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Friday, April 13, 2012

Breaking: dispatches from a copy editors' convention

Posted By on 04.13.12 at 04:45 PM

What?
  • Horia Varlan
  • What?
Somewhere between five and 50 people on Twitter today are talking about some things that between five and 50 readers of this blog may be interested in, which is the National Conference of the American Copy Editors Society, taking place over the weekend in New Orleans. This morning the convention featured a panel of representatives from the AP and Chicago Manual of Style talking about forthcoming changes, or lack thereof, to the style books. We follow CMOS over here, so below are the things that we’re concerned about; this is all from Twitter, so needless to say there’s between a 5 and a 50 percent chance that it is not entirely accurate.

Internet will remain uppercase.

—The periods are coming out of U.S.

They will remain a plural pronoun, despite its utility as a singular gender-neutral one.

I’m curious to see how the next edition will explain this last decision, which I find disappointing. When I saw a couple representatives of the University of Chicago Press on a panel about the Chicago Manual last fall, there seemed to be a general consensus that a reworking of “they” was imminent, even if individuals on the panel had their own reservations. “It’s the best of many imperfect solutions,” linguist Ben Zimmer said then. U. of C. Press managing editor Anita Samen pointed out that in the 14th, two editions ago, CMOS actually did (sort of) accept they as a singular pronoun—in a footnote on the 76th page that read, “The Unviersity of Chicago Press recommends the ‘revival’ of the singular use of they and their, citing . . . its venerable use by such writers as Addison, Austen, Chesterfield, Fielding, Ruskin, Scott, and Shakespeare.” Yesterday at the copy editors’ convention, the University of Wisconsin’s Sandra Schaefer made another historical case for they.

Alas. Related: Sweden just added a new gender-neutral pronoun to its national encyclopedia. Language differences between English and Swedish make the pronoun, hen, really adorable.

Another reason I wish I’d been in New Orleans—besides the fact of being in New Orleans—was a talk yesterday by a former Hustler copy editor (h/t Romenesko), who discussed that illustrious publication’s house rules. Among them: blowjob not blow job, porn not porno, phone sex not phone-sex. On the other hand,

Hustler will bend its style rules on occasion. Althoff said that the magazine prefers “come” as a verb and “cum” as a noun in references to ejaculation. But on the magazine’s cover, it would allow “cum” in either situation to get the attention of potential buyers. “‘Cum’ is going to jump out at consumers,” he said.

I wonder what their position on lady parts is.

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