialogue and quotation marks for when a character is quoting something. Are the two interchangeable?
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:45 am

If it does occur, I would imagine it's the kids talking. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:06 am

Welcome to the site, Major Eyeswater! :D

If it's used in dialogue then I don't have a problem with it. People (as you pointed out) speak that way.

I can't say that I noticed it otherwise. I did notice that, on a few occasions, the word 'ordinance' was used instead of 'ordnance' when referring to maps in Good Omens. That kind of bugged me, but it's a common mistake that people make. :)
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Postby raisindot » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:31 pm

Welcome, Major, and thank for your interesting theory that we Americans are responsible for the "of/have' of other word use issues and the decline in proofreading standards in books. As far as I know, PTerry never consulted with G.W. Bush or any of us "stupid Americans' when writing any of his books. Then again, his publisher is Harper Collins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is responsible for some of the worst English-language writing published in the world today.


:)
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Postby Major Eyeswater » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:41 pm

poohcarrot wrote:Can you give me a page number from Good Omens where "of" is used instead of "have" in non-dialogue? :?

The non-dialogue qualifier is really irrelevant. Yes I can see where you're coming from, but this has happened with so many characters that I simply can't believe they're all semi-literate, especially since it's been appearing in Discworld books for years, too. As it's an interesting theoretical point though, I'll start doing a little back-reading to see if I can find any such instances, but it may take a few days.

Tonyblack wrote:People (as you pointed out) speak that way.
But that's just my point - they don't (apart from a stupid copper). We all say should've or would've, but isn't it obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary education that it means should have or would have?

When it's written down 'David said that Alan should of backed him up...' is just plain ridiculous, isn't it? When we were young kids we weren't taught to use shortened versions initially. We were taught to write 'should have' and 'would have'. Should've and would've came much later, when we'd achieved some level of proficiency - and I can't accept that it's a product of a text-based society, like axed instead of asked.

I hate doing this 'cos I love TP's books. I just want to know who's responsible for letting this happen, and for so long.
Last edited by Major Eyeswater on Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby pip » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:42 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Welcome to the site, Major Eyeswater! :D

If it's used in dialogue then I don't have a problem with it. People (as you pointed out) speak that way.

I can't say that I noticed it otherwise. I did notice that, on a few occasions, the word 'ordinance' was used instead of 'ordnance' when referring to maps in Good Omens. That kind of bugged me, but it's a common mistake that people make. :)


As i said before i used to work in the Ordnance Survey and myself and othes there made that mistake regularly . Think i've learned now :D
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Postby Major Eyeswater » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:45 pm

pip wrote: As i said before i used to work in the Ordnance Survey and myself and others there made that mistake regularly . Think i've learned now :D
The odd spelling mistake I can deal with :D . I spent a while editing a magazine and know how easy it s to let one through, but after four or five books where an error appears so frequently, surely someone would have :) picked up on it.
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Postby Beautiful Dirt » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:49 pm

With respect, don't you think that if all books were written in the Queen's English - particularly dialogue - the scope of them would be quite uniform and bland?

I agree narratives should be well vetted, but the speech of any region or country across the world is different and all the more interesting for it.

In Discworld I particularly like Granny's turn of phrase, as strange as I find it sometimes.
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Postby Major Eyeswater » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:13 pm

Beautiful Dirt wrote:With respect, don't you think that if all books were written in the Queen's English - particularly dialogue - the scope of them would be quite uniform and bland?

Dialogue, certainly, but only dialogue. If you can't expect a book which has probably gone through several drafts and extensive proof-reading to be at least spelled correctly ('cos that's all this is really, a series of bad spelling mistakes), what's the point in teaching anybody how to spell at all? What's next, mis-spelled headlines - "Your being ripped off by the oil companies" instead of "You're being ripped of by the oil companies"? This mis-spelling is probably the most common of all, but would you want to see it in 250pt on the front page of a newspaper? If it doesn't bother you, then I'm wasting my time in asking the basic question of this thread.

Beautiful Dirt wrote:In Discworld I particularly like Granny's turn of phrase, as strange as I find it sometimes.
I agree wholeheartedly, but that too is dialogue, not prose. Try deciphering Agnes Nutter's scribblings in Good Omens :P .
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