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Old 07-25-2010, 06:04 AM   #1
Richard Herley
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What It's Really Like To Be A Copy Editor

One for the obsessive-compulsives (does it require a hyphen?) among us ... What It's Really Like To Be A Copy Editor by Lori Fradkin.

She's great, and so are the comments!

But surely the title should be "What It's Really Like to be a Copy Editor". Or maybe "What it's Really Like to be a Copy Editor". Where do you stand on capitalization in titles? No, please forget I wrote that.
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:57 AM   #2
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Good article but interesting that she can't make up her mind whether it is copy-editor, copyeditor, or copyeditor. I prefer, and use, copyeditor, but people smarter than me make dumber decisions than I .
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Old 07-25-2010, 01:06 PM   #3
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Three+ years on the job. Impressive. I've spent forty+ years on the job and still don't think I merit capital letters. Copy editing (the editing of copy) is technical ... not inspired. Neil
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:32 AM   #4
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I think it's just capitalized because it's the title of the article.

I think I am just like this lady. I'm turned off by "definately." And I use normal words in IMs and text messages. I think the error so many people make with "a part" and "apart" is hilarious because the two are essentially antonyms.
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Old 07-26-2010, 04:58 AM   #5
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My cell phone lacks a QWERTY keyboard (I wanted a phone that just phoned, and that was as simple as I could get ... it merely functions as a camera, notepad, game platform, calculator, and a few dozen other things) but I send correctly spelled and punctuated text messages anyway. This causes me to get into arguments with my friends as to whether "anal-retentive" takes a hyphen or not.

I'll admit to having a problem with schwas. We really just need to add the damned letter to the alphabet. 99% of my little red spellcheck underlines (aside from the ones where the spellchecker and I disagree about hyphenation, like on "spellcheck") are able/ible and its relatives like ant/ent. That's why people get "definately" wrong.

Then there are the people who say we should just spell everything phonetically. With, of course, their preferred regional accent. I can just imagine them trying to read things written by people from Yorkshire, Nashville, and Mumbai.

Yeah, the "a part"/"apart" thing steams me too. Also "alot" instead of "a lot" (really, do you write "alittle"?). And greengrocers' apostrophes (or should I have written "apostrophe's"?). And the recent trend of dropping "-ed" such as the big sign in the Spam aisle of my local grocery store listing "Can Meat". And ... and ... and ... all the things that make me want to scream. I actually snail-mailed a copy of the AP Stylebook to a reporter for a local TV station whose Web articles should have embarrassed him, but clearly didn't. In his favor, he thanked me and his writing improved.

Then there's the abuse of commas. Oh, the poor comma, how cruelly it is treated by the incompetent. People have decided that since it can be used to clarify the organization of multiple adjectives, it should be put between every two modifiers. They'd punctuate that sentence "every, two modifiers." They have no concept of the noun phrase, either. There are many, douche bags who are cruel to commas. I want to smack them. All of them. Also the people who have been trained by camel caps in the names of corporations to think that all compound words should be capitalized that way. Some of them spell my name WorldWalker. While I'm at it, I'll set aside a special large trout just to slap them with.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a local cigar store with a sign saying "EVERYDAY IS CIGAR DAY" and wanted to stop and correct them. If you're one of the people who can't remember when there should be a space and when there shouldn't, try replacing it with "every other day". Martha Stewart's magazine wouldn't be titled "Every Other Day Food", but the cigar store could certainly, if they wanted to, said that "every other day is cigar day" (presumably selling their customers pipe tobacco for the alternate days).

The people who can't remember the difference between "their", "there", and "they're" don't read; they think words are just a way to transcribe sounds, which they then return to audible form in order to understand them. Their lips move when they read. So they don't understand that "they're" is the contraction of "they are" -- to them, it's just a way to write the "thaar" sound. They don't ever see the connection between "there" and "here". They don't realize that "their" forms a set with other possessives.

But most of all, what makes me want to scream is the people who say "it doesn't matter, you know what I meant." Aside from that being a comma splice, which is its own form of evil, yes, it does matter. It particularly matters when you're writing for publication, which includes blogs, comments on other people's blogs, forum rants, and especially fiction (yes, even fanfic).

I'd better stop now before my blood pressure gets too high.

Oh, and Lori is wrong. So, if they disagree, are the writers of dictionaries. "Douchebag" is slang and need not comply with the feminine hygiene spelling, and it's a compound word now. The distinction is necessary, because a douchebag will rarely if ever be found where a douche bag routinely does its business. And it's the former, not the latter, which has to be at the gym in 26 minutes.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:19 AM   #6
Richard Herley
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Worldwalker, there is a special place in hell for people who say "masterful" when they mean "masterly". It's next door to the one for those who don't know the difference between "barbarous" and "barbaric". I sometimes muse on the tortures being inflicted there; I find it helps my blood-pressure (N.B., the hyphen is required, avoiding a momentary ambiguity -- I would argue that your use of the compound does not, so no criticism intended!)

As for capitalization of titles, I have just found this:

http://www.writersblock.ca/tips/monthtip/tipmar98.htm

I'd never seen the rules set out before.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Do the people who use "decimate" to mean "devastate" go to that part of hell too?
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:21 AM   #8
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Do the people who use "decimate" to mean "devastate" go to that part of hell too?
No, there's somewhere worse for them.
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:38 AM   #9
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A few of my "off the top of my head" pet writing hates:

- People who use "it's" when they mean "its" (a LOT of that here at MR, sadly).
- People who use "literally" when they don't mean literally at all. "I literally exploded when I read that..." .
- People who mix up "infer" and "imply".
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:41 AM   #10
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Do the people who use "decimate" to mean "devastate" go to that part of hell too?
It amuses me when I read "decimate" being used in the sense of "everybody being killed", or something similar. Decimation was, of course, the punishment for cowardice in the Roman legions, and involved (as the name suggests) every tenth man being killed by his comrades. ie a 90% survival rate.
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:59 PM   #11
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Another one: the people who think "comprise" means the same thing as "compose", "constitute", or lately "consist". Writing "is comprised of" is an abomination unto Nuggan. Yeah, right up there with the color blue.

The reason the its/it's people get it wrong is they're thinking about it wrong. They think "its" is an exception -- a possessive without an apostrophe -- and they have to remember it as an exception. That's how it was taught to me: "its" can't have an apostrophe because "it's" needs it. That's not true, however; "its" isn't an exception at all. It's like "his" or "hers" or "ours": a plural possessive pronoun. Of course, now that I've said that, I expect to see "hi's" soon.

An even worse abomination I've seen a couple of times recently -- in professional work, on the websites of media entities I've actually heard of -- is "wen't" as the past tense of "go". W. T. F.?
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Old 07-26-2010, 03:11 PM   #12
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An even worse abomination I've seen a couple of times recently -- in professional work, on the websites of media entities I've actually heard of -- is "wen't" as the past tense of "go". W. T. F.?
I think my eyes just started bleeding.
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Old 07-27-2010, 02:57 AM   #13
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An even worse abomination I've seen a couple of times recently -- in professional work, on the websites of media entities I've actually heard of -- is "wen't" as the past tense of "go". W. T. F.?
Again, as you said, they're thinking about it wrongly. "went" is a simple past participle of the verb "wend". It's entirely cognate with "spend/spent". English just happens to have appropriated this past participle for use with the verb "go".
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Old 07-27-2010, 02:59 AM   #14
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So that's where it comes from ... I never looked it up. But where do they get the idea that it needs an apostrophe?

In fact, where do they get the idea that most words they put apostrophes in need apostrophes?
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:05 AM   #15
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Again, as you said, they're thinking about it wrongly. "went" is a simple past participle of the verb "wend". It's entirely cognate with "spend/spent". English just happens to have appropriated this past participle for use with the verb "go".
However, did you know that the past participle of the word with is 'wath"


Saw that on a joke crossword about language and linguistics.......
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