Words, as a topic, have cropped up a good deal lately. If I’m not arguing with ProWritingAid, I’m hunting through the Urban Dictionary or trying to figure out why three spellings of ‘chauffeur’ all seem to be correct as none of the three variations generate a red bad spelling squiggle.
I don’t really argue with PWA. Arguing with software is a waste of time and downright stupid. I will eyeball the running report in the sidebar and go “Oh yeah?”. The latest was dealing with a split infinitive. Their suggestion was “Never! You’ll look like the world’s biggest dumb ass if you don’t rewrite it!” It wasn’t in dialog, so I had to check it out. However, it was a character summarizing the contents of a letter. What I wanted required the adverb between the to, and the verb, or it didn’t “read” correctly. I recalled Elmore Leonard’s wisdom–“I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”–and I split the damn infinitive. After all that, I remembered the most famous infinitive split ever, “To boldly go…”. Boldly to go, to go boldly. Nah. Split that fucker, and carry on.
Here’s another one (unless you read YA fantasy or are under, say, 30). Voidless. Contextually, it described someone’s sleep. I thought, WTF? Voidless? Void is nothing. The suffix -less implies without. Sleepless. No sleep. Weightless. No weight. My logic said “Don’t use this word in Scrabble”. The logic voice also said voidless would mean without void (nothing), so whoever it was had sleep without void. Troubled, bothered, disrupted sleep. Hell no. It means less than void. Like nothingness compounded. Don’t believe me? Here’s the Urban Dictionary definition, complete with original poor grammar.
adj. A noun and or verb that is simultaneously negative and void being that it is lesser than nothingness.
The examples that were given are classic “let’s make up a word because we have no vocabulary” because in each example given, the word devoid (without) would have sufficed. Except this one–This week’s writing assignment-fix this- The voidless tone of the mans voice confirmed that he was both shaken and enraged by his current situation.
But wait-there’s more. I mentioned the word chauffeur. Depending on what software is checking, it can have 2xf, 1xf, fer, fuer, feur. Huh? Forget that. What about (on my computer) three different variations on combos like window sill, door post, air conditioning or conditioner, hand brake. I don’t recall which is which, but in those and many other instances they can be split as above, combined or “didn’t you mean to hyphenate?”. And not remembering which I believed last time means I have to pick one to proof my documents.
Grammar is a form of retentive insanity and I’m glad I don’t understand it. I’m curious if there’s a free standing grammar checker. I just got the choices to combine or hyphenate both free standing and grammar-checker. I’m going to leave them as a literary middle finger. I’d like a grammar engine that pushes all the others aside and takes over. Or maybe, since I haven’t paid for it in a couple of years, I should uninstall Grammarly so I’ll only have to watch PWA, Microsoft and Scrivener duke it out.