23 November 2012

The Unlikely Expert


by R.T. Lawton


Normally, I write a long blog article. Seems that it generally takes a lot of words for me to convey what's on my mind. Today's blog, however, is a short cautionary anecdote about the situation of becoming an unintended expert.
In the process of writing and editing another story in my Armenian series set in 1850's Chechnya along the Terek River, I paused over a Ukrainian word I had used in a couple of previous stories for a strong wine that the Cossacks made in their frontier villages. I intended to add some adjectives or other facts to go along with my wording about this wine, but needed to make sure I was correct in my description. However, rather than wade through several pages of my own background notes on Russians, Cossacks, Chechens and other peoples and their customs of that time period, I decided to take a shortcut and Google the word "chikhir" to see what more the experts had to say, which I could then use in my story.

To my surprise, I was my own expert reference. Some of the very few Google selections for that particular word quoted passages from two of my earlier Armenian stories and gave Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine as the print reference.

Just goes to show the power that writers have, therefore we must always take care to be correct in what we write on a subject, even if it's fiction.We never know when we might be the one quoted in the future.

I laughed so hard upon finding those references that my wife had to come into the study to see what was going on. Ah, well, humor is where you find it. I guess experts are too.

6 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Wikipedia can be good for a quick gloss-over, but I've seen it reshape some issues. I've watched a battle (and even chimed in) about the name of the Zulu language. The British, North American, and Afrikaner 'experts' all claim it's called 'Zulu', but in fact the Oxford Dictionary, Thesauri, and other sources here in South Africa (including Google) specify 'isiZulu'. It's only been in recent days that the Wiki 'experts' marginally relented to permit the actual name 'isiZulu' to be used.

Janice said...

How very cool!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

How very scary!

Fran Rizer said...

Congrats, R.T. I'm named in Wikipedia in reference to Callie's kindergarten cussing. Leigh posted it, but I can't remember the topic word. In any event, I'll bet finding yourself as a reference was a fun experience. My grandson is taking journalism this year in middle school and came home elated one day last week because the teacher asked if anyone knew a "real writer." When he said, "Yes, my G-Mama," his class Googled me, which gave Aeden a tremendous ego boost, probably comparable to yours. This post also proves that it's not how many words, but their value that counts.

Anonymous said...

Fran's also in UrbanDictionary.com

Robert Lopresti said...

Hilarious, R.T.

As a reference librarian I have been trained to ALWAYS check sources. If someone asks me how to spell CAT I go to a dictionary. But on occasion I have been asked about which presidents owned slaves and if you ask Google that question guess whose page comes up? Kind of weird to be citing your own work...