Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In Which We are Introduced to a Help and Your's Truly Rants (because she can)

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because when someone speaks to me, my brain often brings up the 'processing' symbol. This gives the incoming message adequate time to drift to the bottom of my mind and settle there in the dust like an awkward relative or bad meat -- just waiting to resurface and demand attention. I smile vaguely at the speaker and pretend to me making words. 

Later, sometimes months, the thought comes back. 

At this point it is usually so covered in fluff and nastiness that it is altogether unrecognizable. Subsequent to this untoward transformation, the thought is rebirthed through my mouth as my own, leaving me to spout lines of eloquence that sound oddly familiar. This can be a problem. Particularly when one is composing an email and unconsciously throws in portions of the Gettysburg Address as one's own, or drafting a presentation on the rising cost of pet maintenance and says something clearly reminiscent of Kendall Crolius' Knitting With Dog Hair (Utterly, deadly serious.)

Call it a character flaw if you will, however unintentional. 

And yes. Above is a shameless blurb for Grammarly. (which has way more than just the plagiarism checker.) It is truly dead useful. Like a teacher in your pocket. But in a non-creepy sort of way. 

It also makes a nice transition to the topic of plagiarism in general, wouldn't you say? 

As an unfortunate expert on the subject, I would argue that plagiarism is virtually impossible to avoid. Even to go so far as to propose that the best work in the world smacks of plagiarism (including on that list the works of William Shakespeare and the dazzling Disney). 

Oh, yes.

Many of their ideas had all been used before, and discarded as insignificant. But there is an insurmountable difference between these creators and the grungy high school student who carelessly pulls their essay on Orwell's 1984 from a shady crevice of internet slime.

You likely already knew that Arthur Brooke wrote The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet in 1562 (before Shakespeare). And it is self-evident that Disney did not single-handedly establish the fairytales, despite what they'd like to think. But those ideas had grown so big and so changed from their start -- and their authors were dead (it tends to help)-- as to be owned by the public. But they passed them off as their own and earned something from them. And we love it. This kind of plagiarism is exciting and enlightening and beneficial to the public. It takes something and seeks to glorify it rather than douse its brilliance and suck the energy from its previous life. And it never, ever, quotes word for word without credit. 

We readers aren't dumb.

So no. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT OKAY TO WRITE WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS WRITTEN AND SAY YOU DID IT. It is a disgusting occurrence when accidental and absolutely revolting when intentional. 


(Phew! Sorry guys. Don't know where that rant came from. Maybe it's the snow? Best wishes for driving if you're experiencing the same winter blast and many envious glances if you're somewhere warm -- excepting the devil's palace, of course. Regardless, find a good book to devour whatever your situation.)

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