Quirks of language

All of a sudden, I keep reading, seemingly out of nowhere, the word quirk or quirked to describe how people smile or even lift an eyebrow. I *think* these writers mean a small, quick, half smile, but the word quirk doesn’t give me a physical reference, so I am making this up. I should add, I’m not well actually-ing anyone. I’m not prescriptive; writing poetry gives me a way to torture language anyway I like to get to something unique. It’s only that quirk stood out to me recently. It distracted me from the narrative, because while thinking quirk of fate, it sent me looking at dictionaries that say this:

In contemporary English, the verb quirk is most often used in referring to facial expressions, especially those that involve crooked smiles or furrowed eyebrows.


Apparently, this use of the word isn’t very new, but I feel like it was seldom deployed and now it’s everywhere. Like trends in naming conventions for novels, word use ebbs and grows. I put it down to yet another quirk of this immense, sprawling, evolving language, full of multiple words, and word order for every single thing. And then some.

Pexels provides no image for quirk, (because it isn’t concrete) so you get this instead.
One of the quirks of WordPress that I really dislike is I can’t centre this text. It’s centred in my draft, I publish and it undoes it.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

And another thing:

I keep seeing the word genre used to indicate format. Frankly, this gives me more problems than descriptors like quirk. Short stories are not a genre, they are a format. Poetry, likewise, not a genre. Genre indicates the style and the content. Format is shape. Theme is what the format and genre are used to talk about. This is high school English / literature stuff. But to provide a concrete example, let’s take, entirely not at random, Centennial by James A Michener (a huge sweeping tale I read as a teenager, in the quiet time before social media).

Genre: Western (based on location, timing, characters, challenges, the lives described). You could also consider it a historical novel, because Westerns are often set in (a particular version) of the past. Genres can be combined.

Format: novel (all 900 bloomin’ pages).

Theme: place / family and change over a lot of time.

The writing update

  • Publications/ acceptances: 10
  • Pending: 32
  • Rejections: 65

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