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Grammar Quirks: Bourne Morris on Her Dislike of Fancy Words

Bourne Morris, author of "A Woman of Two Minds," discusses words she doesn't like, her daughter's invention of "smallen"-ing something, and the importance of good grammar. 

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Bourne Morris, Writing For,
a woman of two minds

Grammar Girl: What’s your favorite word and why?

Bourne Morris: My favorite word is “concision” although it is rarely used. It’s so much more concise than "conciseness."

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GG: What’s a word you dislike (either because it’s overused or misused) and why?

BM: I dislike the use of fancy words when simple ones will do. I don’t like the use of “paradigm” when the word “example” would do.

GG: What word will you always misspell?

BM: I always have to check how I spell "alcohol." I keep putting in an extra H.

GG: What word (or semblance of a word) would you like to see added to the dictionary? Why?

BM:  When she was a two-year old, my daughter made up a wonderful word when a toy ring was too large. “We should smallen it, “she said. I think “smallen” would be a great addition.

GG: Any grammar pet peeves we should know about?

Poor grammar stops the reader dead in her tracks. I hate stopping the reader.

BM: I avoid the use of semicolons. For me a comma means pause and a period means stop, and that’s all I need for my stories. Editors love to put in semicolons, and I love to take them right back out.

GG: To what extent does grammar play a role in character development and voice?

BM: To a great extent. Especially in dialogue, grammar helps shape the character. Also, poor grammar stops the reader dead in her tracks. I hate stopping the reader.

GG: Do you have a favorite quotation or passage from an author you’d like to share?

BM: I love James Thurber’s irritation with too many commas:  He viewed them as “upturned office chairs unhelpfully hurled down the wide-open corridor of readability.”

GG: What grammar, wording, or punctuation problem did you struggle with this week?

BM: Finding the right description for my latest book. Another word I dislike is “genre.”

About the Author

Bourne Morris, Writing For Grammar Girl
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