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Now we are six

On the twentieth of December in 2005 I wrote and posted the first entry on this blog. My previous efforts at haranguing people about language and usage had been limited to writing an in-house newsletter at The Sun called Publish and Be Damned and presenting workshops at conferences of the American Copy Editors Society and for clients. With You Don’t Say, I have acquired over the past six years a platform and an audience.

Those of you who have been along for the ride from the beginning will have seen how much my views have been altered through exchanges with linguists and other editors. Exchange of views has led, as it should, to examination of the rules and usage advice that copy editors take as given. Some of them turned out to be not rules at all, some of them dated and outworn, some of them not worth the time and trouble.

The more than 1,700 posts here and at the [cough] hiatus [cough] site have been a long-term sifting, an effort to arrive at things that are essential to the craft.* Those of you who have hopped onto the carousel more recently are welcome to explore past posts.

No small component of the value of this blog—presuming to say that it has value—has come from the comments, some of them learned, some snippy, some funny, all welcome. We have been able to have conversations here, and I have enjoyed them all, even in the comment drift. Sometimes especially because of the comment drift.

Six years on, and I’m still finding errors to grouse about, books to recommend, follies and pretensions to mock. Great fun, and I mean to go on as long as I still have things to say. It’s been grand to spend time with all of you. Keep coming back.


Also, I neglected to link yesterday to the word of the week. It’s unctuous.


*Yes, yes, I know that some of them have been video barroom jokes and some of them digressions into politics and cookery and ecclesiology and personal reminiscence. Editing is great fun, but it’s not the only fun.



Posted by John McIntyre at 9:48 AM | | Comments (9)


Happy anniversary!

You're an editor's editor, John. Thanks for continuing to share your insights, wisdom, and occasional reminders to not take ourselves too seriously. Here in the paragraph factory, it's always important to remember that when we do our jobs correctly, we are unnoticed.

Awww... I enjoy your bog ;) sooo much, John. Happy birthday to all of us... to the blog (the blog writer included) and to the fans! Thank you for the great help and advices. From Argentina, with love. :)

Congratulations on six terrific years, and best wishes for many more to come. Fortunately for us, neither the English language nor its practitioners and pedants appear to be in any danger of exhausting the supply of errors, follies, and pretensions.

Your voice is an island of peace for me, sir, in a world of insanity. I pray you will stay in my sights .... forever.

Whatever your preferred greeting is for this season, I'm sending it.

Great love. Thank you. We are 100%!

Here's to Wordville!

Thank God, and you, dear professor, for the "ecclesiology"....... and the engaging conversation....... and your imparted wisdom of words and philosophy, the illumination, your erudition, your personal anecdotes........ and last but not least, the humor. Ah, the humor. The entire ball of wax, as it were.

Congrats, John, on keeping this 'ship' masterfully afloat, and on course over these past six years; always full-steam-ahead w/ a few to-be-expected squalls, and stormy bits* along the way. The vagaries of journalistic climes are clearly never predictable. Vigilance, and doggedness are virtues in this oft treacherous enterprise. (Case in point, the mini-mutiny, of sorts, after The Sun's paywall took effect, a while back. I really miss a regular Picky and the always informative Mr. John Cowan. Oh well.)

Having been on board for barely two seasons, I still, at times, feel like a newcomer to this fun and most instructive online forum. Not that I don't feel welcomed and embraced by your loyal motley crew members. Generally a good, intelligent bunch.

I'm heartened to have discovered this daily respite of sanity, and good cheer, this island in the stream of shared consciousness a few years back, constantly buffeted on the twin high seas of Lexicon and Grammar, forging ever onward, skirting the Isle of Wit (not Wight HA!), while negotiating the ofttimes dire Straits of Prescriptivism, and finding occasional solace and safe harbor in the calmer waters of bucolic Descriptivist Cove.

Captain McIntyre, sail on intrepid editor. There are still new geographies of the language to discover, explore and ruminate over, and rest assured your loyal crew is w/ you for the duration, where ever this fantastic voyage may take us.

Avast ye maties! Batten the hatches! Full steam** ahead!

* That %$#(@#$ forced 'hiatus' for one.

**Some might argue that most of the "steam" I provide on this site amounts to a lot of hot air.


What Eve said.

May I just say thank you for referencing what may be my favourite poem of all time? Also, for everything else. Some of my colleagues tease me when I mention "my favourite copy-editing blog," but I feel I have learned a great deal from you and the rest of the community here, even when I disagree (which of course happens rarely).

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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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