Written English

My pet hates regarding written English (by writers from anywhere)


Probably the biggest problem with written English, from all those less than excellent writers of English, is their poor grasp of good punctuation. Even some famous writers, whose English you would expect (and would be entitle to expect) to be excellent, occasionally commit what I consider punctuation sins; however, I suspect that the editors at their publishers may to to blame here.

I am developing a thorough look at this subject: see Punctuation

Organization of thought!

Once sentence structure is understood, and there is a decent grasp of punctuation, the organization of thought is the next requirement. That is way beyond the topic of writing bugbears, but I have come across supposedly learned books by supposedly very learned people, whose thought processes are either to be marvelled at or despaired of, for their writing can be almost inpenetrable.

One example of this is Kant and the Platypus by Umberto Eco, and although you might say "ah, well, you just aren't clever enough to understand what he's saying" I think I am, and I think his thought process is just a muddle, and is a long way from understanding what he is trying to write about. I cannot develop that argument here; it is not the right place and I don't have the tme this year (and it is only March). But I shall establish my case one of these days.

Broken lists

Many writer do not grasp the basic rule for a list: every item in the list must be of the same type. Most important of all, they must be the same part of speech: if the first item in the list is a noun, then every other item must be a noun; if, on the other hand, the first item in the list is a verb, then every other item must be a verb. The other possible parts of speech for this are of course the adjective and the adverb. Often, each item is an entire sentence. The use, and correct writing, of lists is another subject so complex that I think I will have to write a special page about it. See Lists.