Monthly Archives: March 2014

Peeving Las Vegas

‘Las Vegas’ is Spanish for ‘The Meadows’. This explains why it’s such a good place for gambolling.

I’m going to Vegas on Wednesday for the American Copy Editors Society annual conference. (For some reason, a lot of conferences are held there.) We’ll share tricks of the trade and chew over issues that arise in editing and how to handle them. I daresay we may chat about our grammar and usage pet peeves, and how mine are eminently reasonable and everyone else’s are outdated dogmas.

The American Copy Editors Society seems like a good thing. True, I’m not actually American, but I decided to exploit an ambiguity in the name: is it a society of American copy editors or an American society of copy editors? Hopefully the latter.

This will be my first trip to the US – in fact, my first trip out of Europe – so I’m looking forward to finding out what the place is really like. I’m sure Vegas is bound to be representative of the whole country.

But I’m not much of a traveller, not much of a sightseer. Even less of a gambler. The genuinely exciting bit for me is the conference. The line-up of sessions looks really interesting, and there are a lot of editors I slightly know online who it’ll be great to meet in person.

So, in between shopping and packing and making lists, I’m trying to get myself into an American mindset. Color center trashcan aluminum gray sidewalk defense yee-haw!

And I’m really going to enjoy spending some quiet time in those meadows.

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Editorial haiku

I forgot to mention the annual grammar haiku competition, which was judged last week. The standard was delightfully high, as ever, and I recommend you read the winners – led by Nancy Friedman’s.

My own entry came fourth:

Editing yourself
Is like cutting your own hair
You will miss a bit

See also my efforts from previous years. Or not.

How the Grinch Stole Grammar!

(With apologies to Dr Seuss)

Every Who down in Who-ville liked English a lot
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
Whenever he thought of the language, he’d languish
In horrified anger and furious anguish!
But the funny thing was that beneath all this hate
He somehow believed, well, that English was great.
But it wasn’t the English the Whos wrote and spoke –
No! THAT made him scowl! Made him fume! Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE!

So what on earth was it the innocent Whos
Were doing so wrong with the language they’d use?
If you were to walk into Who-ville one day
You’d see lots of people with fine things to say.
They’d joke and exclaim and they’d promise and sing,
They’d chat and debate – yes, they’d do anything
That this wonderfully versatile language can do,
And all would be happy – except you-know-who!

The Grinch couldn’t stand it! It just wasn’t RIGHT!
He’d wince at the sound and recoil at the sight
Of the writing and speech that prevailed in the town,
That were dragging the standards of English right down.
“They’re lazy and loose in the use of our tongue,”
He muttered one day, when he felt highly strung.
“With their texts and their tweets and their ignorant yammer
They vandalise words and they ruin good grammar!
They break half the rules, and the others they bend;
If all this continues, then where will it end?”
With that, he resolved that it HAD to be stopped
So he got on his horse and he clipped and he clopped
And he rode into Who-ville, and reached the town square
And he gruffly addressed the large crowd he found there. Continue reading