Banning ‘Experience’: Words That Annoy
I’ve finally become my parents; they were sticklers for grammatical exactitude. I knew it would happen, but I think it’s largely because I read so much. Books, posters – this poster.
As noted in the previous post, there’s a Sherlock Holmes ‘experience’ currently at Madame Tussauds. It’s a word routinely added to any activity which involves more than one of the senses, like the ‘Imax experience’. But is it an experience if you just see and hear something without taking part or being changed? If you go through something completely preplanned as an observer, can you be said to have experienced it at all? Or is it simply overused because we value the purchasing of experiences over material things now, items with which we can fill our bucket lists?
While we’re on the subject of overselling, can we have a moratorium on ‘legendary’ for a while, especially in Hollywood trailers? Very few things are legendary, especially not a few CGI films from deliverers of summer popcorn movies.
‘Muslims are fed up of blame’ says the Independent. Shouldn’t that be ‘with blame’? Even if it’s not wrong, it looks and sounds awkward.
And the passive voiceÂ in writing, while we’re on it, Â seems to be everywhere. As it was just then. In other (better) words, more people are using Â the passive voice. Why are we reducing our own authority? That’s probably down to internet etiquette, where (polite people that we are) we try to soften demands because they look rather cold in print, and we often add a ! for extra friendliness. In fact, enough with the exclamation marks!!!
Don’t get me started on dangling participles, either. ‘Wishing I could paint, the bright colours seemed incomprehensible to me.’ From a book I was reading. It got thrown across the room. Agh.
Everywhere you look there’s peculiar grammar. Not in SF magazines, though, where the ever-extraordinary Nick Lowe gives us; ‘rescuing Hollywood plotting from the sclerotic orthodoxies of protagonistic solipsism opening out the narrative canvas into deep megatextual expanses’. There’s such a thing as too clever.
Which (I know, never start a sentence this way) is why I have trouble with so many short story collections. To jump into a series of short tales you need to climb out and get back in every time, so it’s quite nice when an author allows you to acclimatise via the steps as opposed to diving from into the deep end. Try forgotten suspense writer Charlotte Armstrong if you like being hooked from the first line. Exclamation mark.