Checking in

minnow at minnow at
Thu Jan 22 13:56:49 EST 2004

widdy wrote:

>Just checking in that I've not been bumped off the list. We've been
>awfully quiet. I know I've been swamped with work.

I've collected 87 whole posts in January, 4 of them (including yours) since

>I'm noticing some patterns in Rowling's writing that I don't like.
>Most specifically, she commits the "sin" of using the same word too
>often, too close together. I don't have a specific example

Time to employ the sortes method, methinks.

<goes downstairs and invades daughter's room>

<finds random HP book under bed>

<selects a random page number using dice, mice and other arcane methods>

<opens book at page selected>

P 432 of HP&TGOF has five mentions of 'merpeople' and two of 'merperson' in
five paragraphs, is that the sort of thing you mean?  I assume (not having
read the book) this is set underwater clearly enough for it not to need
quite so much rubbing in, particularly when we also get a "mer-version of a
village square". On the following page they are all "mermen" or "a merman"
after the first "merpeople" near the top of the page....  It does seem
slightly like a verbal tic.  The second "merperson" of p.432 feels
definitely otiose; the statue has just been said to be of a merperson, so
why say it again in the very next sentence?  "Four people were bound
tightly to its tail" would have done, without repeating that it is stone
and it represents a merperson, I would have thought...

Is that the sort of thing you mean?  Not letting a notion be taken-as-read
but repeating it every few lines to make sure the reader's attention hasn't

But do I not recall that when this tendency to repeat effects was mentioned
as a flaw in Potter, the defence was immediately put up that it was a
deliberate writerly ploy of some sort whose technical name for the moment
escapes me?  It doesn't read to me particularly like deliberate anything,
but I suppose it could be.  Can't remember whether that defence was in this
list or not, and I'm not going to hunt around looking for it, I'm afraid.
If whoever put it forward is here, maybe it'll get repeated (I hope...
don't want to be unfair and unreasonable, or no more so than usual).

Non-male merpersons don't seem to be merwomen or mermaids, I notice; the
only one who appears is called "the chief merperson, a particularly wild
and ferocious-looking female".  I slightly wonder why, even if not
mermaids, they shouldn't be merwomen to go with the mermen.

(OK, I admit I cheated and went on to see whether it was consistant in its
use of the terms.)

On a different subject, and this isn't meant as a criticism of JKR in the
least, it just struck me as I was thinking about this:

A lake is mentioned as the setting, on p433.  So technically they ought not
to be mer-anythings, I suppose.  Can someone please tell me if there is a
proper word for a fresh-water-dwelling person?  Lorelei?  Do those have
male counterparts?

Minnow (wouldn't you bet I would get something underwater. Is there a lot
of underwater action in HP?)

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