Saturday, 25 November 2017

As Writers, Do We Need to be Perfect with our Language All the Time?

 As writers, who want to share their stories with others, I believe, we have a duty to be pedantic about our use of language; that is, correct grammar and spelling. There will always be difficult, complicated and varied opinions about some aspects but we should do our very best and continue to learn.

Having said that, I think there are areas, especially with dialogue, we need to diverge from accuracy to correctly portray characters in words to our readers.

My favourite Australian writers is CJ Dennis.1 His writing can take some getting used to but, when read as it is written, you have a clear image of the speaker and their accent. Here is one example from his poem Doreen:

'Er name's Doreen ...Well, spare me bloomin' days!
You could er knocked me down wiv 'arf a brick!
Yes, me, that kids meself I know their ways,
An' 'as a name for smoogin' in our click!
I just lines up 'an tips the saucy wink.
But strike! The way she piled on dawg! Yer'd think
A bloke was givin' back-chat to the Queen....
'Er name's Doreen.

Somehow it just would be the same written in pure English.

How much should authors follow purity in spelling and grammar especially with dialogue. The writer must convey his characters with some accuracy and if that character is supposed to have say an Irish accent then that is how it needs to be written to convey it to the reader. That cannot be done using ‘proper’ English

To accurately give an indication of person’s accent, or even their lack of education, it is beneficial to the reader if the author can have that reader “hear” the spoken word. Local jargon also helps the reader imagine the character.

These might be expressions used frequently in a particular country eg in Australia people are frequently greeted with g’day (good day) or if you are happy with something someone has done you might say ‘bewdy mate!’

Both England and Australia have sections of the community that use rhyming slang eg ‘I am going down the frog and toad’ (road).

However, there are some phrases and words common today that I believe should NOT be used because they are simply bad grammar. The one that annoys me the most is the common use of ‘yous’ as a plural for you.

What are your thoughts on the subject? 

1 Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, (7 September 1876 – 22 June 1938) was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1916 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history. Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Realise and Appreciate the Value of Time

To realise the value of ONE YEAR ask a student who failed a grade.
To realise the value of ONE MONTH, ask a Mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realise the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realise the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realise the value of ONE MINUTE, ask the person who just missed the train.
To realise the value of ONE SECOND, ask the person who just avoided an accident
To realise the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won the Olympic Silver Medal.

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more, because you shared it with someone special.
Special enough to spend your time with. And remember that time waits for no one.

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Unplanned Adventure by Pamela king

Central Station, Sydney c 1960s

It was early morning as I stood with my parents at Central Station excitedly waiting for the train to Griffith. 
It’s strange, I thought, I wonder why Mum and Dad are allowing me to do this trip on my own?

Although their decision had surprised me, I was proud they trusted me. I felt no nervousness and was excited but I did wonder what I would do for about 10 hours on the train, even with my book to read.

For about the fifth time Mum reminded me. “Now don’t forget, you don’t need to change trains, and Mr and Mrs Sutcliffe will meet you at Griffith station”.

“It will be quite an experience for you living on a sheep property in the middle of nowhere but you will have a great time with the three Sutcliffe children”, added Dad.

“I won’t forget Mum, stay on the train until Griffith.” “Yes, Dad, I am looking forward to seeing them again.”

As the train sounded its whistle we exchanged quick hugs and kisses all round, “Quickly, you better get on board!”

I settled in my seat and waved goodbye as the train pulled out. Now a little nervousness was creeping in. “Oh well, I can’t do anything about it now.” I thought to myself.

“Hello,” said the young woman sitting next to me. “My name is Carol. What’s yours?”

“Pam”. I replied shyly. “And what school do you go to?”

“I have just left primary school and start at Sydney Girls’ High this year.”

“Well that’s quite a coincidence! I have just completed my Leaving Certificate at Sydney Girls’ High.” We laughed and I asked a lot of questions about the school. Carol was also travelling to Griffith.

James and David, two brothers, a little older than Carol, were sitting opposite and overheard the us mention our destination. “We are going to Griffith too”, said James. They were very well dressed and polite. I was feeling comfortable now and sure the trip would not be boring. It wasn’t.

The train pulled into Narrandera. A conductor walked through. “All change!” We were very confused believing our journey was nonstop. We asked where the train to Griffith departed. “Platform 2, but hurry up it is about to leave.”

Struggling with our luggage we just made it up the stairs and down again in time to board.

With the luggage stowed we settled back into conversation. Only James didn’t participate. He was staring out the window with a frown on his face. “What’s up?” asked Carol.

“This train is going back to Sydney!” he exclaimed.

“No, it can’t be.” Said David. 

“I don’t care,” retorted James. We need to get off at the next station.” After checking the passing scenery, everyone agreed it was the only thing to do. 

At the next station we gathered our luggage, piled off the train and looked around for some sign of life. All we found was a small waiting room and a station sign that read: Grong Grong. Not a soul in sight. 

It was getting on for 6pm so, leaving our luggage in the shelter, we walked across the road to the one and only building with any light – the pub. At least we can get something to eat and hopefully phone the people meeting us in Griffith.

Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Just our luck it was the cook’s day off but the publican’s wife made us some sandwiches. Just as we were tucking into the these the publican came in with another man. The stationmaster!

Our new acquaintance told us there were no trains due until the morning but he would certainly ring through to Griffith for us. We traipsed back to the station wondering if we would need to get a room for the night at the hotel.

A few minutes later the stationmaster came running up carrying a lamp. He said we are in luck and we would get to Griffith about 10pm. We looked at each other. How if there were no trains?

“Hurry up, get your luggage together.” He said.

We heard a train approaching. He walked to the edge of the platform and started waving his lamp. The train pulled to a stop. It was a goods train. How is that going to help us?

“Come on.” he said. “Pick up your bags.”

Doing as we were told we grabbed our bags and followed him to the end of the long line of wagons. At the end was a small compartment that seated six people.

“In you go.” He smiled. “I’ve phoned Griffith Station and they have found the people waiting for you. You’ll be just fine now.”

It had been a long day and with the rocking of the train I soon dozed off. The next thing I hear is “Come on sleepy head. Wake up!” Mr Sutcliffe was standing there with a huge grin. 

He had driven on to Narrandera and met the train there. We piled in his car and he dropped my travel companions at the properties where they were staying then headed home.