Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Emoji Was Just Named Word of the Year

Oxford Dictionaries just named its Word of the Year.

And they picked an emoji.

The "Face with Tears of Joy," as it is officially called, shouldn't look unfamiliar to you. It was the most used emoji of the year, and according to Oxford Dictionaries, it "best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015."

Now, that last claim raises its own questions and emoji eyebrows, but an easier question to tackle is this: What would it mean for the language we write if emojis counted as words?

Hint: It doesn't mean that you can insert a crying face in your next research paper.

But does it simply mean that Oxford was being too inclusive with their definition of "word?"

Maybe. Maybe not.

Part of why this Emoji was chosen is because it transcends languages. That ability makes emojis closer to art than words. Plus, how can you pronounce an emoji? By saying its official title?

I can already hear my ancestors saying this is another nail in the coffin of the English language.

But let's not be dramatic.

Languages can't objectively improve or degrade necessarily. They can only change. As long as effective communication remains possible, that change isn't good or bad.

Remember, this emoji is effective enough that it transcends languages, and it was also effective enough that it was used more than any other emoji. Like it or not, many writers are embracing emojis.

While this emoji is clearly useful, I doubt that many English speakers would call it a word. But no one person or dictionary gets to own the language. Only we, the speakers and writers, can do that.

So, what do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Go Global

When I say "go global," I'm talking about your writing. Global revision is a vital part of the writing process. The point is to think about the bigger picture. I recommend doing this type of re-vision with your earlier drafts so you can keep revisiting and reshaping them along the way. 

Try to read your draft from an outsider's perspective, and ask yourself these questions: 

Does this draft accomplish its purpose? 
Whether you're arguing, evaluating, analyzing, or narrating, make sure you're you've addressed the goal you had for writing the piece in the first place.

Is it appropriate for my audience?
Figure out who your audience is, and target your writing to fit who will be reading it. What information is your audience looking for?

Is the main idea clear?
What is your main idea? Make sure that it is easy to find and understand, and include all relevant information to fully explain it. 

Is there a logical order to the draft?
Are like ideas grouped together? Investigate why your paragraphs are in the places that they are, and make sure they allow readers to follow your writing in an understandable way.

Is there any information I'm missing, or that need to explain more fully, or omit?
Read through your draft to find places that your readers might need more information, a definition, or stronger examples. Don't be afraid to cut information that doesn't support your main idea. 

Are transitions clear?
At the beginning and end of your paragraphs, make sure you have clear transitions from one point to the next so your readers can more clearly follow your ideas.

These revisions help you more clearly portray your ideas and can be performed anytime throughout the drafting and editing process. While it may seem a little more intimidating to revise whole paragraphs and important thoughts rather than just a few punctuation or word choice issues along the way, know that continuous global writing and revision will help you shape your ideas and come to a more complete, concise understanding of what you want to say and how you want to say it.

So, don't be afraid: go global!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This May Get Rough

If you're anything like me, the term "rough draft" is frustrating--I want it to be perfect the first time! Instead, try seeing your writing as a "discovery draft." As you write and rewrite, you'll be able to learn more about your topic, including what you want to say and how you want to say it.

When starting your rough draft, know it's okay for it to be just that: rough. Be sure to start the writing process early to leave yourself enough time to create several drafts.

Talking to a friend, professor, or Writing Center consultant about your drafts is great way to keep focused and find insight from an outside perspective. An "outsider" can point out phrases or terms that may need more explanation for your readers. (If you decide to make an appointment in the Writing Center to work on your drafts, bringing your assignment sheet or prompt is a real help.)

If you find yourself becoming frustrated or hitting dreaded writer's block, walk away from your words. Take a break! A few hours away from your draft can clear your head and allow you to bring a fresh attitude to the next time you decide to tackle the writing.

Remember: if there's one thing to know about drafting, it's that multiple drafts are your greatest tool. Each draft allows you more time to think and revise, creating a clearer and more effective piece of writing. Now go--draft on!