Word Errors

This falls into the More-Than-Embarrassing class.

By Annette Rey

I have said watching television is a good thing for a writer. It can give you subjects about which to write. Proof in point, this article is a result of something I witnessed in a real-crime TV program.

A woman had violently murdered a rival and got away with it, claiming self-defense.

Some years later, she was put in prison for playing a conspiratorial role in a murder. She had not actually laid a hand on this victim.

A man commenting on the case said, “That was kind of erotic.”

I paused, rather shocked. I thought, how is that erotic? It bothered me. This was a respected, crime-coverage program. The people producing this show should know English. Didn’t anyone catch that? Wouldn’t they have shot that scene again?

I was embarrassed for the man, and the program.

Do you know what word the man would have said if he hadn’t settled for a sound alike word?

The word is ironic.

The incorrect use of erotic at that crucial stage of the story was a glaring error in a subject of such serious nature. It stunned me and interfered with the flow of the film. They lost me. I didn’t pay a lot of attention after hearing that. My mind was preoccupied with questions. Didn’t a lot of people on the set hear that? What of the editing process? And worse, are people unconcerned about proper use of language?

This could happen to you in your writing. And it disturbs your reader.

Work hard on your piece. Reread it a dozen times. Read it aloud. If something doesn’t sound just right, follow your instincts and check on it.

Owning reference books is a must. At the very least you should have a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a grammar book. Don’t primarily rely on the internet to check your work. The internet is just a guide for informal writing. It is not the end-all for important submissions, although the Chicago Manual of Style site is one I would trust.

Approach your work with the desire to present a professional image. Keep learning the craft of writing. Do a lot of reading. This will help you improve your use of English. Preplan, yet be flexible. Re-do your work. Shoot for perfection. Try to eliminate those embarrassing errors.

Make it your best before you press send.


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