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Awaiting the storm

If you’re on the East Coast, buttoned down amid your stockpiles of bottled water and batteries, here are some things you can read as you wait for the power to fail.

Something to bookmark: At its website, The Chronicle of Higher Education has launched Lingua Franca, a blog on language and writing featuring five distinguished contributors: Lucy Ferriss, Allan Metcalf, Geoffrey K. Pullum, Carol Fisher Saller, and Ben Yagoda.

Among the initial posts is a reflection by Ms. Saller on consistency in copy editing, and when it shouldn’t matter so much.

For the nerds: Writing at The Boston Globe, the estimable Ben Zimmer reflects on the cloudy origins of the word nerd in the early 1950s, disposing along the way of some of the folk etymologies people have crafted.

Oh yeah, that: At HeadsUp, a salutary reminder: “News is supposed to be interesting for its own sake.”

Stay dry, people.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:16 AM | | Comments (5)


Lingua Franca: contributors distinguished; contributions somewhat less so?

Good luck this evening, John.

Nerd - the article was fine for the etymology, but missed the mark on the rebirth and popularization. That was not due to 1984's Revenge of the Nerds, but rather Happy Days on TV in the 70s.

How can I be so sure? It takes one to know one, of course.

Cheers from a nerd,

The hurricane having passed, our next entertainment is watching half the headline writers on the East Coast decide that "Good night, Irene" is both creative and original.

I'm so intrigued by the use of "buttoned down" when so many, in the event, are employing "battened" instead.

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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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