Articles about "Grammar and style"


oxford

AP Style should adopt the Oxford comma

It’s great to see that Nate Silver’s 538 is finally hitting its stride. Stepping aside from the conflicts of politics and sports, the data site has decided to weigh in on a controversy that truly ignites the passion of partisans. Forget Red States versus Blue States, campers. Forget Brazil vs. Argentina in the World Cup. Want to see the fur fly? Debate the Oxford comma.

The Oxford or serial comma (which I prefer) is the one that comes before the “and” in a series such as: “Kelly, Al, Kenny, Ellyn, Jill, Butch, and Roy teach at Poynter.” AP style, which Poynter follows, omits that final comma, leaving “Butch and Roy” attached like “Siegfried and Roy.”

I devote a chapter in my book “The Glamour of Grammar” to my preference for that final comma, and now believe that AP style should now include it.… Read more

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Pollard

The ‘cinematic slow-motion effect’ of Laura Hillenbrand’s ‘Seabiscuit’

[What we all need leading up to a Triple Crown horse race is an essay about the rhetoric of punctuation. So here it is, adapted from a chapter in my book The Glamour of Grammar. Don’t worry, there is an actual connection to horse racing. I have chosen to analyze a special passage from a special book, Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand. A close reading of her prose will reveal how a champion among writers uses every trick in the book to create special literary effects.]

Whenever we concentrate on the rules of grammar and punctuation, we run the risk of veiling the creativity and flexibility available to authors who think of them as tools of meaning and effect.

Let’s take as an example a splendid passage from Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book Seabiscuit, a stirring narrative history of one of America’s legendary racehorses.… Read more

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Journalists react to AP’s state-names change

On Wednesday, the Associated Press announced another style change that seemed to cause more teeth-grinding and head-shaking. Starting May 1, the news co-op said, we’ll spell out state names within the bodies of stories rather than abbreviate them.

In March, Poynter wrote about the news that the AP removed the distinction between over and more than. Here’s how that one went over.

I gathered some reactions across Facebook, Twitter and our comments section on the state names news.

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How did you/will you remember the spellings of state names?

Now that we’ll be spelling state names out in full, perhaps this is merely a way to remember that there was, once, another way.

Do you have any tips or tricks that helped you remember the shortened version of state names? (Before I came to Poynter, most of my reporting happened in Missouri, which was easy with just Mo.) But what about Pennsylvania (Pa.)? Wisconsin (always Wis., never Wisc.)?

And now that things are changing, do you have any tips or tricks that help you remember how to spell those names out correctly? Other than consulting the AP Stylebook, the dictionary or Google?

My editor, Andrew Beaujon, uses this Sammy Kershaw song to help him remember how to spell Tennessee.

And of course, there’s “Oklahoma!”

Tweet your ideas to me @kristenhare or email them to khare@poynter.org.… Read more

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states_small_depositphotos

AP: Spell out names of states in stories

AP is not done rocking the journalism world with style changes.

The following guidance went out on the AP wire Wednesday: “Effective May 1, the AP will spell out state names in the body of stories.” You will still use abbreviations in datelines, photo captions, lists, etc.

The change “also applies to newspapers cited in a story,” the guidance says. “For example, a story datelined Providence, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (R.I.) Journal.” (For what it’s worth, you don’t have to call that jurisdiction the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” Rhode Island works fine.)

Full note: … Read more

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pencils over black_depositphotos

AP Stylebook update: A sign of our times

People are freaking out over an update to the AP Stylebook, the equivalent of canon law for journalists. AP Style now tells us that “more than” and “over” are interchangeable. It’s as if Big Brother has just suggested that what was true yesterday, is no longer true today.

Not all people are freaking out, of course. But a lot of people are, especially journalists, and also English majors. The people who love word craft are visibly upset. You can tell by tracking #ACES2014 on Twitter.

For the uninitiated, until this update, “more than” was used when referring to numbers. “Over” was appropriate when talking about the physical relationship of two objects.

On this issue, you could divide the world into three categories of people.… Read more

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Grammar

Let grammar know who’s boss

So Tuesday is National Grammar Day. The first time I heard of that celebration, I thought that Poynter’s Vicki Krueger had said “National Grandma Day.”  I’m not sure it’s a good thing that grammar – especially in New England – sounds something like grandma. I prefer to remember that at one time in the history of the English language the words grammar and glamour were the same word! (That deserves an exclamation point, don’t you think?)

But even as we spend the day recognizing the importance of grammar, the question remains, “Which grammar?” Is it prescriptive grammar day, where we would mark people off for violations of standard English? Or is it descriptive grammar day, when linguists get all huffy about the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of the language scolds among us.… Read more

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Taser is not a verb, says Taser

KATU morning producer Jennifer Kubus asked a good question on Twitter:

 

And Taser replied.

 

Nobody asked me, but I went ahead and said that I thought it was too late to put a lid on that usage. … Read more

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AP has a new plugin for copyediting within web-based content management systems. (Depositphotos)

AP’s new Lingofy plugin is like a robot copy editor

Associated Press

Lingofy is a browser plugin that “checks website content for AP Stylebook’s spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style guidelines,” the Associated Press says in a press release. The for-purchase plugin also checks against Webster’s New World College Dictionary, the primary dictionary for the AP Stylebook.

Automated checkers aren’t new for AP — it introduced its StyleGuard in 2011, a plugin that checks writing done in Microsoft Word. Lingofy works for people writing directly into a CMS they access via a web browser. Users can add stylebook entries, and its dictionaries “improve over time,” the AP says. “The longer you use Lingofy, the more the system can learn about your unique writing style and the better the software gets at spotting errors and suggesting corrections.”

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NPR will use term ‘Obamacare’ less

Maynard Institute | Associated Press
NPR standards editor Stuart Seidel asked reporters and editors to “avoid overusing ‘Obamacare’” after the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince wrote him saying “the term can no longer be defended as neutral.”

Seidel’s memo, Prince writes, says:

“‘Obamacare’ seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular.

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