With National Grammar Day on Wednesday, there was much talk of peeves: things that irk us, perhaps excessively. If we accept the evolution of language, we try to keep our grammatical peeves to ourselves, but on National Grammar Day, it seems we are given license to admit those things that have the effect of nails on a chalkboard.
Almost certainly in your career, you have edited work that was not ready for prime time. Whether the draft was still very rough or the arguments weak and shaky, you knew the author skipped a step somewhere, because the text was just not ready for copyediting. It may have benefited from a more comprehensive service called “developmental editing” that is meant to help an author improve his or her manuscript in a holistic way, and which should precede the copyediting phase.
Dori Maynard, who died this week at 56, was a champion of diversity in newsrooms, and therefore a champion of diversity in the broader society. She reminded us that our backgrounds affect how we see the world. She taught us that words matter because we don’t own them, that other people may see the words we use in an entirely different light.
The Associated Press Stylebook suggests treating none as a singular pronoun when referring to the absence of individual people or things: “None of us is perfect.” That’s a style choice consistent with what many consider good writing, but there is little to suggest that “none of us are perfect” is any less valid a construction.
Required reading for copyeditors this week is an excerpt in The New Yorker from a new book by longtime New Yorker copyeditor Mary Norris. The 6,775-word excerpt is a tantalizing glimpse at Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, due out April 6.
Vibrant organizations and vocal advocates focused on furthering the craft of copyediting exist throughout the English-speaking world, and many of the stars of the word world will converge on Toronto in June for the Editing Goes Global conference.
Many industries use special vocabularies (read jargon) encompassing words that Microsoft Word's built-in dictionary doesn't recognize. Fiction editing — especially science fiction and fantasy — can take "special vocabulary" to a whole new level, with many words that are entirely made up. It can be enough to make Word's spell-check feature almost useless.
A white paper is described by most dictionaries as an official or authoritative report, giving information and possibly proposing a course of action. It’s always puzzled me as a term, me being somewhat literal minded. If a paper is white, it is clean, a blank slate. Any paper providing information should be covered in black ink.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of white paper to describe an official report was in an 1899 newspaper article: