December 30, 2008

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

So said Ralph Wiggum, indignant and incredulous. A friend of this ministry has emerged via anonymous comments, kindly pointing out the errors in the English of my posts. Of course I thoroughly enjoy this, both because I love grammar and because I don't believe writing to be one my gifts anyway.

But the question remains: how is that, only nineteen months out of graduate school, I am making so many grammatical errors? Have I forgotten the torturous sessions with my second reader, wrangling over my alleged colloquialisms and unnecessary use of the passive voice? (I continue to protest that colloquialism is a special privilege of Franciscans and that the passive voice is necessary for theological reflection. After all, where would the Sacred Scriptures be without the theological passive? Christ was raised from the dead, after all.) Have I forgotten about the erudite but somewhat hyperbolic Jesuit who wrote on one of my papers, "Worst sentence ever"? Indeed, it was a very poor sentence, but could anyone be so well-read as to be confident that he had read the worst sentence ever?

Nevertheless, I have been reflecting on my grammatical breakdown, and I have blamed it on preaching. Unlike when I was in school, I now do most of my serious composing not for the eye but for the ear. Thus, when I write I am concentrating on things like rhythm, rhetorical parallelisms (traids, etc., in my Bonaventurian pretensions), delivery seams, and punchlines. In all this the sentences get long and the constructions complex, perhaps to a degree that would never be tolerated by an editor. As anyone who reads or writes will tell you, long sentences and needless complexity are the easiest way to start making case and agreement errors.

So keep on keeping me on my toes.


Pia said...

I think you write wonderfully, Fr. C.! Am I too early to wish you happy new year?

GrandmaK said...

I find myself checking my own gammar since I started blogging...My mother is my worst critic, so I have to be careful too, Cathy