Monday, April 30, 2018

"Zounds!" Is No Longer in Common Use

Welcome, A to Z bloggers, visitors, and of course all my faithful regular readers! This year's theme for my A to Z:
Short & Sweet Reasons Why You Need an Editor


So without further ado . . .

“Zounds!” shouldn’t be in anyone’s dialogue anymore.

Hiring an editor can prevent you from having a modern-day character saying something that old-fashioned, and can also prevent you from having your heroine say, “That’s pretty cool,” in your novel about ancient Egypt.

We’re trained in various style books so we know that a novel will be edited and presented differently than a nonfiction academic journal. We know there are differences in how sentences are edited in the US v. the UK. We understand the rules and not only how to apply them, but why—and when they can be broken.

And we understand that word usage changes constantly.

One of the editing groups I’m in frequently has members asking, “If I say this particular word, what comes to mind? Please state your age and where you’re from.” A word often means something completely different in one part of the world than another, and a decent editor knows it. We follow the language, not just the rules.

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For those of you who made it all the way to Z with me, thanks for stopping by so often! Here's hoping I'll continue to see you here in the coming months.

16 comments:

  1. I somehow don't think I have ever heard this word. Someone questioned if the word "nerd" was in use in the 1980s, as the word appears in my 80s-set diary novel. I can recall the word being used then, and that "Revenge of the Nerds" came out in 1984.

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    1. The only time I can remember rubbing up against this word was when Popeye said it. I was a kid in the 50s watching cartoons made in the 30s. Nowhere else, though it must have been mainstream enough at some point to work in the mass media of cartoons. I think Lynda might have been reaching for this one ;~)

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    2. Jamie, I can't believe someone questioned you about "nerd." That one's been around for a long, long time.

      "Zounds" is one of those words I can only imagine a Sherlock Holmes type saying during a moment of sheer amazement and surprise, and it's ridiculous enough that I had to use it. Jack, you busted me on this one. Old enough, too (the word, not Jack), dating back to the 16th century with its origin being "God's wounds"—basically an oath or curse word at the time.

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  2. Nothing pulls you out of a story faster than a slang or other word that just doesn't fit.
    I guess zoinks would only work for the 70's and Scooby-Doo?

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    1. I love the word "zoinks" and would have used it, but "zounds" just sounded so much more dated. And Scooby-Doo is always cool, no matter what the era, so "zoinks" and "jinkies" will always be current in my heart, lol.

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  3. Congratulations on making it to the end. Ze end, as Pepe LePew (sp?) might say.

    One advantage of staying with one whole story. At least until you're finished, if it's in the same time frame, you don't have to answer this question more than once.

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    1. YES! I have made it to Day 26 and am pretty happy about it. I did prewrite and preschedule my posts, so that took some of the load off during a season that's always busy with edits, wrapping up the school year, and everything else that spring tosses my way.

      I know of some who were writing their posts the day before, and who understandably couldn't keep up. That's a tough way to go about it. I got behind on visiting and answering comments, and I was prepared for it, so I can't imagine trying to wing it with the posts, too.

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  4. A couple of weeks ago, I watched The Black Dahlia, released in 2006, but set in 1947. I was jarred a bit upon hearing the expression "back in the day," which research shows didn't come into use until the 1990s.

    Reminds me of an old Hollywood story. Here's one version of the tale, from newsok.com: Columbia chief Harry Cohn once stormed into a writers' conference and yelled, "Do I have to do everything around here?" "What's the trouble, Harry?" asked Clifford Odets. "I may not be a college man," said Cohn. "But I know damn well that in biblical times, people did not go around saying,'Yes Siree, No Siree.' " The writers unanimously agreed. "Well, then, what's it doing in the script?" he asked. "Where?" asked Odets. Cohn slapped the open script down and pointed to a page. Odets nodded as he read, "Yes, sire" and "No, sire."

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    1. I would have thought "back in the day" was older. I always think of someone (usually looking like Mark Twain, of course), in a rocking chair, saying, "In my day . . ." but now I'm not so sure.

      I love the Harry Cohn story! Hahaha I would hate to be the person who had to tell him he was reading incorrectly. I wonder if they all just said they'd fix it so he wouldn't get too embarrassed and fire them.

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    2. And may I just say that you always know the best stories! Your blog's tagline should be "an anecdote for every occasion."

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    3. Thanks!

      And it's the exact wording of "back in the day" that's fairly recent. People used to say "back in the good old days" for a lonnng time. Maybe the new term was invented so nobody had to say "old." Bad word, y'know!

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  5. Hi Lynda - well done ... and zounds isn't bad, but not a word I'd use. Love the Harry Cohn story. I was interested to read you have different interpretations of the 'rules' for English and USA works ... good to know that - well done and it's good to have been around - cheers Hilary

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    1. It's funny how many differences there are in UK and US English. For punctuation, there's a lot of UK things I wish we'd adopt, because they just make more sense. But until then, I'll trust my Chicago Manual of Style to steer me in the right direction.

      I can't wait to see what your Z post is. You did it!

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  6. Makes me think of Tintin's 'Blistering Barnacles'!

    I enjoyed your posts, Lynda!
    They really got me thinking about the importance of hiring an editor.

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    1. You made it all the way to the end, Michelle! Thanks so much for catching up with all my posts in two humongous swoops. I may have to incorporate "blistering barnacles" into my everyday speech. It's just too fun to ignore.

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    2. I really enjoyed the conversation.
      I'm so glad that I tackled your posts in "two humongous swoops."

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