I long ago professed love and appreciation for the semicolon. It might not be the most useful punctuation mark, and it’s certainly not the most emphatic. But it is the most optional, and that makes it interesting.
Headline writers love to pile up nouns to get as much information as possible into limited space. But many words in English are the same whether nouns, verbs or adjectives, often leading to ambiguous results.
That’s where the copyeditor comes in—when there is a copyeditor handy to come in.
Every profession has its hazards, some more serious than others. Professional drivers know that if they drive too long, they risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
Last week, a few examples of the hazards of being a professional copyeditor were on display. I don’t mean there were copyeditors charged with vandalizing public signs. Instead, there were cases of editors missing the forest for the trees and of editors judging harshly without thinking or researching.
It’s unlikely that copyeditors and and other word lovers escaped the release this week of Word Crimes, a grammar lesson in the form of a comedy song and video by “Weird Al” Yankovic. It showed up dozens of times in my Twitter stream. I was tagged on Facebook, got links through email discussion groups and read about it on LinkedIn. Several people suggested Weird Al ought to be invited to deliver the keynote address at an American Copy Editors Society conference.
We look at some big publishing questions in today’s News Roundup: Why are fraudulent authors allowed to keep publishing? What’s the problem with extending copyright protection? And why are university press books so expensive?
Copyeditor discussion forums often turn to ethical issues as copyeditors seek reassurances about their dealings with difficult situations. Copyeditors don’t have common coursework to draw on. We are former journalists, English teachers, college professors, lawyers, marketers and fresh-out-of-college wordsmiths. Questions of ethics feel different depending on where we come from.
With the final two games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup happening this weekend, the language of football (or “soccer,” depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on) seems to have taken over the planet. While copyeditors are known for loving new words, this sudden flood of footy talk can be a baffling experience.
Posting first, fact-checking after is no longer uncommon for journalists in the age of instant publishing, according to a new survey of international journalists.The survey found that 45 percent of journalists say that at least 60 percent of what they publish is done without checking facts beforehand.
The data-analyzing folks at FiveThirtyEight sought to assess where America stands on the Oxford comma, and the results told us very little. A survey of 1,129 people found 57 percent favor a serial comma when presented with a simple series and 43 percent said leave it out. Presumably, “I don’t care” was not an option.