Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Similes, Collective Nouns, and Wordsy

Collective nouns can be a source of confusion. The rules for when you use a singular verb rather than a plural verb for the action of a group are pretty clear-cut for direct action but seem muddy when you are talking about emotions or thoughts. British and American usage rules are different, as well. I ran across a helpful page at an ESL site. It explains the guidelines for using collective nouns. There is also a list of links at the bottom to more sites.

There is also this lovely little page on similes. No, not smilies, similes – the ones that are as easily recognizable as Santa Claus. That was an obvious example, but the site gives some examples I would not have picked out. Pointing out that, “The weather was as wet as usual,” to paraphrase, technically counts as a simile. I had no idea.

Unfortunately, it only gives one example that does not contain the “as…as” construction. The definition given does explain the various ways of creating a simile but I think the page would have benefited from more concrete examples. They could have said, “She was deathly pale, like a well-bleached handkerchief.” Sentences using “like” instead of “as” tend to be wordier, more complicated comparisons but they still contain similes.

They also didn’t mention that the beginning “as” can be dropped. You could just as correctly say “She was quiet as a mouse” as “She was as quiet as a mouse.” One would also think that they would have linked to a page on metaphors. In fact, there is no page on metaphors at all. I suppose these are more quibbles than flaws in the site. After all, identifying similes (or metaphors) is not something you will be likely to do on a daily basis, nor is it critical to understanding the sentence. It’s just that I like to be thorough.

I was tipped to a new “Digg-like” link posting site called Wordsy that is specific to the written word rather than news. They are very open about basing their site on Digg’s model and customizing it to a different audience, namely readers. The site doesn’t look all that big yet, so it may be a place to get in on the ground floor to promote your fiction and your book-related articles and reviews. Their blog only goes back to March 23, 2007 but I didn't see any indication of how old the site itself is.

I have a few book reviews to which I would love to draw more attention. I was considering starting a Squidoo lens for them but I think I’ll submit them to Wordsy instead, just to see what happens. I read two or three books a week so if I can get some clicks through that site, I can write dozens more pretty quickly. And I can always start the lens anyway if I decide that it would help.