Peeving not an entitlement

Rummaging online the other day, I came across a site of usage advice that said dogmatically that entitled is only legitimately used in the sense of "having a right to," not "having been given a title."*

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In a word: buncombe

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: "Appropriate Attire"

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The perspicacious Mr. Mencken

I neglected to offer you anything from H.L. Mencken yesterday on his birthday. So today, I will let you judge for yourselves how much this passage from "On Being an American" (1922) rings true today:

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You could have written shorter

For reporters, writing online must seem like admission to heaven. No space limits, no damn copy editor ruthlessly cutting forty lines of burnished prose to make it fit the page. Little interference from an editor, or even, bless us and save us, no editor at all. 

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Wait, wait, don't hang all the editors

Last month, as Gannett was being ridiculed for the fanciful job titles and descriptions it concocted for its "reinvented" and diminishing newsrooms, I joined in with some advice on how to proceed when you have been left hanging without adequate editing support. 

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The voice in your head when you read

When I was a graduate student, undergraduates who plagiarized often seemed surprised that they had been caught out. 

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In a word: celerity

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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Broad stripes, bright stars

As we prepare for the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore next week, a decent respect for historical accuracy demands attention to a few details. 

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What to say to peevers

A recent article in the Boston Globe by Britt Peterson, "Why we love the language police," along with comments it has prompted on Facebook and other venues, shows that some people have become dangerously overstimulated by the publication of N.M. Gwynne's Gwynne's Grammar. 

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Mirandizing the undergraduates

Today begins my twentieth year teaching copy editing at Loyola University Maryland (and, coincidentally, my twenty-eighth at The Baltimore Sun). This post, the latest iteration of my first-day-of-class cautions, is what the students in CM 361: Copy Editing, heard this morning.

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In a word: sublunary

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: "Muddy Ground"

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You're on holiday; I'm not

We're heading into a holiday weekend during which I will have the con through Monday, so I don't expect to be posting much. 

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My editor, my oppressor

You have heard of me. I operate the Dullatron. I drain the life from reporters' articles. I am a copy editor, determinedly extinguishing originality as I slap a coat of battleship gray over all that is fresh and imaginative. 

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Newsroom sinfonia concertante

Yesterday Jim Romenesko reported that in London The Times is playing a recording of typewriters in its newsroom, an experiment by the editor "to generate some of the excitement of newsrooms." 

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In a word: silly

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 Estimate"

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Homonym, homophone, homograph

Not long ago a person self-described as "an old English teacher" generously offered to school me at Facebook on terminology, suggesting that I should research the meaning of homonym. 

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Attack mode

A while back, at my most recent appearance on Sheilah Kast's Maryland Morning show on WYPR-FM, she asked me about my attacks on the peeververein: Are not your posts just as dogmatic and extreme in tone as those you deplore? 

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Here's how it's done-8

Years ago, before heading to campus to sit in a library carrel and pretend to scholarship, I would listen to Hughes Rudd's dry commentaries on the CBS morning news program. 

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You already swallowed "your" as an epicene pronoun

Last week when I set out to tweak the Gannett newspapers on their manifest effort to reduce or eliminate editing (succeeding beyond my fondest hopes), the headline of the post, "Everyone their own editor," drew attention. 

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In a word: fantods

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 Temperature in Siberia"

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Everyone their own editor

Many of you have seen that the Gannett newspapers are in the throes of a reorganization, cutting the staffs,* and creating ludicrous titles for the remnant. 

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Stop enabling

The screaming hasn't reached me yet (perhaps I should open the windows), but it's sure to come now that Oxford Dictionaries has announced the inclusion of, among other words, adorbs, binge-watch, cray, humblebrag,listicle, neckbeard, SMH, side boob, vape, and YOLO. 

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Here's how it's done-7

If you don't mind indulging me, I want to remind you, as we labor over our editing, of the sheer pleasure in reading. 

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You have a rare opportunity

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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.

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