Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby yoyo123 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:48 am

What is everyone's take on using grammatically incorrect expressions when a story is told in first person?

For example, the idiom "It got my back up," is poor English, ending in a preposition. But if it's something the narrator would think, is it still ok to use something like this? Or is that just bad writing?

That's just one example, but I'm wondering how casual one can be when writing in first person. I want to achieve a particular mood, but without losing quality of writing.

User avatar
disgruntledpeony
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:21 pm

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:35 am

Grammatical errors are more acceptable in first person; after all, the narrative is essentially told in the voice of the viewpoint character. Your example sentence wouldn't bother me a whit.

I should note that I wouldn't recommend using accents in a character's unspoken narrative, simply because it reads incredibly awkwardly. If you keep the same general rhythms of their speech patterns, though, it should work out fine (whether you type out an accent for their speech or not).
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
wotf029 wotf042 wotf027 wotf042 wotf043

User avatar
orbivillein
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:37 pm
Location: Anatoll

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby orbivillein » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:09 am

"It got my back up." "Up" in that case is an adverb that modifies verb "got." The sentence rearranged shows that is so. It got up my back. Though that restructure somewhat changes the meaning. Up's customary parts of speech include adverb, adjective, preposition, noun, and verb, and, at times, possibly interjection. The expression, regardless, is grammatically correct: subject, predicate, object, active voice, subjective case sentence, and adverb end.

Some verbs take a directional adverb, like "got" can, as part of a two-word intransitive verb. The second word, either an adverb or preposition as the case may warrant, is known as a "particle." Two-word transitive verbs can also take a preposition article instead. Sit up, back, down, on, off, at, is an example of the former. Sit onto a chair, is an example of the latter.

The expression being an idiom, not much could be done different with the sentence save to use a different expression. The idiom is on the worn side. Trite language is fine if context that supports tired expression transcends triteness. Speech and thought often can be trite when "in character" for a speaker-thinker.

Other thoughts about the expression above include, "It" possible pronoun subject antecedent problem. Presumably, the subject referent timely comes before the expression. Otherwise, the pronoun is an expletive. Too many "it," "it's," and "its" in quick succession could be tiresome, too.

"Got" and any to get verb is at times used in passive voice to substitute for a to be verb before a present or past participle verb, It got beaten at chess ([by a master.] -- preposition-object phrase that is the predicate's true actor) ; It got beat at chess. ; It gets beat at chess. ; It would get beat at chess. ; It is getting beaten at chess. Each and all passive voice uses of to get. However, "It got my back up" is active voice. "It" is the subject actor of the predicate's action.

"Got" for the idiom's use is an intransitive verb, requires no object. Object phrase "my back up" is subjective case, signals the verb is intransitive. Transitive case "got" is for objective case sentence objects. Transitive verbs require an object.

Other ways to express the same concept could be more vivid and lively if needed for the situation. One, the worn and understated emotional nature of the expression could imply a weary resignation toward annoyance. Context would prove that out. Stronger emotional texture could serve instead. The butt-hat backside wipe got my nerves up a drain pipe. Whatever fits the character and situation's nature. Options are manifold, unconventional grammar included, for a viewpoint character's (first or other person) stream-of-consciousness discourse.

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 309
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby MattDovey » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:02 am

I've always thought that any and all grammatical rules are suspended for dialogue, so long as it still makes sense to the reader. That's all grammar is, after all--an agreed syntax to allow readers to more easily interpret writing and intuit the meaning. I'm sure orbivillein will have some much cleverer and technically correct thoughts on this, being a much cleverer & technical sort of bod, but that works for me as a rule of thumb.

For example, I never, ever, don't ever use exclamation marks in my writing; they look cheap and childish to my eye. "But Matt!" I hear you cry, "Surely some characters need them as an expression of their excited manner of speaking!" Yes, yes they do.

"And what about them there characters what use more words than what they necessarily, strictly speaking need, and use 'em in a real buggered about kinda order?" Well, sometimes that's just how people speak.

Should you do it in a first person narrative? Ye-ees, but with the caveat that it's a lot more exhausting to read when the whole story is presented that way, rather than just the dialogue. You necessarily need to go easier on it.

I had all sorts of grammatical shenanigans in my dialogue and thoughts in my winning story, though, so it's certainly do-able for the contest. The narrative itself was tight third-person though, not first person, so the majority of the story was still told in straightforward English.
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
MattDovey.com | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
Dustin Adams
Posts: 1466
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
Location: NY, state of
Contact:

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby Dustin Adams » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:09 am

Have a look at Shifter, in V.31.
At least, the start of it.

I think consistency is key.
And don't be weird.
And Yoda speak, do not.
2x Finalist
1x Semi
2x Silver
7x HM
Eight EDF stories. DSF: Flash1. Flash2. Short Story. My Semi-F

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 309
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby MattDovey » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:36 am

Dustin Adams wrote:Have a look at Shifter, in V.31.
At least, the start of it.


Good call that man. Probably not a coincidence that Shifter was one of my favourites in that volume.
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
MattDovey.com | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby yoyo123 » Thu Nov 12, 2015 6:18 am

Thanks everyone, this helps. Now that you mention it, I do remember Shifter.

User avatar
orbivillein
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:37 pm
Location: Anatoll

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby orbivillein » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:09 am

Actual real speech and thought messy-up free association -- stream of consciousness: long time did and as like coined for by William James, elder brother to next-by-age peck place Henry James, whom am knowed by The Turn of the Screw.

Speech's, sure, messiness can be known -- like, you know, peoples does jabbers, selfs-interrupts, usurps interrupts you, them, others, kins and alls; speak hesitated . . . speak . . . yes! by heck cripes, much excitedly! tag, what, questions onto assertednesses? strewn very, very numerous many numbers pretty and plenty and lovely much lively adverbs and adjectives -- enjamb and enjoin and and and, and or and yes but so that that as when while sun shadows -- and accentuate and emphasize; hedge, assert, okay, thoughts speeches strays heres from there; are jibberers, excitables, and off-the cuffs, on-the-flys, extemporaneouses, improvisationals and spontaneouses -- ephemeral. Fragged. Emotional.

Thoughts' messiness, though can be known, is to individuals and less knownable. And so -- but -- because since thoughts is private thought are messier than speeches is.

However though, but sinces the converses thingy that fiction and its likes and such am and ain't and the "law" rule principle guideline for about reading and comprehend eases -- it am gossips just a messiness speeches' flavor of speech will could dab-a-do. Okay, well, so are do done dint to an speech and the thought grammar's like a option's are descriptive for, yeah, a taste of messiness, not like prescriptive or other, say, proscriptive ultimate or so much many gimmick or glop or mistake -- uh-huh, glitch and error. Yep. Unless . . . like, you know, the thing and them and mom and all are like that when they speech and thoughts is -- I mean, are, were was -- which them, you know, will. Oh ho!?

amoskalik
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:40 pm
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby amoskalik » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:19 pm

Dustin Adams wrote:Have a look at Shifter, in V.31.
At least, the start of it.


Actually Shifter is in v. 30. I couldn't remember it at first, but when I go the right volume It popped into mind right away. Funny how the brain works...
Trajectory HM R R HM R R HM HM HM R

User avatar
Dustin Adams
Posts: 1466
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
Location: NY, state of
Contact:

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby Dustin Adams » Thu Nov 12, 2015 6:06 pm

Was it?
Funny. I just re-read it the other day, so I assumed 31. :)

Thanks for the correction. I do like to keep them straight. (And others, if they go crazy looking for it.)

That story literally gets better every time I read it.
2x Finalist
1x Semi
2x Silver
7x HM
Eight EDF stories. DSF: Flash1. Flash2. Short Story. My Semi-F

FictionMuse
Posts: 388
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:13 pm

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby FictionMuse » Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:16 am

Language is expression, not science. There are generally accepted/commonly used formulas, but no "correct" formulas. There are, however, effective formulas and ineffective formulas. Writers deal in effective formulas. Leave the "correct" formulas to high school English teachers.

User avatar
Randy Hulshizer
Posts: 270
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:16 am
Location: Pennsylvania USA
Contact:

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Sat Nov 14, 2015 5:10 am

FictionMuse wrote:Language is expression, not science. There are generally accepted/commonly used formulas, but no "correct" formulas. There are, however, effective formulas and ineffective formulas. Writers deal in effective formulas. Leave the "correct" formulas to high school English teachers.


Amen wotf010
Track Record: R X 3; HM X 3

kentagions
Posts: 226
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:45 pm
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby kentagions » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:10 pm

When I moved to the Midwest (U.S.), I was appalled to hear, "Wanna come with?" as an invitation to join in an excursion. Ending a sentence with a preposition hurt my ears. But everyone my age violated the "rule."

English is like sticky mud, refusing to be pinned down, resisting structure and picking up new elements with every language it touches. Etymology tracks how words have entered the language, where they came from and how their meaning has changed over time.

Tolkien was a linguist who worked extensively with the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages, allowing him unique insight into the structure of language. Arguably, it is the individual voices of his characters (the words they use which differentiate them from each other, and from others of their species hailing from elsewhere in Middle Earth, thus showing differentiated dialects) that solidifies the realism of Middle Earth.

I developed common language/s and an international language for one universe. The common language in my first HM was grammatically correct, but simple and full of idioms. The international language is painfully grammatical and relatively complex, but devoid of idioms.

Advice: Study. Try to have a conversation with a Geordie (I've never looked at English the same way since). Build language along with worlds (Forest people will speak differently than ocean people). Be mindful of audience. Be consistent. Have a great time.

Kent

User avatar
Ishmael
Posts: 1601
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:47 am
Location: Stirlingshire, UK

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby Ishmael » Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:10 am

kentagions wrote:Try to have a conversation with a Geordie.

Howay bonnie lad! If yee gan speak tuh a geordie at aaal yas deeyuhn geet wey.

wotf019
1 x SF, 1 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .524
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

Re: Question about grammatically incorrect expressions

Postby yoyo123 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:34 am

Thanks, everyone!


Return to “Writing: Craft, Talent, Technique”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest