Grammar Quirks: Tiffany Rosenhan on 'Poronkusema'

Tiffany Rosenhan, author of "Girl From Nowhere," shares the grammar quirks she's acquired while writing. 

Tiffany Rosenhan, Writing for
2-minute read

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

Tiffany Rosenhan: "Poronkusema." It’s an untranslatable Finnish word meaning “how far a reindeer can walk before needing the toilet.” It’s brilliant in its universality, because it can be applied to children as well. Every morning of my mothering life, I have left the house under a timeframe of poronkusema. (I first found this word in "What a Wonderful Word" by Nicola Edwards and Luisa Uribe and promptly asked my Finnish neighbor who confirmed its authenticity!)

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

Buy Now

As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Affiliate, QDT earns from qualifying purchases.

TR: "Duh." It should be used only when essential, duh.

GG: What word will you always misspell?

TR: "Witch" and "which"! I type too fast to counterbalance my Hogwarts education.

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

TR: "Techilliterate"! I made it up one night, desperate to describe myself.

GG: Any grammar pet peeves we should know about?

TR: Boring pronouns.

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

TR: It becomes more important the farther I get into revisions! During the creative stage, when maintaining flow is essential, constantly editing poor grammar is far more distracting than simply skimming over mistakes. However, once I start to ruthlessly edit, grammar and syntax become key parts of each character’s voice.

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

TR: “Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company” - Lord Byron

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

TR: Punctuation kills me. I’m not detail oriented enough to catch misplaced parenthesis and quotation marks!