Sunday, December 14, 2008

High Quality Dufus

Something has been bugging me for awhile, and I can no longer contain myself.

Recently I received an award -- SUPERIOR SCRIBBLER -- that sounded like faint praise to me. In fact it seemed more like an oxymoron [i.e., oxy-MORON] than anything else. Like giant shrimp.

I accepted the award in the spirit it was given -- acknowledgment of my writing as not bad for a white woman older than dirt. I have since profiled two of the four [now five!] bloggers who nominated me because I consider them among the best of the writers I read on the web. [The other two are just as good, but you'll have to wait for their profiles another time.] I haven't posted my own five nominations yet, because the name of the award is such that I don't want anyone to think I'm insulting them -- a real possibility, since that often seems to be Mrs. Linklater's mission in life.

But back to my conundrum about the award. A scribbler has never been someone to admire in my book. Often the word scribbling is used in reference to the efforts of small children to copy an adult's handwriting. They aren't actually writing anything, only pretending. Fortunately no words are harmed in the act of scribbling.

Scribbling has always been comparable, figuratively, to the sound and fury of an idiot -- a lot of random marks on the page -- signifying nothing. To call someone a superior scribbler simply takes scribbling, or meaninglessness, to new heights, or should I say, depths.

But maybe there was something I had missed along the way. Some new definition or colloquial use of scribbling that had escaped me.

Apparently not. To confirm my suspicions, I went to dictionary.com. And what was the very first definition I found for scribbler?

A writer whose work has little or no value or importance.

The second definition wasn't any better:

A person who scribbles.

So as a writing award, Superior Scribbler is not what it's cracked up to be.
Superior Scribe or Scrivener would be more accurate, since the former refers to a writer as a journalist, and the latter can refer to a writing master. But scribe sounds like a character from the movie, Front Page. And scrivener sounds like something out of Dickens.

I'm quite sure that using the word scribbler was unintentional, but it's still incorrect. Unfortunately when you track down the origins of the award on the web, it seems to be the invention of a teacher who didn't bother to check out its meaning. Surely she meant well. But the cynic in me wonders if this mistake is yet another testament to our inadequate school system.

So, while I was honored to be nominated as a writer who uses words in a manner that others may admire, I am somewhat disconcerted by the inappropriate name of the award. Not that life should be judged by your SATs, but if you're going to give a prize for writing, don't cock up the name for it.

And don't get me started on the kindergarten graphic used for the award. It's just way too precious for me. So you won't see it posted here.

P.S. That goes double for the Marie Antoinette Award -- a real person; a real award. I can find no reason on earth for such a bizarre writing award, since Marie Antoinette wasn't a writer. She certainly wasn't a blogger. Plus, her life was a study in excess and her death was really unpleasant. So WTF?

3 comments:

Des's big daddy said...

Yeah, but MA got to eat a lot of cake. No, wait, she wanted people to eat cake. Never mind.

I think it's pretty clear that the quest for alliteration won out over literal intent.

I've had other bloggers recognize my writing twice, and both times (this was back on AOL) all heck broke lose the next week. First was the ads, next was "the end". I am the Typhoid Mary of the blogosphere.

Remo said...

Geesh. With people skills like this I'm surprised you aren't working for the President.

In Venezuela.

You crack me up.

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