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Some time ago, I was asked which word was preferred as an adjective, optimum or optimal. Optimal seemed to my ear a slightly pretentious variant, but history and usage refused to bear me out on this. Optimum did come first. It’s a Latin word, but it doesn’t show up in literature until the 19th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED’s first reference is 1848, but a search of Google Books yields several early 19th century examples in scientific publications. Optimal, is simply a different suffix for the same word. It also comes into prominence in English in the 18th century. Both words seem to make the leap from purely scientific use around the turn of the last century. So, we can either...
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Most Recent Issue
As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, Copyediting is focused on the details, like:
- How do you decide where syllable breaks should be in a word?
- Should you use BC or BCE in copy?
- How can you make better use of Word’s Comment feature?
- What’s the difference between breaches and breeches?
This issue, you’ll also learn about structuring your editorial business to match your business style and making the most of professional email lists.
As we approach the New Year, take time to reflect on the details of what we do and plan for a successful 2014.
Other Recent Issues
With the arrival of fall often comes a desire to settle down and get serious. Maybe it's a leftover from our school days, not unlike my desire to buy lots of lovely office products in September.
Whatever the reason, the October–November issue of Copyediting takes advantage of that desire (for learning, not office products).
Charles Harrington Elster, a.k.a. the Grandiloquent Gumshoe, returns to our pages in our feature story, "The Curious Corporate Who." In it, he traces the usage of who to represent corporations and other nonhumans and wonders if it represents a shift in the language.
Elsewhere, we examine verb tenses, moods, and aspects; the acceptable (or not) use of plus as a conjunction; and the problem of new senses for old words
It seems there's a new story about publishers merging or newspapers laying off staff nearly every day. We know that copyeditors are the unsung heroes of publishing and, as such, are usually the first ones to be dismissed when budgets are tight.
But these news stories shouldn't scare us. While fewer copyeditors are working for traditional publishers, there are other opportunities out there for copyeditors willing to look. In this issue, we highlight two growing opportunities for copyeditors and help you make the most of them.
In this issue, you'll also learn how to deal with offensive language in copy, how to manage your time more efficiently, and how to choose between which and that.