A modicum of praise for hacks

When I tell my students that most of the work of a copy editor is to take texts that are flawed and leave them merely mediocre, they look faintly stunned. (I get that a lot.) 

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"Inappropriate" quotation marks

Another annoying journalistic tic: the single-word quotation.

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In a word: specious

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

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Joke of the week: "The Three Applicants"

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Zero tolerance? Yeah, that'll work

Modern frontiers in fatuity: Last week at Jim Romenesko's website, we learned that Chris Quinn, the content chief of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, was so incensed about the profusion of typographical errors at Cleveland.com that he announced a zero tolerance policy in a memo. 

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In a word: palaver

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

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Joke of the week: "The Burning House"

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It will never be over

Weary as you must be about the back-and-forth about the Associated Press Stylebook's abandonment of the over/more than distinction, I have found what may be a locus classicus of bad argument in favor of the superstition. 

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Count the peeves

Irregardless of the consequences, many writers start out without giving thought about the readers they are writing for. And that begs the question, what do they think they are doing? Hopefully, they only need a little help to better achieve their purpose. They are literally starving for that good advice which is readily available, the sort this site is comprised of. Some, of course, could care less about precision in language, they may be beyond help. But those who are anxious to improve their effectiveness will find myriad sites, such as this one, that center around issues of grammar and usage and will prove to be impactful. Everyone can improve their writing significantly by paying proactive attention to reliable authorities, which can lead to an OMG moment. 

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I know what I am, but what are you?

If you are on Facebook, you are aware that annoying features keep popping up inviting you to identify which Peanuts character you are, which Star Trek figure you are, what animal, vegetable, or mineral you would be, or the like.

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Wells of English defiled

Write about language, as about climate change or evolution, and what do you get? A strident chorus of denial. I wonder why.

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Just shut up about LOL

I advised you recently then when you read about someone complaining about the "dumbing-down" of English, just stop reading. That was incomplete advice.

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In a word: umbrageous

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

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Joke of the week: "The Birthing Class"

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Prayer in the secular republic

Returning from a religious service (let's omit the denomination), I described it to my college roommate, who asked, "Why do those people bother to be there? What's their purpose?" I answered, "I believe that their purpose is to mean well." 

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Easing the crotchet shortage

Now that the editors of the Associated Press Stylebook have abandoned the over/more than distinction beloved of American newspapers (and no one else), there is a very real danger that someone may heed them and abandon the baseless crotchet.  

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The cycle of doom

Blogging at The Spectator in tribute to the publication's chief sub editor (copy editor, for the American audience), Peter Robins, Fraser Nelson describes what happens when short-sighted managers cut back on the editing:

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Speak up

Those of you who have been frustrated by the creaky commenting software here at Baltimoresun.com may take some comfort in the news that new commenting software in being installed that should be considerably more user-friendly. I invite you to try it. 

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A renegade tells all

It's a dicey business to reveal the secrets of the brotherhood to the laity; look at what happened to Edward Snowden. But I step forward today to tell you that the people you would imagine to be most knowledgeable about English grammar and usage, English teachers and editors, are often ill-informed and sometimes startlingly ignorant of basics. 

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In a word: imbroglio

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

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Joke of the week: "The Birthing Class"

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Surrounded. Please send help

Every time there is a discussion about some detail of usage, particularly the sham ones, new "rules" and distinctions turn up that one has never ever heard of before. 

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It's over

Those of you who regularly visit Wordville will imagine the glee with which I dispatched this tweet last Thursday at the American Copy Editors Society conference in Las Vegas:

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Dumber and dumber

Let me share with you a handy timesaver: Whenever you see someone complain about the "dumbing-down of English," stop reading. Move along. Nothing to see there. 

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Editors have all the fun

The lights are about to dim for a couple of days at You Don't Say as I leave to frolic and cavort at the American Copy Editors Society's national conference in Las Vegas. (Vegas, baby!) 

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Somebody's listening

A while back I posted about some addlepated remarks about English usage being made in a conversation on Facebook by a friend of a friend, and was accused of violating her privacy. Yesterday, during the annual twitting of ill-informed people who refer to St. Patrick's Day as "St. Patty's Day," I was accused of stalking by one such person. 

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Joke of the week: "The Bad News"

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In a word: accidie

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

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ABOUT THE BLOGGER


John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers' work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun's night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.

JOKE OF THE WEEK