Language Note of the Week 31

1) You may blithely pile up adverbs when describing an action:

“My sister scampered slowly, clumsily, hungrily, ridiculously towards the cookie jar.”

That example is clear, fine and mean.

Here, the two -ly adverbs are dissonant and mildly confusing:

“Hemingway’s works function realistically primarily when they are autobiographical.”

Because “primarily” and “realistically” are not parallel (i.e. you can’t write “realistically, primarily when…”), there is a fight for the sentence-scope spotlight. That was an awful explanation.

Just look at this example. Its meaning is clear:

“For the most part, Hemingway’s works function realistically when they are autobiographical.”

2) Like flossing, cleaning our bicycle and backing up our system, naming data files is something we know should do… but don’t.

Name your files clearly. It will help you greatly when revising work, finding the file, or even reminding yourself where you’re at.

It need not be pretty – “MUSIC ARTICLE – NOT DONE YET FOR THE TUESDAY CANADIAN CULTURE GROUP” is an ugly but effective title.

Most importantly: if you have second thoughts about an essay and you submit an updated version, label your e-mail as if you’re a drama queen, and your file as if you’re an accountant.

E-mail subject line: “STOP! PLEASE GRADE this VERSION”

Title: “Essay Two Canadian Literature – Version Two – Ahačič.” [N.b. do not label your essay: “Essay – Blake.” I KNOW the essay is for me.]

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