Misuse of Language

Misuse of language is one of my pet hates. So are the Halifax adverts. And my husband’s snoring. And people buying books who count out their money onto the counter, then hold out their hand for the change; that makes me seethe inwardly. But I digress.

Misuse of language; it happens all the time, mostly quite innocently, cropping up in conversation. But then there are those misused written words, printed words, published words. They have less excuse; they are deliberate, or at the very least, thoughtless. Writers beware! It’s one thing to come across wrong words in an early draft of a chapter or short story  – although  I have come across words misused where quite clearly the context demands the antonym, and I have wondered… but I’m digressing again. The specific lexical instance that has brought me to this point occurred in last Saturday’s* Telegraph Review Magazine (I did search for the article online, but got bored looking, frankly). The article was an interview with Tom Hanks, about the new series he has produced with Steven Spielberg, The Pacific. I quote from the second introductory paragraph;

“Between the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the mornings in August 1945 when atom bombs fell on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…”

(Will Lawrence, Telegraph Review, 27 March 2010)

I have a problem with this. Bombs do not simply fall passively from the sky. They are actively dropped. Even in the context of an article about American bravery against an alien culture** – the Imperial Army’s refusal to surrender, kill or be killed was the only order – this curious evasion of culpability stands out. Yes, Japan attacked first. But they attacked the US Fleet. By dropping two atom bombs on two cities, the US caused an unthinkable amount of collateral damage, and changed the world forever. You might as well say that the RAF flew over Dresden, which then coincidentally spontaneously combusted. Writers beware – we are responsible for how the past is written for the future to read. We must choose our words with care, lest we forget, and the truth be obscured from our children.

* I only caught up with reading the Review Magazine today, owing to last weekend’s loss to the migraine.

**And don’t get me started on classic Western narcissism, anything Occidental being good, everything Oriental, mad. Edward Said put it so beautifully, so concisely, so eruditely, in his book Orientalism, and I have just realised that I have lost my copy – HORRORS!


Beginnings and Endings

Things have been a little slow here lately, largely owing to the ongoing battle with my own head. A combination of stress and poor sleep has culminated in a rather ugly migraine, which is still doing its best to linger. I am winning however, and damn me if I don’t prevail!

Before my head started doing its best to beat me up, I managed to finish my little unexpected foray into the genre of Horror. It still needs a proper title, and a major editorial overhaul at a later stage, but it was jolly good fun to write. I’ve shown it to a couple of people – and even though horror isn’t their thing, either – they loved it. This one might have legs…

I will be reworking the story that is currently on its 8th life, as soon as the new printer cartridge arrives. This one needs editing on the page in order to be effectively rewritten. And of course, the play-list will need reviving too; I’ll be listening to a lot of Muse, later this week; I need to, to get the right feeling for the Main Character. She’s a whole year old, born of listening to Muse after seeing The Watchmen at the cinema, last February. And recently I changed her name, just a little. The prospect of revisiting her, and her first story, makes me rather happy.

What else? I finally finished reading The Pregnant Widow. I have to say that I quite liked it. Bits of it – chunks of it – I found quite puerile. But then to take the meaning literally, perhaps that is Amis’ intent? Of course, I have not the experience of having been a confused young man trying to get laid – and more – during the sexual revolution; given that this is sold as an autobiographical novel, then I pity the poor sod. I seriously doubt that to have been his intent however. And the rest of it? Once into the swing of it, I rather enjoyed the reading of it. Interesting, thought provoking, even at times, arresting. I can’t say that I’m inclined to rush out and read his back-list though; too many books, too little time! So what will it be next? China Miéville’s The City and The City? Or Marina Lewycka’s We Are All Made of Glue? Or perhaps a change of pace, another foray into historical biography? Decisions…

Another thing which makes me inordinately happy is that the apple tree is about to firework into blossom – gloriously heady scented white blossom, and then the aquilegias will be out, and the wisteria will acquire fatly swelling buds, and then it all rushes together, this lovely season we call Spring.