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Colonel McCormick would be pleased

There has been some inflamed Twittery among copy editors since @APStylebook posted yesterday, “We have some new Stylebook entries to announce. No.1: It’s drive-thru, as a noun or an adjective.”

Of course, a flame among copy editors is not that hard, gemlike thing that poets give off or the Fawkes-like bonfires of the peeving class, but rather a sputter that quickly gutters.

Thru for through has been a pet of spelling reformers, among them Col. Robert R. McCormick, who imposed his own collection of simplifications on the Chicago Tribune for many years. The spelling has long since caught on with the sorts of businesses that you see along the highway (some, of the “Kozy Kitchen” variety, also given to substituting k for c), and New York has its Thruway.

It will be interesting to see who pays attention to this latest diktat. There are copy editors who await the proclamations of a new edition of the stylebook as if it were a papal bull. And there are copy editors who view the stylebook’s strictures much as Duke Bernabo Visconti of Milan regarded the bull excommunicating him in 1371—he made the legates delivering the bull eat it, parchment, lead seals, and all.

My guess is that accepting or rejecting drive-thru will hinge on how downmarket you’re willing to look.


A note to my readers: I’m aware that we’ve been down to seeds and stems on the blog this week—very busy at the plant and campus, and with two separate freelance projects. I’m hoping to get back up to speed.


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