Nearly three years ago, I wrote an article for this newsletter titled “The Case for Singular They.” [See our October–November 2012 issue. –Ed.] I took what I felt was a controversial stand, arguing that if a writer wants to use singular they, we should let them. Although it still may be a controversial stand, it seems that we may have reached a tipping point in the argument about gender-neutral pronouns.
Last week, I introduced the idea that copyeditors need more than a pedestrian understanding of grammar and that what we got in grade school is sorely outdated. This week, I look at some features of modern grammars and some good resources for catching up with the times.
When I hear a copyeditor quoting a zombie rule, such as “don’t split an infinitive,” I cringe.
Editors are not linguists or lexicographers. Neither, though, are we untrained speakers. We are professional communicators, and as such we should have more than a pedestrian understanding of language and how it works. We can’t rely on what we learned in sixth-grade English class to get by.