“C’mon. Give. What black art did they entangle you with? Satanism? Necromancy? Six Sigma?”
He leaned forward and whispered.

It’s time for “Grammarnoir” from John E. McIntyre

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I think that from now on I’ll just hand this piece out at the start of my editing classes:

I must also caution you from the outset that this course is appallingly, unrelievedly dull. A student from a previous term complained in the course evaluation that “he just did the same thing over and over day after day.” Exactly. So will you. Editing is done word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you scream.

I’m going to turn my back for a minute so that anyone who wants to bolt can escape.

John E. McIntyre in The Baltimore Sun


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Beware the dangler. Lately I even hear them (ahem, NPR). The NYT’s “After Deadline” blog calls its own paper on a few examples. Even better, this one tweeted by Stan Carey:

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I imagine Walter P. Stanley emerging, befuddled and besmirched, from the vast mountain of dust where he has spent years wandering. Good of him then, to get right on the job of finding all the old records of the Bangor Lions Club.

“Any print or online publication that merits your attention will struggle to produce verified, edited prose, factually sound and as clear as an editor can make it with the tools and time available. It will acknowledge and correct errors. It will be skeptical. It will attempt to look before it leaps. It will value editing, because editing is one of the means by which a publication attempts not to waste your time.”

John E. McIntyre on “The dwindling discipline of skepticism”  

These days, anyone with a blog and a bunch of pet peeves can crank out a click-bait listicle of supposed grammar errors. There’s just one problem—these articles are often full of mistakes of one sort or another themselves.

Arrant Pedantry on “12 mistakes nearly everyone who writes about grammar mistakes makes”

(This is the one that always peeves me: 1. Confusing grammar with spelling, punctuation, and usage.)

And now, having exhausted the supply of exclamation points I had laid up to last through the end of the decade, I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

John E. McIntyre in the Baltimore Sun 

(May I add that while, of all the places on the face of this Earth that I have no desire ever to visit, Vegas ranks way up at the top, nevertheless, the fact that the American Copy Editor’s Society is conferencing there in the spring would almost tempt me to go.)