Copyeditor Screed

You know what I hate? Prescriptivists. Those are the people who grieve because the Internet is now lowercase. They decry the singular “they,” and probably put two spaces after their periods. (Which, spoiler alert, comes from the days of monospaced font and typewriters.) They sniff at people who begin sentences with “because.” Because that’s what their high school English teachers taught them.

Language changes, and it is my job as a copyeditor to keep up. It is the Chicago Manual of Style’s job to keep up as well. Just because I learned one rule doesn’t mean that it will never go away. We are not engineers after all. Style rules are not scientific laws. Language is dynamic and fuckity like the people who use it.

What do you hate today?

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8 responses to “Copyeditor Screed

  1. The universe (because I’m pretty sure it hates me).

    I read one interpretation of grammar activists that said it was just the imposition of the way the elite class spoke on the rest of us.

    • I think about that a lot in terms of academic English. If I had a penny for every time I said, “Don’t use ‘you’ in a formal paper” I’d be a member of the elite class and wouldn’t need my job as a copyeditor.

  2. At a magazine where I worked (briefly) the editor insisted on using “more than” rather than “over” in phrasing like “we have been friends for over ten years.” NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD would know that usage distinction!

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