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Writers energised in error make pedants unhappy bunnies



Writers energised in error make pedants unhappy bunnies

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

Being a pedant is a bit like being a tennis player. Just one small error can topple you from the heights of euphoria to the depths of devastation.

For the professional pedant, the risk of plunging into despair is palpable every time you open a book. There you are, immersed in a fine novel, loving the characters, shivering at every plot twist, in awe of the skill with which the words have been woven together, when suddenly the writer uses a word incorrectly.

This is an unspeakably cruel thing to do to a pedantic reader. It’s as though you were chewing on the most delicious caramel toffee and then you get to a layer of decaying rodent matter that coats your tongue with rancid bitterness. The joy evaporates, your teeth clench and even though the rest of the book might be superbly written and error-free (or the rest of the toffee perfectly delicious, once the offending shreds of ground-up rat-bone have been sucked off it) you just can’t recapture that first flush of love...

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