Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hook Me Up

I had my people contact Ellen DeGeneres (i.e., I submitted a message via her website). The purpose of said message was to convince her that I would be the perfect guest for her show. Have you heard of her show? I think it’s getting popular. 

It’s been two months, and her Internet must be down—I haven’t heard back. 

However, although appearing on her show would undoubtedly help with book sales, after what happened at one of my book signings, I am kind of relieved that the Wi-Fi in Ellen’s neighborhood is spotty. 

Here’s what happened: this lovely lady came up to me and asked if I had a trick to remember the difference between “continually” and “continuously.” Not only did I not have a trick to remember the difference; I didn’t really even know the difference myself. That got me thinking: What would happen if Ellen asked, “Jenny, how do you feel about the nominative absolute?” I imagine my head would start spinning around Exorcist-style.

I certainly don’t know all the grammar rules off the top of my head. But I am pretty good at knowing what I don’t know. For example, I just had to look up whether “backup,” “back-up,” or back up” was correct. (It’s “backup” for a noun or adjective and “back up” for a verb.) 

I honestly believe that, although it’s great to actually know proper spelling and grammatical rules, it’s equally or more important to be aware of what you don’t know and how to access the resources that will help you. (For example, there’s this great writing skills guide called Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares you might want to check out. I hear it’s life-changing.)

So I looked up the difference between “continually” and “continuously” and here’s the difference: 

Continually- of regular or frequent recurrence; often repeated; very frequent

Continuously- uninterrupted in time; without cessation

Therefore, I continually look up grammar rules. It would be impossible to look them up continuously. That would mean that I never stop—that I even look them up in my sleep. 

However, what if there was a Matrix-style contraption that fed me grammar rules in my sleep? Then, I would be totally ready for Ellen.

Will someone get on that?


Mark said...

Yes but also if there was some matrix style hook up that would put all the grammar rules in your brain then there would be no need for your book and no appearance on Ellen. To remain on Ellen you would have to be the person who invented that technology and assured that no one ever made a grammar mistake again.

You would be my hero and I would build statues and churches in your honour if you did.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Best that Ellen never got your message. She would have only hit on you. ("Hook Me Up". Be careful what you ask for.)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Shelly said...

I'm thinking you should shoot higher than the Ellen show. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon...this could even turn into a late night Missed Periods show.

Jaya J said...

i love Ellen. had a girl crush on her for the longest time :)

Genskie said...

It would be great to see you live on Ellen's show.
This is a great post, I learned something new again. Thank you Jenny!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Excellent advice. Congrats on your book success!

the late phoenix said...

Ellen dances well, but i want to see Jenny dance on the show!

be like Socrates, be comfortable in the fact that you know nothing and are nothing, that's how i get through each day

Nominative Absolute, my next band's name...

Talli Roland said...

Hunh, I never really thought about 'continually' and 'continuously'!

If you find a Matrix thingy, please let me know.

Pearl said...

Knowing what you don't know -- and knowing where then to look for that information -- is the smart part. :-)

I'll call Ellen. Her and I are tight.

Greetings from Minneapolis,


Carol Kilgore said...

Ha! I actually knew the difference between continually and continuously. But I don't know jack about hyphens. No matter which way I go, it's wrong. Ask my proofreader. She'll confirm :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Oh...and sorry about the Ellen thingie .

anthony stemke said...

Say it isn't so Jenny. Continually and continuosly are fairly common words. But that's ok, everyone has something in their field that they may not know.
I couldn't get to Long Beach to see you, but if you go on the television set, I hope you alert us because I would watch it to see you. Boy,that would be a thrill, you conjugating words or declension or whatnot.

Sara said...

As I've been going through my editor's edits this week (tedious/boring/gnashing teeth/rending garments) I've been noticing how many words that I would hyphenate are apparently only one word these days. Or, rather, they have become one word. Maybe back-up and back up have always been hyphenated or two words, but I am noticing that some words that used to be hyphenated are now one.

Of course, I immediately thought of the goddess of grammar and I wondered what you think of this trend?

Here are some examples: nonprofit, relive, (as in to relive an embarrassing experience), coed (Is it just me or does that look better hyphenated?) tubalike (ditto), midflight (ditto)...I could give you a thousand more examples. Maybe I'm a hyphen addict, but would love to have you weigh in on how language/grammar isn't always static and what to do if you don't like how it's evolving.

And yes, as I'm editing, I find myself referring to my copy of "Missed Periods" frequently. It's really helpful!

JDC said...

Been gone for a bit and come back and you have written a book 0_0 Wow impressive.

Theresa Milstein said...

Ellen is really missing out.

I thought I would be learning about continually vs. continuously, but there was so much more. Now I know to take backup when I need to back up out of a bad situation.

theater-goer said...

Like Julie Andrews in one of my least-favorite musicals, now I don't feel so bad. I am constantly looking up the difference between "continually" and "continuously" because I haven't been able to think up a decent mnemonic (do you know this one? To remember the difference between "discreet" and "discrete," the first means keeping your yap shut and the second one means "one entity separate from the other." You just look at the "t" between the two "e's," which makes the "t" discreet.) As for Ellen, if she hit on you, Portia would doubtless dump spaghetti sauce on her head--and Ellen would never put you in an uncomfortable position! Bill Maher, on the other hand would have no problem, and he'd surely hit on you. Being on Ellen's show would be great--how the word would spread!

James Garcia Jr. said...

Ha! You're awesome! Now that's the Jenny that I have missed these long weeks without blogging. How are you, my captain? I have been away far too long, my friend. Thankfully, I have now emerged from writer's cave. My new book is done and has joined it's older brother on Amazon.com, and I am free, free, free.
Too much?
Have a great week.


Wendy Ramer said...

I hope you get on Ellen's show. That would be "festive" (as my 11-yr-old daughter says). I'm going to email you now about a grammar point that your readers probably don't give a hoot about :-)

DWei said...

I wish I could study continuously but I continually get distracted by the internet.

Holly Vance said...

Honestly, I don't think Ellen is ready for you!