Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hearing Voices: Tongue-tied with Stomach Knots

In a world wherein so much appears to be bizarre, insane, and beyond rational explanation, Secret Agent Reginald Dipwipple knows the insider truth: the world is incredibly incompetent. This is the world he operates in, fighting the good fight against terrorists just trying to make a living through mass intimidation. It is a world wherein words are weapons when they contain too many syllables. A world wherein computers have personality, geeks are cosmopolitan, and blondes are smart enough to deceive. A world of acronyms utterly indecipherable to the uninitiated: HUMINT, MASINT, GUTTER, USSR. A world where crises cause comedy.

With today’s language, is it any wonder crisis happens? Who can understand what anyone is really saying? I ask you. I downloaded this book to my Kindle because the topic really resonates with me. Click here to read more about Tongue-tied With Stomach Knots.

This month at the Blood-Red Pencil we take a look at changing language in many areas of our lives, from the Internet to business to YA novels, and along the way, any other interesting aspects of communication we can dredge up. What really drives you crazy about modern language? On the Internet? At work? In fantasy? How about the spoken word? Even in history.

Leave us a comment or request if there is something of special interest we can write about later in the month.
Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil and likes clear, straightforward communication rather than cool or fancy words that more often than not obscure the issues. She hopes she’s not the only one. 

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  1. That's what I thought - and after yesterday's ridiculous chicken and politics posturing in America, the madness angle really resonated with me! I'm also reading Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood and the language in that is making my eyes roll. Are you going to talk about your "love" of McCaffrey names, Elle? LOL. I know made-up words that our too outre really put me off a book.

  2. "Up with that I will not put." The famous line from Churchill gives us permission not to follow the hard and fast "rules." But sometimes the ever-changing language and rules can create a whirlwind of confusion for writers and editors.

    I like the title and premise of this book.

  3. Yes, language can be strange, when bad and far out can both mean good!
    We are in a crazy world.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. When I read books from bygone eras, I sometimes do a double take at a word (or words) that don't seem to fit or that I've never heard before. Have you ever tried reading Chaucer? Yikes! I've been told that Cantebury Tales was written in English, but it sure looks like a foreign tongue to me.

    Language changes constantly. Hip words of the flapper era make us smile, but we rarely use many of them. Slang, in particular, seems to be generational. Yet words are the tools of the writer. Without words we have no books (except picture books), no ability to communicate (except by grunts and signs), no way to pass on information to future generations. So we learn to use it wisely, humorously, effectively; it becomes our passion.

    Language starts wars and negotiates peace treaties. It upbuilds and destroys, and it is essential to every segment of our lives.

    Most often, language is conveyed by words, but on occasion it finds other means of expression -- a look, a touch, a hug, a gun…

    This should be interesting. :-)

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  6. Back in the dark ages when I was teaching, I would give an assignment to freshmen to choose a made up word as a class. Define what it means. Then go out and use it. Then they would try to track its usage by other students who didn't know it was made up or an assignment. Sometimes they would come up with a pretty good word. Other times, it was just a synonym for bong. But those words related to drinking tended to go viral the fastest on a college campus.

  7. I just read Pollyanna for the first time and there was certainly a lot of intercourse! LOL.

  8. Helen, I love what you did with the students. What a fun assignment.

    LOL, Dani. There is a lot of intercourse in many classic books. I have to smile when I read them now.

  9. Linda, your language guest post sounds great. I tried to reply at the office but it won't let me, so I'm telling you here!

  10. Morgan: Not to mention, "wicked" and "sick" now also mean "good" or "cool" or "great".

  11. Really cool stuff in my day was bitchin'. Really? Let me roll my eyes before I book for the night.

  12. Helen, I too love the sound of your assignment!

    And I can't believe it, but this week I actually used the word some of this newer slang when I saw US Olympic gymnast John Orozco's floor routine while vying for the individual all-round medal. It was sick!

  13. Dear Madam Greer:

    My greeting and felicitations! -- both to you and to your fellow bloggers, all of whom I see pleasantly crowded at the tip of humankind’s intellectual acme. Yes, ladies, I do recognize your collective genius because each of you has expressed it so obviously through your very kind comments concerning my fictional memoirs, Tongue-Tied With Stomach Knots (An Enlightened Comedy). Hopefully this published chronicle, which you could call a comical confabulation of my curious career in all its consistently cataclysmic craziness, will captivate your enthusiasm, thrill you into a love of literature unconventional in its conventions and pretensions, and transform you into an eminent fan. I’d love to have a few of those fans because most people who chase me tend to have other ideas.

    Read and enjoy!

    Respectfully (because all my readers deserve respect),
    Reginald Dipwipple
    Secret Agent Extraordinaire


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.