Thursday, September 30, 2010
The words appear in the following sentences:
In the fifth paragraph-
"...and then several more times in a ham-handed effort to get a roomful of sports reporters to retract or ignore his original use of the word."
And then in the second to last paragraph-
"I don't want Mr. McMackin punished for society's larger troubles any more than I want Prof. Henry Louis Gates or Sgt. James Crowley to bear sole racial responsibility for every inflexible cop or every hotheaded homeowner with an ego."
"And whether you believe it's the intolerance Crowley showed gates, or the intolerance Gates showed Crowley -- or the knuckleheaded intolerance Coach McMackin showed about lives different than his own -- it all gets you to the same place."
In each instance the word serves as an adjective, so why the difference in hyphenation? This is a good example of the evolution of words and how they change from two separate words, to hyphenated words, to a closed form. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary "ham-handed" and its derivatives are always hyphenated. "Knuckleheaded" is a closed compound.
Merriam-Webster lists "hotheaded" as a closed adjective but demonstrates its hyphenated use in the example: "He wrote a hot-headed letter." Dictionary.com lists both versions, "hotheaded" and "hot-headed." This leads me to believe that there is not yet a consensus on the form of this word, and it is an example of the in-between on an evolutionary scale. Because it appears in the same paragraph as "knuckleheaded" the un-hyphenated form is appealing.
I'm still developing my understanding of compound adjectives and when they should be hyphenated, so please comment or correct me!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I know; this post doesn't pose a question, but I just wanted to convey my frustration regarding the treatment of numbers in a manuscript. This is some hard stuff!
After attempting to tackle Exercise G on page 192, I realized that I had never squared off with a more formidable adversary than those pesky numbers and the seemingly myriad rules that govern their use.
Curse you, numbers, for (naturally) being so complicated to work with!
As Alpha 5 from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers used to say, "Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!"
Monday, September 27, 2010
So, I found a blog by this woman that has apparently has made it her mission to make fun of and deride businesses that dare violate the rules of grammar, spelling, etc. It's good reading! There's interesting stuff such as a diagram of one of Obama's more complex sentences, a spelling error on an American Eagle t-shirt, a selection of quotes from a really crazy argument about grammar on Facebook, and other such smirk-worthy items. Here is one of her posts that made me chuckle:
"This is my new favorite entry on my new favorite Web site, fmylife.com:Today, I was flirting via text with a coworker. Things started getting heated, and I wanted to send her a sexy picture. I asked if she had any suggestions. She said, “Your nuts!” She meant, 'YOU’RE nuts.'... FML."
Here, we see very clearly the relation between grammar fail and epic fail.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
"The man hung out under the tree yesterday."
"The man hanged out under the tree yesterday."
The verb “hang” is very interesting in that it has two past tense forms, “hung” and “hanged”. These words are commonly misused and interchanged, though they actually have different applications. The word “hung” is actually the correct past tense form of “hang” in every situation except one, when death is invoked. The correct usage for the word “hanged” is applicable only when someone has cold, dangling feet.
So basically, you don’t ever want to say, “I hanged out under the tree yesterday.”
On another interesting, slightly unrelated note, the same can be said about the words “shocked” and “electrocuted”. The word “electrocuted” implies death.
After reading these articles, I still don't think that I know when to spell numbers out for people. Just reading the post by Richie Mae really got me thinking. There are some clear rules there, but there are more rules in the articles I read.
Also, thinking back on this same post, I went and looked at a math book that I still had and couldn't believe that the what Richie said was totally true. Math books are inconsistent in naming their naming of numbers.
Thanks, Cindy. Although I read Snow, too, I knew nothing about Pamuk. Probably because I had only that book to go on, I read the his circling back to statements about writing in one's own room as characteristic of his style; my memory of Snow is that the protagonist's life in the book also proceeded in a very circular fashion. He, too, kept returning to his room, going to have tea, looking out the window, etc. And the book seemed to proceed very deliberately, just as the lecture did.In my experience, it's not necessary to know much about the author. However, if the work is about a certain political or historical period, it does help to know something about that period.
This makes me wonder if it is an advantage for an editor to know a writer's history, including political and social entanglements, or whether it is better, or easier on the editor, not to know much about the author, but just to approach editing a piece with a minimum of information about the author.
In most cases, you will know little about the author, and what you know about him or her will be far less important than what you know about the work. Understanding the author's intention, meaning, style, audience, and so forth is always critical to editing a manuscript well; knowing something about the author usually is not.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
In addition, large increases in dog populations bring another set of problems. According to a 2004 study conducted by the Association for the Prevention and Control of Rabies in India (and sponsored by the United Nations’ World Heath Organization), approximately 17 million people in India are bitten by dogs each year, or roughly one person every two seconds. Nationwide, the vast majority of the victims belong to “poor” or “low-income” economic groups (75 percent), and in rural areas the consequences fall especially heavily on these poorer groups (80.3 percent).
While dog attacks are by themselves significant, dogs in India are also the primary vector for the transmission of rabies to humans, accounting for approximately 96 percent of all transmissions. There are, therefore, fears that the incidence of rabies in India may be beginning to climb as a result of the increasing number of dogs. It is estimated that already 60 percent of the world’s rabies deaths occur in India: approximately 25,000 to 30,000 per year, or one death every thirty minutes. While vaccinations are available for rabies, and seem to be reaching many people, the total number of deaths from rabies is decreasing only slightly—perhaps due to the enormous number of people being exposed to the disease in recent years. It should not be forgotten that rabies causes a horrifically painful death. The guide of the British Medical Association (BMA) notes, “Once clinical symptoms of rabies appear, there is no known cure and the victim is virtually certain to die an agonizing and terrifying death.”
Like anthrax and dog attacks, rabies does not affect all social groups equally. The aforementioned 2004 study concluded that not only are more people from “poor” or “low-income” socioeconomic groups bitten, but these people also account for 87.6 percent of all those killed by rabies. In addition, most of the victims are adult males, and the study noted that their deaths frequently place additional economic hardships on families.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Please feel free to edit me. I am in the class to learn what I don't know, and to establish the mistakes that I've been making all along.
I want to elaborate on the controversies that surround Orhan Pamuk, as I understand them. I would also like to provide support for the comments that I made in class about the tone of the ancillary document discussed.
Prior to his acceptance of the Nobel Prize (2006), Pamuk’s contemporaries accused him of plagiarism (2002). According to reports, certain story lines, specific paragraphs, and particular ideas found in Pamuk’s My Name is Red and The White Castle are the original works of other authors. Pamuk rebuffed the allegations, but received an eternal black eye as a result of the claims against him. Apparently, he is both loved by some and hated by many in his native country.
Orhan Pamuk was the first writer from a predominately Muslim country to win the Nobel Prize for fiction since 1988, when Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt took home the honor. After receiving this prestigious award, Pamuk was interviewed by a Swiss Newspaper. It was during this interview that litigious issues emerged. Despite Turkey’s censorship around national crimes against humanity, Pamuk made comments during his discussion with the reporter about how Turkey was responsible for the deaths of over 1 million Armenians. -The Armenian Massacre, was the premeditated and methodical destruction of the Armenian population, by the Ottoman Empire, during and immediately after World War I. (The word genocide was conceived as a result of the Armenian carnage.) The Turks ruthlessly killed over 1 million Armenians, according to historians. - Pamuk said that his country was in denial about their role in the slaughter. His efforts to air the country’s dirty laundry instigated criminal charges against the Nobel Prize winner - for "insulting" the parliament, the military, and the nationals. However, about a year later, and after much legal wrangling, the charges were dropped.
When I was reading the transcripts from the public lecture given by Pamuk, I couldn't shake the feeling that he was addressing his contemporaries in a passive-aggressive way. He spends a lot of time explaining his own process as a writer as if he is trying to defend himself against the allegations of plagiarism, for example. In the first paragraph when talking about the writer he says, “it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words.” By portraying this image of being shut away from society, Pamuk suggests that he could not be influenced by outside sources because he spends his time in self-imposed confinement. The transcript, in my opinion, is littered with this circuitous oration. Pamuk uses this platform to address the well-publicized contentious issues also.
In the last paragraph he begins his ending thoughts with “A writer talks of things that everyone knows but does not know they know. To explore this knowledge, and to watch it grow, is a pleasurable thing…” Because of the suppression in Turkey about the Armenian incident, the nationals were prohibited from even considering the concept of the crimes committed on the Turkish soil during World War I. As I said earlier, it was this horrific event that prompted the international community to name the crime, “Genocide” also known as “Crimes Against Humanity.” The International Criminal Court was not in existence until after the World War II and Nuremberg, the birthplace of the Nazi party, and consequent post-war tribunals set up to address War Crimes and other crimes against humanity. So, Turkey was never held accountable for their atrocities. In his interview with the newspaper, Pamuk merely pointed out the pink elephant in Turkey’s living room. In his public lecture in 2006, as the newly crowned Nobel Prize recipient, he did it again.
On a separate note, one of my all-time favorite books is Snow by Orhan Pamuk. He is a phenomenal writer.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The ad urged people to go to the “southbendon.com” website for a look at the “15 best things about our pubic schools.” That’s right, the billboard said “pubic” instead of “public” schools. The letter “L” had been left out of the word public.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Written by Richard Lederer and John Shore, "Comma Sense - A FUNdamental Guide to Punctuation," relies on humor to teach the principles of punctuation.
“‘Writing well is important for business, but it also can be crucial in love,’ the writers warn. “Do you want to say, ‘I would like to tell you that I love you. I can’t stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on Earth,’ or ‘I would like to tell you that I love you. I can’t. Stop thinking that you are one of the prettiest women on Earth.’? As Lederer and Shore say, ‘Punctuation can mean the difference between a second date and a restraining order.”"
Wow, what an amazingly gifted, focused, and dedicated, woman.
E.B White gives Eleanor credit for her for her contributions to the second edition of "The Elements of Style." (The first edition was written by William Strunk Jr.) In her obituary, which she contributed to before her death, her boss called her "indispensable."
"“My list of pet language peeves,” she once told The Key Reporter, the Phi Beta Kappa newsletter, “would certainly include writers’ use of indirection (i.e., slipping new information into a narrative as if the reader already knew it); confusion between restrictive and non-restrictive phrases and clauses (‘that’ goes with restrictive clauses, and, ordinarily, ‘which’ with nonrestrictive); careless repetition; and singular subjects with plural verbs and vice versa.” She was a fiend for problems of sequence and logic. In her presence, modifiers dared not dangle. She could find a solecism in a Stop sign.""
I stand in awe of such talent.
I always turn to the Grammar Girl for her Quick and Dirty Tips.
So here’s the Quick and Dirty Tip on random or vanity capitalization: don’t.
One reason capitalization matters is that a word’s meaning can change depending on whether it's uppercase or lowercase.
“See those three domiciles over there? Well, I live in the white house.” That’s quite different from, “I live in the White House [capital W, capital H].” That White House is where the president lives.
In English, we capitalize words that are proper nouns—that is, they describe a specific thing or entity. They could be a title, a name, or a specific place such as the president's residence: [THEE] White House.
We lowercase words that are considered common nouns—that is, they can be used to describe many things, such as any one of the multitude of white colored houses in the world.
(As an aside, I'll note that in German all nouns and certain pronouns get uppercased; now there's a gratuitous “Das Kapital” reference just waiting to be made. And so I made one.)
Monday, September 20, 2010
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for more information and details.
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Otherwise, most of the corrections were related to word ordering and inconsistencies in punctuation and capitalization.
- Last year popular fiction accounted for half of all books purchased. (Business and self-help books were the second largest category.)
- Last year popular fiction accounted for half of all books purchased (business and self-help books were the second largest category).
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Here is an [unsigned] article which is making the e-mail circuit. It tries to prove that all of us read with a whole word approach.
"Can you raed tihs?
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid; aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!
If you can raed tihs forwrad it."
Read more about this at http://www.learningbooks.net/wholeword.html
While looking for something to post for the week I happened to rediscover the wonders and joys of Engrish.com. The website portrays failures of English that exist in our world and have been perfectly captured and documented in there natural habitats. At the expanse of others, it serves to remind me how difficult our language, and all its nuances, can be, even things that we take for granted, such as, the proper use of commas. Its also hilarious. Grammer is hard!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
"Damn we going to eat good people!"
Ignoring the incorrect use of the present progressive in the author's verb, your eyes might be drawn to the more hilarious problem at work here—eat good people! Because of the way this sentence is written, it appears that the noun phrase good people is the direct object of the sentence's main verb, eat. A direct object is the element in a sentence that directly receives the action of a verb—it answers the question of "what?" or "whom?" In the case of this particular sentence, the direct object would answer the question of "eat what?" or "eat whom?"
That's right: eat good people. In other words, we are going to eat people who are good.
Most readers of that sentence, however, would probably safely assume that the author is not revealing his or her cannibalistic tendencies, but is rather addressing an audience, whom he or she refers to as people. The author is telling people that we going to eat good or, more correctly, that "we are going to eat well." To avoid causing certain readers to spit out their Special K cereal during their casual perusals of social networking Web sites, the author should make it clear that he or she is directly addressing an audience by inserting a comma to separate the addressee from the rest of the sentence. Thus, the sentence would read, "Damn we going to eat good, people!"
There. Now we know that people aren't going to be eaten.
Oh, and on a somewhat related but somewhat less important note, one should also insert commas to set off interjections in sentences. Words like "yes," "no," "hi," and "bye" as well as emotive expressions like "ugh," "ahem," "wow," and "gosh" are interjections. Damn, which is a markedly more intensified variation of "darn," would fall into the interjection category—it's a word that, as Wikipedia puts it, expresses an isolated emotion related to the rest of the sentence. Anyway, with commas properly in place to set off interjections and direct addresses, the sentence above would read, "Damn, we going to eat good, people!"
So, remember, folks: A comma is sometimes the only difference between an innocent call for joyful merriment and a merciless command to evoke humanity's most ignoble instincts!
"Let's eat, Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat Grandma!" Which one do you mean?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Register in the context she created no doubt means the second, but I like the idea of it suggesting both: the voice on the page striking the ear of the reader in a way determined by language use.
- a particular part of the range of a voice or instrument : his voice moved up a register | she plays a basset horn and relishes the duskiness of its lower register.
- Linguistics a variety of a language or a level of usage, as determined by degree of formality and choice of vocabulary, pronunciation, and syntax, according to the communicative purpose, social context, and social status of the user.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The first is an excerpt from Gertrude Stein's Everybody's Autobiography that has a vastly different style from anything we have seen in class and would certainly be fun to edit (if it needed it).
The second thing that I came across was the idea of Autobiographical Truth, which relates back to our discussion that we had on James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. This isn't really related to editing at all, but I found it enlightening and wanted to share. Smith and Watson refer to autobiography as "an intersubjective truth" that requires the reader to bend their version of truth while reading. Although I don't think they would necessarily agree that purposely altering truth for the purpose of selling more novels is an ethical decision, they do state that, "any utterance in an autobiographical text, even if inaccurate or distorted, characterizes its writer." Food for thought.
An infinitive is the original, most basic form of a verb. It consists of to and a verb's base form. (To, of course, is what most of us would identify as a preposition, as in to the store, but when it precedes a base form of a verb to form an infinitive, it's called a "particle" instead.) Here are some examples of infinitives:
The metaphor I use in explaining infinitives is to think of an infinitive as the "basic" model of a verb that you receive when you purchase one from an online retailer. The verb arrives in your mailbox "packaged" as an infinitive and accompanied by instructions showing you how to "mold" the infinitive into a number of different verb forms. These forms are what grammarians call the principal parts of a verb, and every verb has five. Let's look at an example—here are the principal parts of the verb give:
Base (or Present): give
Present Third-Person Singular: gives
Past Participle: given
Present Participle: giving
For something a little more challenging, let's try the most widely used verb in the English language: be. What makes be slightly harder to work with is the fact that it can be more extensively conjugated than other verbs. While every other verb has a base and one additional present form, be has three additional present forms. Further complicating matters, it also has two different past forms. Here's how this verb would be mapped out:
Present: am (first-person singular), is (third-person singular), and are (second-person singular or plural as well as third-person plural)
Past: was (first- or third-person singular) and were (third-person plural)
Past Participle: been
Present Participle: being
Anyway, remember—when you order a verb from an online store, it arrives in your mailbox packaged as an infinitive, but you can feel free to mold it into other forms (any of the principal parts) to fit your sentences' needs.
Okay, now, what about the infinitive itself? How is that used in sentences? There are three ways.
1. Using an infinitive as an adjective.
An infinitive can function as an adjective in a sentence. Here's an example:
In light of my brief attempt to define infinitives today...
This probably looks familiar! Yes, the first sentence I wrote in this post contains an infinitive (to define), and it is functioning as an adjective. It modifies the noun attempt by telling us which attempt I'm talking about. Remember that adjectives modify nouns by describing them or specifying them, and specifying which attempt I mean is precisely what the infinitive to define does. Also, don't be fooled by an adjective's post-noun position. Recall that sometimes adjectives can and do come after the nouns they modify.
2. Using an infinitive as an adverb.
An infinitive can function as an adverb in a sentence. Here's an example:
Clark went home to relax.
Here, the infinitive to relax is fulfilling the role of an adverb by telling us why Clark went home. Remember that adverbs most often modify verbs by telling how, where, when, or why an action takes place, and telling why Clark went home is precisely what the infinitive to relax does.
3. Using an infinitive as a noun.
As I briefly pointed out today, an infinitive can function as a noun in a sentence. Here's an example:
To stay is a bad idea.
Here, the infinitive to stay is acting as a noun and can therefore fulfill the role of subject in this sentence. When you look at a sentence like this and try to determine the role of the infinitive, it may be helpful to read it to yourself while substituting the infinitive with a pronoun like "something." Thus, the sentence would read, "Something is a bad idea." That "something" would be, obviously, a noun as well as the subject of the sentence (since you can see that the only thing remaining is the predicate).
So, there you have it! I hope this has made infinitives at least somewhat clearer for you! If you have any further questions about infinitives and their uses, feel free to ask in the comments. :)
- Follow up on the job performed for the customer.
- Thank the customer for choosing the company.
- Request two things from the customer: (a) that he or she post comments on the Internet about the company; and (b) that he or she refer family and friends to the company.
- Build customer loyalty.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
As for the beginning, I think the "Aloha!" should be completely taken out. I do not think that is how a business letter should even start.
Aloha! We just wanted to follow up with you on how are you and if everything is coming along satisfactory with your tub installation job, which we did for you on January 22 of this year.
Aloha! We wanted to follow up on the tub installation job we did for you on January 22 of this year to ensure that everything is coming along satisfactorily.
Aside from some of the more minor edits, what is the cleanest way to move a large chunk of text without rewriting it?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
There really are no hard-and-fast rules for newspaper editing. It depends on the story, how well it was written originally, how much time the editor has, and how information comes into the newsroom. Invariably, copy editors working under deadline pressure ought not to undertake major structural changes unless they have time to go over the edited work thoroughly to avoid the glitches noted above. I have seen published accounts of a candidate running for public office with the office he was seeking not mentioned until late in the jump, by which time a reader would be seething at the incompetent boob who wrote the piece. It might not have been an incompetent writer, but an incompetent editor.Last, it would be well for newspaper editors to go over the story with the writer to discuss changes and why they are necessary. Besides helping a reporter grow in the craft, it gets the reporter's expertise into the editing process to avoid editing mistakes. There is not always time for this process to take place, but there should be.
The New York Times has a nice site called Grammar News, with links to articles, books, and blogs. Several items on the site are relevant to our topic of how, and how much, to edit. One in particular is “Let’s Kill All the Copy Editors” (http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/01/magazine/l-let-s-kill-all-the-copy-editors-652691.html?ref=grammar), written by a manuscript editor at a university press. It stresses that editors and authors need to learn to cooperate.
We can think of several elements, all contingent on the particular "style" the author is using in a particular circumstance, for a particular audience and function. What are the "style" elements we see in a particular piece of writing?
An editor can try to maintain the "style" of the author when editing. The objective usually is not to impose a style, but to help the author to maintain her own situational style by making her aware of what it is, and as an editor conforming to it as much as possible. Bad grammar, typos, ill-considered tone, illogical punctuation and paragraphing are not a "style" except in special circumstances. Surely an author doesn't need help with editing a work when the author uses those kinds of elements and wishes to retain them.1. Level of diction (big words, Latinate words, slang words, foreign words)2. Sentence structure (long sentences, short sentences, complex, simple, fragments, parallel and formal)3. Punctuation (dashes instead of semicolons, full stops rather than commas or semicolons, exclamations)4. Paragraphing (short or long, for emphasis or whole thoughts)5. Tone (serious, silly, sarcastic, witty, lofty)6. Person (first, second, third; one rather than you or we)
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I've never known how to properly use a semicolon. Hell, I don't even think I ever used one and I'm a English major. In the end, it took illustrations; I'm twenty-five.
PS: I'm guessing the semicolons placement on the keyboard dates back to when people actually knew how to write.
- The Chicago Manual of Style has 11,000+ fans on FB.
- The preferred spelling of the term "U.S." has been updated to: "US."
- The proper citation for Wikipedia is now included.
- The rule for sequential punctuation marks has been rethought - "Chicago says it is now OK in certain situations to use a comma directly after a question mark or exclamation point."
- People seem to do more than just respect this book - they love it. They adore it. They want to make little half-text, half-human babies with it.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Obviously this applies more in a teaching scenario, as opposed to a professional copyediting setting. However, I am curious as to how to best edit a paper in this situation.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
It could be true that, most of the time, beginning copyeditors will not have to be concerned with an author's style. However, sooner or later, they will be editing someone's work and will come across a sentence or a passage that needs revising. At that point, they will have to think about the author's style and how to fix the syntactical or logical problem without disturbing it.
Let me add that in our office there are many kinds of copyediting. We don't only copyedit the work of our authors. We also copyedit catalog text for our publisher, UH Press; e-mail messages to authors that need to be diplomatic while explaining fairly complex matters (my boss and I send such things back and forth to each other); procedures for our staff; grant applications and reports; promotional materials, such as information sheets, flyers, and ads; fund-raising letters; and so forth. Sometimes these materials require a certain voice or style.
Of course, junior staff members usually don't work on these things; however, we will occasionally give them a small writing task or ask them to review grant applications and reports. For example, we recently asked a graduate student on our staff to work on catalog copy for UH Press. She drafted the text after my boss explained to her what he felt was special about our forthcoming issue, which pieces he especially liked and why, etc. A creative writer, she was sensitive to what he was saying and how he was expressing his feelings and thoughts. She came up with something quite unusual. My boss edited it and then gave it to me. I did some significant editing to a few parts, and he edited the text again. After all that was done, some of her contribution still remained. We were all pleased with the results.
Of course, there is always tomorrow, and it's likely that the copy will be edited again :-)
P.S. I want to point out that in the first paragraph of this post, there is a quotation within a quotation. You use double quotation marks for the enclosing quotation and single quotation marks for the enclosed one.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I did so many thing's today! First I had egg's and waffle's for breakfast, and then I gathered my book's and thing's for school. I found out I had to read several chapter's because my teacher's will have lot's of test's for us over the next few day's. Then my friend's met me after I ran some errand's, and we went to two different party's! I only had three drink's, but I still had my parent's pick me up. I would hate to crash into all those car's on the road's!
It is staggering to see how misued—nay, abused—the apostrophe has become. More and more commonly, the apostrophe is egregiously deployed to make plural nouns when, in fact, making a noun plural typically involves nothing more than adding the letter "s" to the noun sans the apostrophe.
Turning a singular noun into a plural noun? No problem. Just add an "s."
Granted, pluralizing a noun becomes just a tad trickier when the noun is supposed to undergo a bigger change, but whether you like it or not, still no apostrophe is needed. The example above, for instance, has party's, whose correct plural form is "parties." Ugh.
Okay, now that I've addressed simple plural nouns and their incompatibility with apostrophes, let's take a look at what apostrophes are actually meant for.
The first use of an apostrophe is to mark a noun—whether singular or plural—as possessive. Here are some examples:
When the noun is singular, the apostrophe is followed by an "s," as in
The cat's bowl or
Bruce's car or
The school's headmaster.
When the noun is already plural, the apostrophe follows the "s," as in
The books' covers or
His dogs' leashes.
The second use of an apostrophe is to indicate omitted letters in contractions. Here are some examples:
Don't = Do not
Won't = Will not
Shouldn't = Should not
It's = It is
They're = They are
On a related note, occasionally apostrophes are used to omit letters in informal writings, such as when the writer is attempting to reflect the idiosyncrasies of slang or a regional dialect, as in
I'll be gettin' there soon! or
He's just killin' time and chillin'.
And that's it: the two main uses of the apostrophe in the English language. Unless you're using the apostrophe for one of these two purposes, please leave the poor thing alone.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Well, remember that the copyeditor and author are engaged in a formal relationship. If no such relationship exists, you do not have to comment. Sometimes friends bring us their work to look at; they are hoping that we will be impressed with the work and will praise them. Because we are not in a professional or formal relationship with them, we need not comment if we feel that such comments won't be appreciated or have any beneficial effect. We can instead make the choice to protect the friendship by saying something like "I really don't feel I'm the right person to evaluate this. Maybe it would be better if you asked Mr. or Ms. X?"
In the case of the copyeditor-author relationship, the author has agreed to consider the copyediting in exchange for having his work published. If, in the course of copyediting his work, you question his style, diction, metaphors, etc., it is your right to do so. You are supporting and enforcing the publication standards of your employer.
If the author is offended and/or rejects your copyediting, it is possible that publication of his work will be reconsidered.
It is also possible, as I've said before, that the acquisitions editor will (1) decide that your editing won't be used or (2) enter into a dialogue with the author that will result in a better piece.
P. 3: "Heavier intervention may be needed, for example, when the author does not have native or near-native fluency in English, when the author is a professional or a technical expert writing for a lay audience, or when the author has not been careful in preparing the manuscript." Note that here Einsohn is talking about a manuscript that not only can be made to conform to a certain standard but should be made to conform.
P. 4: "Copyeditors who work for publishers are usually given general instructions about how light or heavy a hand the text is thought to need." Here Einsohn is talking about what the publisher decides should be done to a manuscript. The publisher may decide that the unusual spelling, etc., are an integral part of the book and cannot be separated from the narrative. In that case, the publisher will instruct the copyeditor to edit lightly. For example, if "there" is being rendered as "thar," the copyeditor will need to correct it when it appears otherwise. In the passage Lisa quotes, "linendrapery" is used, but if the word appears as "linen drapery" elsewhere, Lisa might correct it, noting in the margin that the correction has been made and referring to the previous instance so that there's no question why she did what she did.
P. 4: "In addition to having a good eye and ear for language, copyeditors must develop a sixth sense about how much effort, and what kind of effort, to put into each project that crosses their desk." This sense is called editorial judgment, and the copyeditor acquires it only after working for publishers and with authors for a while.
P. 5: On this page, Einsohn lists such elements of mechanical editing as spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, punctuation, treatment of numbers and numerals, treatment of quotations, use of abbreviations and acronyms, and use of italics and bold type. When I said a couple of times in class that consistency of treatment equals style, I was referring to these elements. When the copyeditor makes the manuscript internally consistent, these are the things that he or she focuses on.
P. 5: "The mistake most frequently made by novice copyeditors is to rewrite portions of a text (for better or for worse, depending on the copyeditor's writing skills) and to ignore such 'minor details' as capitalization, punctuation, and hyphenation. Wrong! Whatever else you are asked to do, you are expected to repair any mechanical inconsistencies in the manuscript." Note that here the temptation for beginning copyeditors is to make the manuscript with non-standard spelling, etc., conform to what they have been taught. Most of the time, of course, you will be expected to do just that. Every once in a while, however, the publisher will not want you to do that. When you are given a manuscript that should be treated in a special way, it should be made clear to you what is expected.
P. 7–9: "Ideally, copyeditors set right whatever is incorrect, unidiomatic [not natural to a native speaker], confusing, ambiguous, or inappropriate without attempting to impose their stylistic preferences or prejudices on the author.…[T]he 'correct' usage choice may vary from manuscript to manuscript, depending on the publisher's house style, the conventions in the author's field, and the expectations of the intended audience.…Copyeditors are expected to correct (or ask the author to correct) locutions [style of speech] that are likely to confuse, distract, or disturb readers, but copyeditors are not hired for the purpose of imposing their own taste and sense of style on the author. Thus when reading a manuscript, the copyeditor must ask, 'Is this sentence acceptable as the author has written it?'"
Saturday, September 4, 2010
No "call xxx-xxxx for a good time" or "Waimanalo PRIDE" scribbles on this bathroom door in Moore Hall. Instead, here we find a handy reminder that seems to have been born out of some student's grammatical frustration. Ah, college is an interesting place, isn't it? :]
Friday, September 3, 2010
He brings the greengrocery, the fruit, the fish, the water-cresses, the shrimps, the pies and puddings, the sweetmeats, the pine-apples, the stationery, the linendrapery, and the jewellery, such as it is, to the very door of the working classes; indeed, the poor man's food and clothing are mainly supplied to him in this manner.The use of so much alternate spelling and hyphenations was a little overwhelming, and I honestly don't think 'linendrapery' is a word. It wasn't in any dictionary that I could find.
So, if we are ever called to edit an historical text that includes words that don't exist any longer (or that the author possibly made up?), do you let it stand?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
BTW, you may want to know that Oe received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994. To read more about him, see Wikipedia.