Monday, December 10, 2007

How to improve writing (no. 17 in a series)

From a newspaper review of a concert:

an anchor of the famous "Hallelujah" chorus
That would be an encore. The moral of the story: when handling an unfamiliar word, don't trust intuition or a spellchecker. Use a dictionary and make sure that what you're writing is what you mean.

This post is no. 17 in a very occasional series, "How to improve writing," dedicated to improving stray bits of published prose.
A related post
On "pneumonic" devices

All "How to improve writing" posts (via Pinboard)

comments: 6

Lee said...

A delightful example: I'm now planning on using anchor/encore as soon as possible in word play. Have you got any more?

Michael Leddy said...

Lee, I just remembered another one and added a link for it above: Attention Defecate Disorder. These kinds of mistakes abound in the folklore of teaching, but I think it's more wonderful to see them in print.

Barrel Of A Pencil said...

Actually Michael, for your purposes, the snippet you quote in such an abbreviated context, is not demonstrably nonsensical. At greater length your point would be proven on its face.

Michael Leddy said...

Okay, more context: the "Hallelujah" chorus was played after the pieces on the program, as an encore.

Michael Leddy said...

What I should've said: Anchor could indeed be read as meaningful, not nonsensical, as Barrel of a pencil suggested. And the full sentence in which anchor appeared wouldn't rule out a meaningful use of the word. Being at the concert was really the context that made anchor (for me) an obvious error -- i.e., knowing that the piece was played as an encore. I should've added that in my post; there's no way, of course, for a reader to know that.

Genevieve said...

I will never forget the article in our local newspaper about an Arab "chic" who was visiting the area.