It saddens me to have to circle writing errors in books.
I’ve been a bookworm all my life. Well, since I could read when I was four years old, thanks to my mom and Sesame Street.
My dad, whose first and main language was Serbian, was so proud of me being able to read his sixth or seventh language – and my ONLY language. I remember him grabbing the Vancouver Sun newspaper one day when a friend of his was visiting. I must have been four years old.
“C’desten!” my dad would say, which is how “Christine” sounded in his accent.
“C’mere. Read this.”
I shyly read out loud the headline at which he was pointing, followed by the first paragraph, and then I went to hide under the kitchen table, where my sister and I usually hung out when our parents had friends over, still hearing my dad bragging in the living room. The two men laughed and continued on in their regular communication.
My dad’s English writing was bad. He had little reason to write words when he came to Canada, diving straight into carpentry, which kept his hands busy with tools and numbers. When he had to spell something in English, he wrote it the way it would be spelled in anglicized Serbian, and by that I mean English letters with Serbian sounds and accent marks, not full-on Cyrillic characters.
By the way, I usually hear people pronounce “Cyrillic” as “ser-RILL-ik”. My parents and their Serbian friends always pronounced it “CHEER-litz”.
A favorite example is how my dad wrote the word “church” in his address book. I can still see his right-slanting all-caps that said “črč”.
Maybe I have, perhaps at least in part, become such a stickler for good English writing because of the struggles my dad had with it. He used to say he had stories from the old country that would make a bestseller, if only he could write it all out. I wish he would have.
Here I sit today in my favorite little cafe, waiting for the air conditioning to get fixed on my truck at the shop up the road. I was reading a book and after three circles of my red pen I decided to put the book down and write this here in my WordPress blog.
It is a book written by a former school teacher in my area, no less. But, teacher or not, we all make mistakes in our writing. I know I do, even in these little blog entries. I correct them when I find them, usually after I publish them.
If ever you find an error in my writing, would you please be so kind as to let me know so I can fix it?
(Funny… at the table across from me, I spy one of my neighbours, another former teacher. I bet she knows the author. I will ask her later and edit this to update.
UPDATE: I greeted her and asked if she knew the author. Indeed she did. That made me smile. I love my little town.)
I won’t say who the author is, out of respect and to protect her reputation. My point, though, is: don’t people care anymore about good writing? Rare is the book I read that allows my poor red pen to have a complete rest.