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EVERYTHING BUT – The right word


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT – The right word

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The number one thing I am earnestly attracted to is intelligence. Writers are thus the pinnacle of intelligence. While actors are great and awesome, writers literally create new worlds from scratch. What is sexier than that? Personally, I don’t know why every person out there isn’t dating a writer. – Rachel Bloom, American writer, actress and comic.
 
EVERYBODY NOWADAYS HAS AN OPINION.
Which wouldn’t be so bad if most everybody acknowledged that the viewpoint put forward wasn’t expert and wasn’t often that logical, and which wouldn’t be half that bad either if half the opinion makers didn’t want to drive their positions into your head with the C-word and a sledgehammer.
I have a group of mostly ardent students into whom I weekly keep instilling that they should be self-critical and self-respecting critics; that they should read, read, read (outside the texts on the BlackBerry) and think as they do so.
I challenge them to think as they are prescribed for reading and analysis the works of the banking consultant Harry Russell, the mostly ebullient B.C. Pires, the teacher cum editor Sherwyn Walters, the more sedate NATION Editorials.
I ask them to take careful note of the strategically placed ribaldry of Richard Lowdown Hoad and the facility of language of Carl Moore. I insist they read the good columnists of the Barbadian media and elsewhere.
Reading, reading, reading I drill into their head without the Rihanna word.
Which brings me to a point of contention: the usage of words.
You have probably heard, when it comes to news writing, that the editor wants it short, sweet and to the point; he wants tight writing: conveying as much information
as possible in as few words as one can.
This is not to be confused with producing banal story leads with simplistic and vague words like “nice”, “interesting”, “big” and “stuff”. That is the practice of a lazy mind that is in a comfort zone with limited urban language vocabulary.
I never cease to preach that an efficient writer must have an expansive vocabulary, which he will only get by extensive reading himself. The myriad short spurts of communication on the BlackBerry via thk u 4 d bk simply wouldn’t do.
This obscene compression of the English language, no matter how expedient, will do nothing for the expanding of the mind.
How can one ever really visualize, outside of a gut feeling, and extrapolate a point if the form and imagery of words are continually truncated in this newest trend of communication?
The lack of thinking is really there to see on the innumerable blogs, along with the paucity of correct spelling and proper grammar. Thoughtlessness has taken on a whole new form of acceptability by a new breed of lawless communicators.
Some enemies of serious reading say they get their information in the newspapers from skimming the headlines; others, not much less stringy, swear they switch attention to another story if they butt a word they do not know or understand the meaning of. An enquiring mind they do not have – outside of the saucy interest in other people’s private business!
Now, critical thinking – or writing – is not to be taken as fault-finding or the tearing down of people and things, as happens, for example, in many calypso tent reports by the axe-wielding Jasons of the media.
Critical thinking and writing presuppose an understanding of the matter at hand and acquaintance with the exponents of said matter that will give authority to public comment. In public critical examination, personal feeling doesn’t count any more than it does in a popular survey for a mood of the people. Critical exposition demands more: above all, knowledge and intelligence.
Truth be told, if an opinion cannot be articulated in writing, it probably isn’t worth the word with which it was spoken or the effort taken.
As America author F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, the reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something; he writes because he has something to say.
 

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