Ah, Aw, Awe…Argh!
Onomatopoeia is a fancy grammar term for words that sound like what they represent. One class of onomatopoeia contains words like meow and bang.
Then, there are others that function as sound interjections and may or may not be found in the dictionary: ah/aah/aw or mmm/hmm/hmph.
These sound words give writers a particularly hard time, especially in the case of ah, aw, and the like because they all represent essentially the same sound. However, each one carries a slightly different inflection that changes the meaning.
We’re always looking for ways to bridge the gap between the way we speak and the way we write. Speech contains nearly unlimited options for intonation, pacing, and emphasis that we just can’t get from standard writing options.
So, we get creative.
Sometimes, those creative experiments work, and sometimes they don’t. You might use italics or bolding or even CAPS (often referred to as SHOUTY CAPS). We’ll save formatting options for another day, though.
Writers often use punctuation to create emphasis, specifically quotation marks. And for every writer who uses them effectively, there are what seem like dozens who do not. They end up using what is referred to as scare quotes.
So, where do they go wrong, and how do you avoid their mistakes?
Yay, Yea, Yeah
In this world of social media and texting, these three words have started to meld into one. But though they all essentially mean yes, they’re each distinct words with distinct pronunciations and nuances of meaning.
And while we can get away with carelessness in social media, which is essentially visible speech, in the moment and unedited, we need to be more intentional with our writing.
The goal is, after all, to communicate clearly with readers.
There are some pieces of punctuation that most of us have mastered. For example, it would be difficult to make it out of grade school without knowing how to use a period or a question mark.
However, our education tends to have a few more holes when it comes to something like semicolons. Many writers avoid using them altogether for one of two reasons: the writer finds them too formal and stuffy for their work, or they don’t feel confident in how to use semicolons correctly.
The first is just not true, and the second is easily fixed.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.