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Read somebody else

I’m still technically on vacation — apart from the laundry and the yard work and the long-neglected draft of the book on editing — so what am I doing sitting in the basement on a fine fall day? And why aren’t you outside inhaling all the ragweed pollen?

But if you insist on staying at the computer, look here:

Item: At Slate, Christine Kennealley is reviewing Henry Hitchings’ The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English and other books on the language.

Item: David Michael Ettlin, for four decades a reporter and rewrite man at The Baltimore Sun, has taken to blogging at The Real Muck. Ettlin, who was stringing for Reuters as well as writing for The Sun the day that Spiro Agnew pleaded no contest to felony charges in federal court in Baltimore, sprinted out of the courtroom to a telephone he knew about that was closer than the one the Associated Press reporter knew about. That’s how Reuters got the beat on AP on the Agnew plea.

Mr. Ettlin trained a couple of generations of tyros on the technic* of police reporting and obituary writing, insisting relentlessly on accuracy and clarity. He wrote Saturday with affection about the passing of Albert Sehlstedt Jr., one of The Sun’s great versatile reporters.

Item: At Language Log, the indefatigable Arnold Zwicky examines in detail the syntactic tangles speakers of English get themselves into with coordinate possessives.

Item: At Heads Up, fev has a cautionary post on the need to pay attention to statistics. You’ll want to keep the rabbitburger example in mind.

As for me, I have to pick up the dry cleaning.


* No, not technique. From techne, the Greek word for applied rather than theoretical knowledge, we do get technique, the skill in applying that knowledge, but also technic, the theory or principles of an art or process.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:08 AM | | Comments (1)


Re: the Heads Up post:

I picked up How to Lie with Statistics earlier this year after a professor of mine recommended it while admonishing us to be critical readers of journal articles. I would heartily echo that recommendation. The book is slightly dated in its examples, but that barely diminishes its usefulness, and it is a quick, witty read well worth the hour you'll spend looking it through.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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