It doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition, does it?? #loveliveswithgoodgrammar
Recently, a client was struggling with a portion of a tagline I had created for his company. He took issue with the phrase incomparable craftsmanship; he simply didn’t cotton to the adjective incomparable.
So I offered alternatives: Exceptional. Masterful. Consummate. Uncommon. High-caliber. Expert.
“How about quality?” he countered. “What do you think of quality craftsmanship?”
Well, he asked, so I was obliged to answer.
To be frank [but don’t call me Shirley], I’ve got a slight writer’s hangup with quality used on its own as an adjective.
Quality is primarily a noun, meaning a characteristic, property or attribute; alone, it says nothing about whether the characteristic, property or attribute is positive or negative. It just is.
Through common usage, quality has evolved into an adjective, used to connote high or good quality.
But when I read simply Quality craftsmanship – rather than High-quality craftsmanship or Top-quality craftsmanship – it feels purposely fudge-y to me, because quality can go either way.
The bottom line for me is, I believe it’s a weak word, where there are much stronger, clearer options available.
So, what are your thoughts on quality? Do you think it’s enough of a descriptor on its own?
I’m curious whether I’m on my own on this one!!
Happy 80th birthday to Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet, Mary Oliver!
She’s one of my favorite poets [what’s not to love about a woman who dedicates a whole collection to dogs?];
here’s what may be my favorite non-dog-oriented poem of hers:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
OK, so I’m not the Mistress of All Evil. I am a damn fine writer. But nobody’s perfect. #trudat
I recently discovered one of my grammatical pet peeves isn’t actually incorrect. This is the second time this has happened to me this year. It’s enough to make a writer-grrl question her own recollection of the AP Stylebook or Strunk + White’s Elements of Style.
Earlier this year, I saw till used as an abbreviation for until for the kazillionth time, & I grew so annoyed [till is what gardeners do to soil; ’til is a briefer version of until – fools!] that I researched it . . . & found till is a perfectly appropriate & acceptable abbreviation of until.
Cue Emily Litella: “Never mind.”
I tell you, folks, my writerly world was rocked. But hey, you learn something new every day, right?
So I was planning to preach a little grammar gospel about myriad. I see & hear it used frequently, most often as a noun, as in America has experienced a myriad of scary-ass shootings this summer. Which has been making me insane, because myriad is an adjective, not a noun [idiots! imbeciles!]; it should read America has experienced myriad scary-ass shootings this summer.
Right? Umm . . . no. Research reveals myriad may be used as either an adjective or a noun. Dang.
A helpful linguistic sidenote: Myriad is derived from the Greek term for ten thousand. So it’s probably not accurate to use it to describe the number of scary-ass shootings of the summer, but it’s OK to use it to describe the number of maniacs in a popular late-80’s band fronted by Natalie Merchant.
I know, right? Who knew? Well, now I do – and hey, you do, too!
& when we know better, we write better. You’re welcome!
Jodi Harvey-Brown is a spectacular sculptress, and stories are her medium.
“I have always loved art and I have always loved to read. It made sense to me that these two mediums should come together; the books we love to read should be made to come to life. My book sculptures are my way of making stories come alive.”
Further praise for the handwritten word – from Angie Warren at The Art of the Simple Blog:
In our digital day and age, of iPhones and tablets, of Facebook and text messages, it’s become all too easy to forget how important the written word is.
I lost my mom to cancer in the fall of last year, and not even twenty-four hours after she died did I begin a frantic search for her, for a connection to her. I listened to every voicemail, scrolled through her Facebook page, and physically looked through her closet. I needed to find her, some piece of her, that was tangible.
It wasn’t until I came upon letters from her that I realized this was tangible. This was more a part of her than any Facebook update or dress hanging in her room.
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve been gone a whole week. It still feels like you are just having a sleepover – until I look in the room ‘formerly known as Angie’s’ and it hits me again that you are gone.”
– May 24, 2001 –
I had just moved out, on my own for the first time when she wrote this. I look over her words, I touch them and close my eyes imagining how she once held this paper. Her thoughts, her love, her treasured soul poured out into them.
Recently while visiting with my grandmother, she shared with me how important the written word has been to her. Early in their marriage and then just into parenthood, my grandparents lived out of state, away from family and friends they’d known their entire lives.
She checked the mailbox daily, religiously, for a letter from home. A connection. A simple hello, that would mean they were missed and treasured and cared for. She said with sad eyes, “We didn’t get many letters those years. I sure wish we had.”
I’ve thought about this a lot lately, the legacy we are to leave behind. How many handwritten letters will my loved ones have from me? Or is it all buried within the walls of my Instagram account? Hear me when I say I am a lover of social media; however, I’m realizing how important it is to also leave the tangible.
How can I do this? A letter to my grandmother. A journal for my children. A note left for my husband in his wallet.
For me, this is important. My frantic search for my mother taught me just how important it is. A conversation with my grandmother taught me just how important it is.
I imagine it is important to you too. We must show our children and teach them, so they grow to appreciate it as well.
When was the last time you wrote someone you care for a note by hand? Don’t you think it’s about time?
I heart my MacBook, but I honor the handwritten word.
It’s powerful, y’all.
Image via Artsyville.