4 comments on “Snobbishness in writing

  1. Aly Hughes says:

    (haha, I am really glad about the discussion aspect! Also, even if you were having a go at me, I wouldn’t have blamed you. 😉 )

    Although it’s an obvious comparison, writing is a lot like speaking. When you used the example about teens passing a note, each with a distinctive style of writing, it definitely made me think of people communicating with different accents and dialects. It’s like the stereotype about people with southern accents being less intelligent. Or that if someone uses California slang then that means they’re a beach bum. It can even go the other way. If you speak clearly and use lesser known words, people can view you as pretentious, or stuck up, even if you’re only choosing the most appropriate word for what you want to say.

    Going through the English Literature program at college, I discovered that I disliked about 95% of the people in my major because they were absolutely awful about being snobbish and conceited. It was actually then that I started to try to take the snobbishness out of myself, but admittedly some of it still lingers, and always will.

    (Also, I sound like a Valley Girl when I speak, high pitched voice and all. A lot of people have assumed that I’m an airhead because of it. I generally ignore those people.)

  2. I sometimes have some small issues with the spell checker on this thing adjusting some words and then I think I’ve miss typed and delete it. With that in mind, prior to a quick read through it said I was having a go at you!

    I thought the teenage conversation was an easy communication example people can relate to but it amounts to a similar thing in writing. That is not to say I’m perfect because I’m far from it, but it’s an exercise in perspective and self evaluation, if you like. I had to look up what a valley girl accent was / is. Would that be like the sort of thing in “Clueless” ? I see you point!

  3. derekberry says:

    I think the idea of a “literary writer” is purely referential. Literary compared to who? Does a poem have literary value only if it adheres to specific, traditional rhythms and rhymes? I don’t think so, and I think the same idea can be applied to stories and novels.
    There is this change in what are commonly referred to as “genre novels,” that these novels which originally were intended for pure pulp fun have now garnered much literary attention. Fantasy novels, spy novels, super hero comics– all of these forms of stories can contain literary aspects and solid themes. Most of what is deemed “literary” is merely pretentious, plot-less ramblings on the meaning of life. A truly great writer can have a fast, engaging plot AND themes which can affect the reader.
    A lot of writers write in slang, yet write very effectively. Just because the language is lowbrow doesn’t mean the content of the story is. I mostly write in the voice of teenagers so sometimes what I say may not be grammatically correct or formal. But what they might have to say can still be very significant.
    As far as grammar snobbery goes, we are only correct in our grammar because someone else tells us we are. Grammar exists only because we have agreed that certain syntax signifies certain ways we should read into words. Even word meaning itself is dependent on our own agreement that the word means something. Shakespeare made up hundreds of words, but he’s still called a genius. What is slang spelling today may be the official Webster dictionary spelling tomorrow. The arrangements of words exist only so we can fully understand each other, but if another way of saying something, even be it grammatically faulty, is beautiful and euphonious, why not say it in such a way?

    • mrbrainsplat says:

      Hi, thanks for the large comment. I had to re-read this post to get back to what I was referring to. I think the idea of the “literary writer” is one that many people have even if they have not given much thought to what that means, or as is often the case, not even the material they enjoy reading. Perhaps this is because it is often taught in schools as the level to reach but the point is often more about grasping a decent understanding of grammar, syntax, and style, prior to using it whatever way you want to. Although that said, it largely depends on the teacher. – It also seems to be referred to by some writers trying to sell a book on writing which was where the comment that first annoyed me came from.

      Once you start grasping a better idea of what you are looking at, which most people interested in writing do, then (as you pointed out) it is just a question of how you use it with some comparison against what the rules and meanings are of the time.

      Most things we can consider art are all shades of grey. One periods s**t piece of art, is tomorrows masterpiece, and so on.

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