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Back at my post

Domestic concerns kept me preoccupied and away from blogging yesterday, as did shoveling snow this morning, so I wasn’t able to point out to you that the latest word of the week, panegyric, was up at Have at it.

In other news:

When Geoffrey Pullum turned to linguistics, the craft of demolition lost a master. Watch on Language Log as he takes the BBC to task for its ill-thought-out but self-congratulatory stylebook entry on the passive voice. asked whether whose may be used to refer to inanimate objects and concluded, quite reasonably, that it can. Let’s not pile up nonsensical restrictions.

There is a new site for people interested in editing, Shane Arthur’s Editing Hacks. Check out the copyediting tutorials and see how much you agree with, and then stay for the interviews with editors about the craft.



Posted by John McIntyre at 6:45 PM | | Comments (6)


John, I thought my twitter feed was broken when I received more followers than usual. I learned the source of the influx was this post. Thank you kindly. (Go Ravens!)

And I won't write a panegyric about you here, but I will say I'd be happy as a clam if you'd be the first male editor interviewee on my site.

Poor Professor Pullum! It's true that he is amusing when riled, but his ability to be outraged by the simplest things is starting to become ridiculous. You get the feeling as he picks up speed going downhill that he should really come down a gear, but that he probably can't find the clutch.

Our word of the week:

Soviet speechwriters of the 1950s and '60s produced many a misplaced panegyric in honor of the Soviet leadership, whether it be Stalin, Khrushchev, or Brezhnev.

So what think ye readers - does a panegyric need to be in words? A number of coffee table books use photos only to pay homage to their chosen subject. Would they qualify for this grandest of descriptions?

Hacks, indeed. John Cowan's elegant takedown of Tutorial #1 is far more useful than the author's often misguided edits.

Shane, who wrote the tutorial, “corrected” the sentence:
“A custom header is best, something to let the reader know from the first second you and your blog are both unique”
“A custom header is a beacon shouting how unique you and your blog are.”

Beacons don't shout. I don't trust anything else he's going to say.

(Haven't tried the editor interviews yet.)

Linda: The editor interviews are fine; I read them first after glancing over Tutorial #1 and realizing I'd have to print it in two parts so I could easily flip from text to notes. Anyhow, my real message was "everything in moderation".

Picky: If I understood Pullum's rants as sincere outrage, I'd agree, but I see them as over-the-top outrage (remember the bit about not actually getting a loathsome skin disease from reading so-and-so's latest?), and as such I admire his control: he does pick up speed going down the mountain, but he never actually crashes.

Well, JohnC, I see the Economist's Johnson blog thought the professor lost control of the steering, and I agree.

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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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