When I left the copy desk and set up shop in the guest bedroom, Twitter became my virtual office. I’m never a few clicks from my copyediting cohort on Twitter. It provides ongoing education in writing, word usage, and the craft of copyediting. And whiskey.
The American Copy Editors Society annual conference is 10 days away, and it will be informative, invigorating and enjoyable for hundreds of copyeditors honing their skills and making connections. I’ve been to six ACES conferences (which is not a great many among conference regulars) and three or four similar conferences.
National Grammar Day is hard to contain in just one day or within the borders of one nation. Of course, every day is grammar day to a copyeditor
National Grammar Day is March 4, easy to remember because it can be said as “march forth,” which is a sentence in itself with imperative verb and implied subject. Of course, “march fourth” also is a sentence, theoretically useful for establishing the order of bands in a parade.
One of the signs of maturity in an editor is the realization that she imposes different sets of “rules” depending on the client’s preference. There are few indisputable rules, the editor realizes, as she is exposed to more and more sets of preferences.
Today, National Grammar Day, is a day to celebrate the language we share, its structure and its quirks. Along with the grammartinis and grammar-themed baked goods comes an old debate over how much we should meddle with the language.
It's a tiresome debate, between prescriptivism and. descriptivism, a battle between two straw men. It’s not a real debate, because as with many areas of dispute, no one really subscribes to the absolutist view they are accused of holding.
Whither the subjunctive? The subjunctive mood is what we use—what we sometimes use—when we are expressing what is possible, what we wish to be true or imagine to be true but is not. If it is true, the mood is not subjunctive.
The thing is, not everyone uses it, and most people are OK with ignoring it in casual writing. The subjunctive may be going the way of thou and thither and whence and whither.
There is something safe about the simple form of haiku. Structure can give the poet freedom, a simple structure especially so. Free verse forces the writer to create the rhythm as well as the words. Haiku forces us into a familiar pattern, one that is fairly easy to exploit.
It’s unclear when or why the words tussle and tousle divided into different meanings. A tussle is a physical struggle that suggests shoving and pulling. When you mess up someone’s hair, the word is tousle. If you’ve tussled with police breaking up a language debate that got out of hand, your hair might end up tousled. The words are close cousins, but for some reason we have two spellings for similar concepts.