NYTimes, I say this needed a serial comma:

“…contend that successful groups share three traits: a superiority complex, feelings of insecurity and impulse control.”


The NYT on the OED‘s new Chief Editor

For all the tech talk, certain analog ways linger at the dictionary, notably in the Quotes Room, a repository of word citations on little slips of paper, many mailed in decades ago by volunteers around the world, the most prolific of whom are identified by their distinctive handwriting and referred to fondly by editors: “That’s a Laski,” or “This one’s from Collier in Australia.”


“We can hear everything that’s going on in the world of English for the last 500 years, and it’s deafening,” said the associate editor Peter Gilliver, who once spent nine months revising definitions for the word “run,” currently the longest single entry in the O.E.D.


The objective is to find the earliest and most illustrative uses of a word, not to grant benediction to anything as “proper English.” Each time commentators rebuke the O.E.D. for admitting teenage slang or marketing jargon, they misunderstand the dictionary, which aims not to define how language should be used, only how it is.

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


Read more:

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.)