I was walking down the corridor at Morrill Hall at Michigan State beside one of my professors, who looked gloomy. “What’s up?” I asked. “I’m off to teach ‘Prufrock’ for the twentieth time,” he said. “When are they ever going to figure it out?”
I have in my files at The Sun copies of various in-house editing newsletters going back to 1970, and the same damn things keep turning up over and over. When are they ever going to pay attention?
The Enoch Pratt Free Library has a central library on Cathedral Street and branches throughout the city. We have referred to the building once again as the “central branch.” The central Pratt is not a branch; it is the trunk from which the branches radiate.
This morning we’re informed that police “have no motive or suspect” in a shooting. While we should all be pleased to know that the police do not have a motive for shooting someone, it would be even better to read that they know of no motive in the shooting.
We ran two headlines using the word proactive, which sets some purists’ teeth, including mine, on edge. I’ve had little more success in stamping out the wasted adjective dramatic, which has turned up in references to a dramatic drag race and a dramatic struggle in a bicycle race. If circumstances are genuinely dramatic, the reader will perceive that without coaching; if they are not genuinely dramatic, no piling up of adjectives will make them so. Show, don’t tell, they tell you in writing class, and they are right.
All this pales, unfortunately, in the face of this morning’s solecism, an article in which Voldemort, the villain of the Harry Potter series, is referred to twice as Voldermort — after a correctly spelled first reference. Flagging inconsistent spellings of proper names is one of the few things that the spell-check function is good for. It would have been helpful if someone, writer, assigning editor or copy editor, had used it.
Bad enough to have offended the Dark Lord. Now I have to turn off the lights, lock the office door and hide under the desk until the mob of furious Potterphiles sweeps past.