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You Don't Say

You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.
Make an effort

A colleague was subjected to a little chaffing the other day for saying that something was being “efforted.” Where is that from?” they teased.

I had heard it occasionally over the years, sometimes used mockingly, and had assumed that it was self-important workplace jargon.

But you don’t suppose; you check.

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Who ARE these people?

Item: Complaints when profane language appears in newspapers typically assert that such language will have a bad effect on children.

Who are these children reading newspapers?

Item: Opposition to proposals for government-sponsored health care usually express misgivings that such coverage would lead to huge expense, massive paperwork, a slow-moving bureaucracy, and delays in care.

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The dying copy editor: a whimsical fiction

He had worked on metropolitan newspaper copy desks for more than forty years, but now, as his body failed, his family had been told by the doctors that the end was very close.

They gathered at the bedside as he dozed, his hands feebly plucking at the coverlet now and again.

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Just split the damn infinitive

The charming article by Mary Norris on attending the recent national conference of ACES: The Society for Editing, “Dropped Hyphens, Split Infinitives, and Other Thrilling Developments from the 2019 American Copy Editors Society Conference,” has been posted on Facebook, where it has inevitably drawn comments.

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Last day of class

This morning was the last day of class in my twenty-fourth year of teaching editing at Loyola University Maryland. The concluding remarks to my students are briefer than the Miranda warning on the first day, because they have been listening to me for fourteen weeks and there’s only so much the human spirit can bear.

Here’s what I leave them with.

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A meditation on mowing

I was cutting the grass this morning, pushing the mower across the yard, turning, and pushing it back in the opposite direction, when boustrophedon popped into my head.

It is an excellent word from the Greek, from bous, “ox,” and strophos, “turning,” and it describes my motion with the mower.

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