Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A New Definition

I've been silent for the last few weeks as I mulled over a situation I've discovered.  What to do?  Rest assured it isn't going to go away and has been around for a long time but...

I read a poem. It was a very awkward poem and I could follow most of what the author was attempting to commit to paper.  BUT... There were a few lines which left me totally lost.  I didn't understand.  Even if in context or out of context, it didn't make sense.

He will come a rim.

Okay.  What does that mean?  A rim is an edge -- like a rim of a canyon, rim of a coffee can.  I looked it up in the dictionary.  An edge.

The word "rim" rhymed with another line but I have no idea what the image was being offered.

Later, I read a story. It was a really good story and I was into it when BAM!  I was slammed with a term I didn't recognize by the context being offered.  My first thought was I needed to look it up and see what other possible meanings were available.

A shoal of mermaids.

Ah, yeah. Exactly what is that.  My first thought, a misspelling but when it was used repeatedly in the story, I realized it was not a misspelling.  Every time I read "shoal" I was jerked out of the story.

For your information, there was another phrase which also jolted me and made me stop and think, huh?

Out of exasperation, I contacted the publisher of the story and explained I probably was a cranky old fart but I found the terms disconcerting and just plain wrong in their usage.

The publisher was kind enough to respond. (I really didn't expect a reply!)

He enjoyed the new definitions and imagery the terms brought to mind. He found an author who he felt wasn't locked into the ho-hum terms and created new slang.

Perhaps if the terms were used more by the general public before it was introduced into a story, it might not have been so bad.  That's cool.  I'm bad with a rad idea.  Those terms have been absorbed into the vernacular of our society.

Come a rim?  Shoal of mermaids?

Uh, not yet.  And they may never make it to acceptance and common usage.

My question -- Is this a good thing?  Are authors now empowered with the ability to create new definitions for words?  I know we can make them up to describe a new item... an aero-photon psionic distillinator.


Until next I ramble...

1 comment:

  1. You know, I don't mind being challenged by a writer, but I don't like being distracted by the writing. Phrases like this are too jarring for me. I'm old school, Bob. I like a phrase that paints a picture for me or takes me deeper into the story or poem -- not something that pulls me out of it.

    Nadine Feldman