Before I begin, let me just say that I love words. I love languages! I cannot imagine anyone who disliked them ever enjoying the art of writing, let alone attempting to make a career out of it. That doesn’t change this confession: I totally flunked English/Grammar in school. I know, not the best way to promote myself as an author, but it’s the bare-bone truth.
I already mentioned never taking writing courses in my Scattered Pieces post, so where did I learn to write? From reading, research and practice. Ever since I was a young teen, I would always consult a dictionary and/or thesaurus whenever I ran across a word I didn’t know – unless, of course, the sentence made it self-explanatory. Since I was reading the Queen of Fiction (Anne Rice) at age 14, that dictionary got used A LOT! Even to this day, I have two dictionaries and a well-used, missing-its-front-cover thesaurus at hand whenever I read. The greatest part about a thesaurus, or at least mine, is the section in the back dedicated to abbreviations, acronyms and foreign phrases. Believe it or not, I use those areas just as frequently as the main index.
More than anything else, while writing, I use Dictionary and Thesaurus.com. I should own stock. I should own stock in Folgers Coffee and Post-It, too, but that’s a whole other story. The point of this entire mess is that I find myself learning more about grammar today than I ever did in school. Take this morning for example: I’m using, not just a foreign word, but an Old Norse-Germanic word, and I want to know everything about it. I soon find myself facing a table dissected into these categories: Singular/Plural/Definite/Indefinite/Nominative/Accusative/Dative/Genitive… I can already feel my temples beginning to ache.
So, I break it down. S/P – got it, no problem. However, I had to refresh my memory on the different grammatical noun cases AND yes, the difference between Definite and Indefinite. The problem is that D/I only seems to matter in the case of articles and the word I’m looking at is a Proper Noun. Then, I have to take into account the fact that it’s old, its foreign and therefore, English grammar may not imply. Or does it?
This is my current conundrum, folks… If you’re writing an English (American) novel that uses some foreign nouns, do you follow the rules of English grammar or the grammar belonging to the noun? Huh? Anyone? That wasn’t a hypothetical question, honest.
Grr grammar, just grr.