Hey everyone! I'm finally back from my Wrestlemania trip to visit a dear friend and now we can get back to more literary minded subjects. Since I don't have a long topic to expostulate on, I thought I'd do another Tidbits.
For those that missed the first one (click here!) this is a variation on the Knowledge Bomb segment where I address a few different things that pop up in my life but aren't worth individual blog posts. As always, I'll be citing my sources, so don't just trust me. With that said, let's take a look at a couple little tidbits of knowledge that can help your writing a bit.
1. Gray/Grey and Ax/Axe
This one is purely regional, but seeing as how I'm from the US and I see people in the US getting this one wrong, I wanted to share. A lot of people have been getting confused about whether to spell the word as "gray" or "grey." Now in recent years, both have become acceptable, but in general, if you're in the UK, it's grey (Gandalf the Grey) and if you're in the US, it's gray (Castle Grayskull.) This isn't a big one, but if you're looking to be more proper, you should probably default to the one appropriate to your side of the pond.
A big confusion for this likely arised from the book/movie "Fifty Shades of Grey," in which the spelling is for a proper noun, so it really doesn't matter.
Along those lines, especially because I went to a university with a lumberjack for a mascot, we have some confusion over "ax" and "axe." Likewise, these are becoming more interchangeable. Again, this is largely a matter of which side of the Atlantic you're on, as the UK favors "axe" and the US (more or less) favors "ax."
This one I really want to quash. Too often I see/hear people use this word to talk about how big something is. Please understand, enormous and enormity are not the same thing.
noun: enormity; plural noun: enormities
Yes, through misuse a lot of people are accepting enormity to mean something big, but it's original meaning is something heinous and morally reprehensible on a grand level. You can talk about the enormity of the holocaust, but you shouldn't talk about the enormity of your cousin Bo's Ford unless it was used to run down scores of people.
Okay, here's the top one for me. I know it's pointless, but I just have to try. Irony does not mean a funny coincidence. It doesn't mean something surprising. It doesn't mean something unfortunate. It means...
Yes. The use of words to express a meaning other than their literal intention. Now, there is dramatic irony, which is used in plays and, more recently movies, which is where you, the audience, have knowledge the characters do not that shows an incongruity between the actions of the characters and what's going on in the play. So... Romeo and Juliet. You know that Juliet is secret alive when Romeo kills himself (spoilers!), but they don't.
So... the Alanis Morissette song Ironic actually expresses no examples of irony... which I think some people try to say is, in itself, ironic. It's not. A thousand spoons when you need a knife is bad luck. Rain on your wedding day is unfortunate. Neither is ironic.
Irony, in general is actually a lot more boring that what most people think of. Sarcasm is a form of irony. You're using words to convey a meaning that's different from the literal meaning of those words. Also, bonus fact, it's only really sarcasm if the intention is malicious, otherwise it's just irony.
Well, I hope that helped. Feel free to debate me on these, I'm always willing to expand my sphere of knowledge, just make sure you've done the research.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.