The Intricacies of the English Language

The Intricacies of the English Language

English LaungageYes, I do keep saying I’ll get to marketing on books, but I suppose that is a topic I need to thoroughly think over before writing it, as there are so many things involved into marketing one’s book AFTER the publisher has done all the PR for you. So that post won’t be directed toward self-published authors (many market from start to finish, and some hire PR people), so that post will be directed at people published with either small or large houses. Conclusion: you can’t fully rely on your house to continue marketing for you after the book has been released, but, obviously, I’ll get more detailed in the next post.

In any case, through the Education classes I’ve taken and the one communications class I took, I have begun to realize that all this hand wringing over the rape of the English language is a little laughable. Perhaps my education is a little liberal, maybe politically correct, but who knows? For example, texting language is its own valid language that has its place among our society–that appropriate place being texting, not in writing essays because, obviously, teachers and professors are used to English as it is, and I certainly don’t know what every acronym among texting means; therefore, there is a time and place to use texting language, and essays and other academic writing is not it. Lauren Myracle’s TTYL is one example of a book that uses texting language. And, of course, I can see teachers and professors being frustrated with students because some students do happen to slip texting language into their essays, which is not the time and place to be using it.

I find the hand wringing over the ‘rape’ of the English language laughable–and this criticism is primarily directed at Ebonics–because a lot of us don’t even question why the English language is the way it is today. Yes, it has evolved over the years, but evolution does not mean improvement. Perhaps the English language has improved, but people who spoke English differently centuries ago might have difficulties trying to understand our English language of today, and vice versa for us. Now I’m going to admit upfront that I have little knowledge of why the English language has evolved in the way it has. I’m starting to see why taking the history of English language and structure would be useful, but it’s a class that intimidates the heck out of me, because apparently you have to learn how to speak Old English–or at least understand how to put sentences together or whatever.

Back to the topic at hand, though. I have learned through my Education courses that our English language is the way it is today because of the dominant powers in place that say we should be speaking this way, that we need to be speaking and writing this way, and these dominant powers are often the upper class and wealthy. Going back to Ebonics, there are people out there who think that, among the black community, these people are speaking Ebonics out of ignorance of the English language. However, I want to point out that Ebonics DOES have its own structure. For example, someone who speaks Ebonics might say, ‘My brother, he got in trouble.’ Those who speak regular English would just say ‘My brother got in trouble.’ However, for the person speaking Ebonics ‘My brother, he got in trouble,’ makes perfect sense to them. It is what they grew up speaking, and I don’t think this necessarily¬† means ignorance of the English language. It just means that in an academic setting, they have to be taught the proper way to speak English, because the dominant language in America is not Ebonics.

However, I think people need to come to the realization that Ebonics is its own language with its own structure. In fact, and I read this from a textbook of mine called Rethinking Multicultural Education, one teacher put Ebonics into her lesson plans to show her students that it indeed has its own structure. When people speak Ebonics, they are not deviating from that structure and making up sentence structures and words out of mid-air–slang and Ebonics are VERY different. This teacher had her students do an assignment on writing something in Ebonics so that the students who did speak Ebonics growing up weren’t made to feel ignorant. Rather, it made them feel empowered and legitimate, while also knowing that for academic assignments, Ebonics¬†wasn’t the “proper” language to write in, but a language that can be used outside of school when among friends and family.

This is similar to how foreign-speaking students who write in English structure the sentences in the way their language structures it. It’s not wrong at all, but in the English language, we’ve been taught that conciseness is a necessity because the dominant powers say it is. Books, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, were anything but concise, but many of them are still read today, like Jane Austen’s books. Perhaps people began looking at writing itself and began to realize conciseness is best, but for those who existed in Jane Austen’s time, they were very much used to the wordiness of sentences in the books written for them. At the same time, it was primarily the upper class that had the time to read books, so wordy sentences were okay with them because, well, they had the time to read these big books. Now in our hectic world where everyone’s time is divided between this and that, books are probably more concise to match with the fast-paced world we live in–but this is more of the way the market is. We don’t consider Jane Austen’s writing bad, even though her sentences are very wordy–especially Nathaniel Hawthorne’s books, so writing and speaking are a very subjective thing.

So what’s your opinion on all this stuff I’ve just laid out? Do you think the hand wringing of the English language is justified? Or do you think there is something else at work?




My Editorial Dream

My Editorial Dream

I’ve wanted to be an editor since I was in the eighth grade butchering my classmates’ stories and realizing how much I enjoyed doing content editing and copy editing. So I began my serious study of the English language because, frankly, public education doesn’t teach English that well, and it was up to me to fill in the holes of my education (like how to REALLY use commas, not just commas in a list). But it wasn’t until college did I start to take this career path seriously, especially considering I knew I would need credentials before even interning or at least working at a local magazine.

This was the first magazine where I received some editorial experience as a slush pile reader.

After being published in The Oddville Press, I came across a thread on their associated website that was asking for slush pile readers. Having no experience, I expressed my desire to be one due to my love of the English language and wanting some editorial experience. So they took me on as a slush pile reader where I finally got experience on the other side of things. One thing I learned from them: that first page is critical because there are lots of other subs to read and if I don’t like that first page, I might as well pass on it because it’s just time consuming to read a manuscript that doesn’t interest me. I slush piled with them for about a year before they ended the magazine because we just couldn’t keep everyone together, but it was an experience I was happy to be a part of. It’s a small step toward achieving a dream, after all.

This was my next place of editorial experience.

After The Oddville Press caved, I somehow stumbled across this gothic magazine–even though I can’t remember how. I saw it was a brand new magazine looking for some staff members, and I decided to apply as an Executive Editor. Not only did I have The Oddville Press as experience, but I was an editor for my high school’s newspaper (I really don’t count it because I didn’t have too much of a say in how things were done), and I wrote for the teen section of my local newspaper. The owner of the magazine decided to bestow me with the title, and I got to work right away writing articles, editing the articles of others, editing fiction, writing fiction, doing some photography, looking for poetry and photography, and seeking out ads to put in the magazine. I even edited a few pieces for a program we were trying to do for teen journalists. I even wrote an entire style guide for the magazine based off the Chicago Manual of Style because I noticed my style of editing differed from the other editor’s style of editing, and we needed one style in order to give the magazine some consistency. So I learned loads working for Sorean. But I eventually had to leave because Sorean was on a break, and I needed to move on, as, during my stint at Sorean, I got called on as an editorial and communications intern for YALITCHAT. I was also working at my university’s writing center at the time, where I learned a lot too and began receiving clients for my freelance editing.

This was my third place of editorial experience, and I received the most experience here that pretty much allowed me to go on and do freelance editing.

As an editorial and communications intern, I was in charge of keeping the website edited, maintaining a list of paid members, maintaining Georgia McBride’s marketing plan, assisting Georgia McBride with with her beta readers, and even her own manuscript on occasion; editing and formatting the newsletter; writing for the newsletter (of which I did like two or three times); vetting query submissions for the agent inbox (at YALITCHAT, if your query gets approved, it gets sent to an agent who puts it as top priority versus those that haven’t been vetted); line editing query letters ready to go to an agent; and assisting with member concerns and greeting new members. I learned enormous amounts about editing from Georgia McBride who edited half of my manuscript. I also learned loads just from beta reading for some of her clients when she wanted to prove a point to her client because he/she wasn’t willing to make the changes needed to better the manuscript. Unfortunately, this is when fibro began to attack me and I had to resign. I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I was in the process of forming my own literary magazine.

This is my magazine, my baby, my creation that would not have been possible without my dear friend Daphne Maysonet.

In truth, I wanted my own literary magazine for the longest time, but I had no experience and had no idea how to go about starting one. But because of all the experience I received from my previous editorial stints, I finally received the knowledge on both the editorial and business ends of how to start one. That, and meeting Daphne, who was interested in helping me make this happen, birthed The Corner Club Press (so named because we sat in the corner of the classroom with our friends and called ourselves The Corner Club). I enjoy every moment of getting to make this magazine come alive. I used to do the photography, but lately all my photography ideas have mainly been for my novel and I can’t come up with any that can comply with a magazine. I still edit, and it is a joy being able to make someone’s day just by sending them an acceptance–even though we do not pay. I love interacting with the writers on the Facebook page because I aim to be personal with everyone who likes us. Even though there have been times where I’ve had to take long vacations from this literary magazine, I have always came back to it because people want to be in it no matter what. And I want to be fair to the writers who submit to us because, well, without writers this magazine wouldn’t exist. Seriously.

I currently am existing in my editorial dream. I’m not being paid for The Corner Club Press, but I certainly do get paid for my freelance editing, of which wouldn’t be possible without all the editorial experience I’ve earned the past few years. I love having my own magazine, my own project, and I love being a freelance editor because I get to function as a teacher and watch my clients grow as writers. That is invaluable experience I would not give up for anything.