1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Singeing

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Elgaisma, Sep 7, 2010.

    Is it forever going to be mistaken for singing and should I replace it with scorching?

    I have just used a similar line in a short story no-one could work out why

    They all mistook it for singing.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Singe" is a good word. "Scorch" is, too, but "scorch" is stronger than "singe", I think.

    You could probably use "singe" in a way that it wouldn't be mistaken for "sing" if you say something like "He almost singed my eyebrows off with his denouncement."
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is that dyslexia on everyone else's part (a lot of people do that with less common words that look like more common ones anyways), or just the assumption you'd make the typo? I'd stand strong if you like your word choice, and roll your eyes at people who think you'd make it.

    Obviously if you think scorch is better, though, go with it. :p
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I prefer singeing both words work singeing just flows better. I am changing it in the short story as it is the first line but it is on page 122 of my novel so it's not like it is going to stop people reading like it would in the short story.

    I am torn of six people that reviewed the short story only one person didn't read singing lol and three had to check it was a word. I wondered if them being American had an impact or not I don't know.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Singe" is a perfectly good word and it isn't all that rare. If it sends them to a dictionary, good! Let 'em learn!
    :)
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    my concern is it is not sending them to the dictionary but they are assuming I have made an error.
     
  7. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'm American, and I would read that as the word you meant, so either I'm just smarter than the average American or that may not be why people are making the mistake. ;)

    I think it's fine the way it is, but if you're concerned about people misunderstanding/thinking you made a mistake, I would change it.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    oh gosh I get more torn now lol So far no Brits have misread it but my American husband is now added to the list of people who need slapping:) However hmm this board seems slightly brighter.

    I am very torn between head and heart on this one.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you're careful with your writing, and they read dozens and dozens of pages that don't have errors, why would they think you made an error? By writing correctly and spelling correctly, you build up a kind of authority, so that if an unfamiliar word comes along, they shouldn't automatically assume you made an error.

    If every page you've written is full of mistakes, then you haven't earned that authority, and they'd be justified in assuming that you'd made another mistake.

    So write well!

    :)
     
  10. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wasn't especially thrown but at the same time I will say that 'eing' words always slightly disturb the flow of my reading. They just look awkward (to me).

    I wonder too whether singe - as commonly used and understood - is strong enough for your purpose?

    ' You've burnt my essay!'
    ' Nonsense, dear boy, it's merely singed.'

    etc etc
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    while of course either can be used there, i think many who don't confuse the word with 'sing' [myself included] may see your choice of 'singe' as trying too hard to be different... instead of smoothly describing the matter to the reader, that one word sticks out like a sore thumb and gets in the way...

    i'd advise losing it there and using it differently elsewhere, if you simply can't live without it...
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wasn't actually trying to be anything until I was editing my novel didn't realise I'd used it. It does fit better than scorching because it is less severe. It's not I can't live without it and need to use singe elsewhere I just like the flow of the phrase, it is still a head and heart situation.

    I know singeing works better in terms of flow and meaning for what I am after but scorching is easier for others to understand. Part of me feels after more than half the novel maybe Minstrel is right people who are ignorant of meaning can go and look it up:)
     
  13. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would replace it with scorching so there can be no confusion.

    On reading the title of the original post I thought it was a spelling mistake.

    Seeing the word in the context of a sentence, it became clear that the word in question is singeing. but I had to read the sentence a couple of times to grasp this.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate to say people I don't know are, perhaps, less literate but ... the subconscious mind tends to proof edit when you read. Singeing being an unusual word for most folks, and outside their normal, everyday vocabulary, their subconscious may well be correcting that as they read to be 'singing'. I doubt anyone here would have that problem but in the general population it could well be an issue. I once read that the mark of an intelligent person is to be able to communicate with anyone of any intellectual level. I detest the policy of dumbing down to the lowest common denominator but, perhaps it is better to avoid the problem and change the word in order to communicate with the reader?
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks I have taken the decision to change it in the short story and leave it in the novel. The first sentence is not a good place for it. I think the sentence in the novel benefits from it, unless I change it to hot lava reference will leave it. My main characters favourite phrase is volcanic, but this is coming from a judge so felt it should feel more controlled.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, but I concur with this completely. The responses I have read to the tune of, "I get it, if no one else does, bugger them!" border on irresponsible replies.

    And by border, I mean cross the line all up into the land of irresponsibility.

    Your goal is to get your point across to the reader. Your goal is also to keep your reader captivated. Notice that the root for captivate is captive. You want your reader all to yourself in the little world you have created. You should be jealously guarding that the reader not show any sign of defection off into dictionaries or thesaurus..s (thersaurusi?)

    Maia is completely right in that the use of the word where you have used is in no way wrong, but it does make for a speed-bump of sorts. Your highway of words should be like the autobahn! Open, clear, and smoothly paved so that your reader can sail smoothly across.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Figure even if I do leave it in it probably won't get past an editor if I manage to find a agent or publisher so have left it for my own enjoyment for now. Highly doubt if every other word flows like an autobahn up til that point and after it will harm my chances with an agent or publisher.

    I have also left behemoth and cloistered both words people have struggled with. With those exceptions the words are all very easy to follow.

    I am not really expecting it to make it into a published work but it really is the best word:) It fits very well with Angus's usual descriptions of people being angry of him but it is more subdued which fits with the particular scene. I tried the alternatives and given the seriousness of the rest of situation they didn't sit so well.
     
  18. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    To refer back to your original post, I do not think either sentence flows.
    I would look for an alternative word or reconstruct the sentence.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    fyi, there's really no difference at all between scorch and singe... they both mean to burn superficially and are completely interchangeable in that context... if you want a word that would be slightly weaker than 'scorch' you could use 'sting'...
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am looking for refined in sound and look rather than weaker in meaning, scorcher is slightly stronger in sound than singeing. Stands out more in the text because of the shape of the letters. It is an incredibly serious scene.
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about "His words singed"?

    You mean the mighty Thesaurosaurus, the pre-historic beast which confused the tiny brains of its prey by using big words against them? :p
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ooh love it Islander off to change things to fit it in, I would up your reputation but already done it this morning. Ta for that it is extra perfect.
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says that "singe" means to burn "lightly or superficially". Those qualifiers are not used in the definition of "scorch". And "scorch" is stronger in common use, at least where I grew up (in Canada).
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    thats how I see it minstrel for me scorch produces big black marks whereas singe is redness. Given he is getting his backside kicked metophorically heat induced red works better than black as an image:)
     
  25. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Stinging words of criticism

    harsh rebuke of my conduct

    his words were a slap to my ego

    his sharp tongue left its mark upon my pride


    These are a few suggestions that are a bit milder than:


    The unrestrained, volcanic, elemental fury of his raw scorn scorched my naked soul to smoldering ashes, that crumbled to the floor before his desk.
     

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