Joel Schnoor, who lives in Apex, sent me a copy of his book, "I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth's Head." (Author House, 2009)
The holiday season brings out the familiar and the banal.
One copy editor duty is to keep vulgar words and phrases out of the newspaper -- or at least, to alert a decision-making editor about an off-color reference, even in a direct quote.
The New Oxford American Dictionary's publishers have chosen the 2009 word of the year.
We used to have a saying on the copy desk: Don't follow the stylebook out the window. In other words, common sense should govern which style rules you enforce.
The Associated Press Stylebook is the guide we use for deciding how to handle some usage matters. We follow it -- mostly. Some of us love it, and some of us hate it. Some of us see it as a blunt instrument we can use to subdue crazed writers. And some folks see it as a rich source for parody. Those are the people behind the Fake AP Stylebook on Twitter. Warning: They use words that are decidedly not in the AP Stylebook but which can be heard from time to time in certain workplaces.
We work very fast these days with diminished resources, and sometimes my word nerd proclivities have to wait until I am off deadline. Lucky for me, I have shelves filled with dictionaries and usage books at home. I can indulge my need to know more about English.
I wrote a post a few years ago about the language of death. As a regular reader of the paid obituaries in our newspaper, I was fascinated with the many ways that the families and funeral homes found to refer to death. I concluded that in these short summations of a person's life, the terms such as "called home," "went to his (or her) heavenly reward" and "passed away" could be comforting to the loved ones of the person who died.
Marian Anders tells the truth when she writes, "Unless you want to be an English teacher, you only need to know the grammar necessary to write correctly -- for school, work and you personal life." That is the guiding principle of Anders' book, "My Dog Bites the English Teacher: Practical Grammar Made Quick and Easy"
A reader has an interesting point to make about a phrase that is all over the news these days:
"It is sad that Kilpatrick has given up writing his columns on usage. If he were still writing, I am certain that he would by now have issued one of his 'injunctions' against the currently sickeningly popular cliche 'town hall meeting.' If it ain't held in a bonafide town hall, call it a community meeting or a high school gym meeting or whatever it is."