1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    verb confusion - is this correct?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mckk, Aug 11, 2012.

    Is it correct to write this?

    "Small windows dotted the walls..."

    A friend of mine criticised the fact that windows do not resemble dots. But then I know "dotting" can mean "scatter" - which the Oxford Dictionary agreed with me, with the example of "Churches dotted the countryside."

    However, I'm not sure windows can be "scattered" on the walls....

    I then thought to write it like this: "Small windows looked out of the walls..."

    Though windows cannot physically look, either.

    Are they correct? Which is better?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the first is correct and reads well, the second makes no sense...
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks mamma! Is "dotted" still ok if someone was walking down a street and describing the houses on the street, passing some of them on his way? My friend insists it's still wrong because "dotted" should only be used on objects that are at a great distance.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My response would be that Polka dots can be quite large. It seems a bit nitpicky to me, but then again, if the evoked image seems off to readers (or to you), it might be worth considering a different approach.

    I personally have no problem with your alternative. I was myself thinking of Small windows peered out over the street. It's not a bad metaphor, in my opinion, to have watchful windows, especially if that fits the mood of the piece.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog's version of the windows 'watching' works better than your original... it was the 'out of the walls' part that didn't make sense to me...

    as for your friend's opinion of the 'dotted' bit, i can't see that distance makes any difference... if the windows are small and there are enough of them to make 'dotted' appropriate, then seeing them that way up close works well enough for me...
     
  6. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    "Dotted" sounds, to me, like the windows are dispersed along the wall willy nilly (like the churches on the hillside). In reality, windows are stateful, they are part of the structure of a wall, they are integral. The description of windows as dotting a wall is surreal.

    I concurr that windows might be compared to eyes, a building's eyes, watching, peering :b, focussed, or glazed and staring, but dotting a wall? Nah.

    Furthermore, a defining feature of dots is that they are round. Windows, aside from some found at the upper-rear corners of some vans, are not round at all.

    Cheers,
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's true the "out of the walls" part is a bit clumsy, now that I look at it. I really like Cog's version so if you don't mind, I believe I'll take it! Thank you Cog and Mama :love:

    GHarrison, yeh the roundness of dots was one of the reasons my friend found it strange. And I did think about the random scattering of windows as a little off too. Thanks for the insight :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    dotted doesn't only refer to round dots... it also means 'scattered' and whatever's scattered/dotted can be any size/shape at all...
     

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