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« Marked with the Cross of Literary Criticism | Main | Twain, James, Mencken, and the Colloquial Style »

· Write, Right, Wright, Rite ·

I'm up to my neck in homonyms today. I'm not, I confess, considering San Francisco-style weddings, or anything subject to pending constitutional amendment. Rather, as Shakespeare says, I'm giving myself to the marriage of minds, minds truly fit to the task of forming written words "stylishly." As I tell my students, it's a smart, fourfold task.

"Write, Right, Wright, Rite," I tell them. They get a kick, of course, out of my injunction since I can pose as a sadly repeating, redundant, reverberating punster. Whenever they all get around to asking what I mean, I simply say, "Check out my definitions":

  • Write, (rīt), v.t., to form or inscribe (words, letters, symbols, etc.) on a surface or screen, especially with a pen, pencil, or computer.

  • Right, (rīt), adj., specifically in accordance with fact, reason, or some set standard; being correct in thought, statement, or action.

  • Wright, (rīt), n., a worker, maker, creator; a person who makes or constructs: used chiefly in compounds, as, cartwright, or, even, word wright.

  • Rite, (rīt), n., any formal, customary observance or procedure, often expressly or implicitly religious.

Here I'll make my way straight to my principal point, which, if you think about it, is but the plain styling of a single sentence: Do Correct Work Religiously.

 · Jonathan Swift · Naturally, the full conversion of all workers to the work is at times difficult, though they do take to it when (with Jonathan Swift) they maybe see its sharp point: "proper words in proper places."

I should perhaps let you decide what our busy bee ("at right") is doing.


Ah, a writing bee! Is he a spelling bee, too? An editing bee? Would he add "playwright," please, to the examples of wright ?

Posted by Huldah Marguerite on March 9, 2004 02:49 PM

Of course!  And he'd add as Swiftly "millwright," "wheelwright," and "ironwright," being an ancient soul given — traditionally and naturally — to "sweetness and light."

Posted by
Styles on March 9, 2004 06:22 PM

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