• Lifestyle

5 terms for lousy writing that don't exist (but should)

For today’s Red Line, we’ll forego the Q&A format – and delve into our deepest grammatical fantasies.

(… what? You don’t indulge in long, complicated fantasies about grammar? Weirdo.)

English has a lot of rules about style and form – but sometimes they don’t seem sufficient. Sometimes, one looks at an errant sentence and thinks, “If only there were a different way to express just how wrong this looks.”

With that in mind, I’d like to propose five grammar/writing terms that should exist:

1. Textomission

Textomission occurs to almost everyone when texting or composing a quick email on the phone. You submit completely to the sensation of urgency about getting the text sent, and thus forego grammar rules entirely. You’re in a rush, goshdarnit, you’re very busy and important! You don’t have TIME to type “you” instead of “u”.

Jane: Barbra, I can tell you committed an act of Textomission because you asked me “where shd i mt u?!” Please re-send text with actual words.
Barbra: Sht up Jane, where shd I mt u. PS ur a pain in the butt. __

2. J-and-Hing

Short for Jekyll-and-Hyding, this term describes when a piece of writing fluctuates wildly in tone throughout its construction – preferably in a way that makes the author seem slightly unstable. Bonus points if there are also pronoun-antecedent agreement issues!

Her essay started out in first person, but then went to third person with no warning – and where did that vulgar bit about her teacher come in? She was really J-and-Hing.

3. Siriference

Closely related to textomission, Siriference occurs when the autocorrect function on your smartphone takes over your sentence, distorting it completely and ruining your original construction (immortalized in blogs like Damn You Autocorrect).

Mom, I did not call you fat. I was trying to ask you about the cat, and my finger slipped. It was Siriference!

4. Fluffernutter

Fluffernutter occurs when someone tries to disguise the weakness of their main point with a lot of unnecessary rhetorical flourishes and fancy language – stuffing perfectly nice sentences with sweet, heavy crap. This is a form of redundancy, and is often done to impress or awe readers – or trigger sentimental reactions.

The bewhiskered and furry canine squeezed mightily through the tiny aperture over the threshold, gaining entrance into the verdant terrace.
[Editor: Are you trying to say the dog went out the doggy-door onto the lawn? Cut the fluffernutter.]

5. BOP

I have to give credit to my brother Brendan Hamill for this one. BOP (short for Better On the Phone) is an umbrella term for any long, wordy, written explanation of something that could easily be expressed in two sentences on the phone, or person-to-person.

Person 1: So I said to your brother, “Why don’t you try the pie?” and he said to me “I only like cherry pie,” and I said to him, “but I don’t make cherry pie,” and he said to me, “Well, I think Susannah does,” and I said to him “Well, then I’ll ask her for the recipe,” and so I got on the computer and looked up your email address and couldn’t FIND your email but then I did and I was so relieved and at first I mistyped it and reached this very nice woman in Kansas who spells her name S-U-S-A-N-N-A, isn’t that funny and-
Susannah: Mom. Please. BOP. Just call me.

How about you, readers? What new grammar/writing terms would you like to see in general usage?

CORRECTION: Last week, eagle-eyed freelancer Noelle Perry spotted that I used “cut-and-dry” as opposed to “cut-and-DRIED”. “Cut-and-dry” has become common usage, but “cut-and-dried” does indeed make more sense. Mea culpa!