Thomas Vinciguerra has written a hopeful piece for the Columbia Journalism Review that looks at the unlikely Internet stardom of copy editors.
The piece features the always-sensible John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun, who got more than a million views for a video outlining his practical and progressive views on the singular “they.”
Says Mark Allen, of the American Copy Editors Society:
People are getting more information than they ever have, whether it’s in ink or electronically. People want to read, and they want to read without stumbling. And that’s where the copy editor comes in. The copy editor is the bridge who keeps the writer from tripping up.
You can find most anything online, including a million reasons to believe that most folks these days think clear writing went out with the Lindy Hop. But here – on the Internet! – is proof you don’t have to leave your readers stumbling around like a bunch of drunks in a sack race.
My campaign to have “shitgibbon” declared the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is gaining momentum with a ground-breaking revelation in the search for the term’s origin.
Ben Zimmer reports that this delightful word was coined by the British writer David Quantick.
“I’m surprised and delighted that a word I made up in the 1980s to insult British indie rock stars has resurfaced in the context of 21st century US politics and the shitgibbon in the White House,” Quantick told Zimmer. “It’s bizarre and a very odd journey for a very silly word.”
From the irksome Mark E. Smith to a strange-haired delusionist strongman is indeed an odd journey. Let’s hope the Oxford folks are listening.
(By the way, I’m following Zimmer’s practice and dropping the hyphen from “shitgibbon.” As the Canadian Press Stylebook notes, “in North America, the tendency is to drop the hyphen as soon as a new compound becomes familiar.” I say it’s time we all got familiar with this exemplary bit of invective.)
“You and I go together like the molar and the drill.”
The Divine Comedy,
Sticks & Stones
… reading Roy Peter Clark’s The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing:
On more than one level the act of writing is, to use a fancy word, ludic. It’s a game. A game of language, connection, and meaning. Have some fun, for goodness’ sake.
And may I add that any book that references the Swingin’ Medallions and T.S. Eliot on the same page (p. 5, in this case) is all right by me.
Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love): The Love Song of J. Alfred Fratrock?
“Weird Al” Yankovic: permissive on the serial comma, but a stickler when it comes to the proper use of “irony.”
… reading World Wide Words:
“A babbler, an idle-headed fellow.”
Ridiculously obscure, I know, but what a great word.
… reading S.J. Perelman:
“Really, it’s unspeakable, and while you may feel that you’re in a wasteland, that the vitality of New York does occasionally infuse one, and that LA is sheer barbarism, don’t repine unduly.”
… reading Caitlin Moran:
“Ninety-three years after women got the vote, they still aren’t saying very much. Well, obviously they are saying a lot: they’re in the kitchen getting the tea ready, and shouting at Toby Young spraffing on on Today – his ability to be a total tit about any and all events so reliable, you could use it to power an atomic clock.”
… reading P.G. Wodehouse:
“Mr Riesbitter lit a cigar, and looked at us solemnly over his zareba of chins.”