Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Copy Editing and 'The Wire'

"Apropos of Nothing" at New York Magazine looks at the depiction of a copy editing issue.
When we complained yesterday about a curmudgeonly copy editor's opinions on the proper use of the word "evacuate" in the Wire premiere, we never in our wildest dreams imagined the response we would get — not only from Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large, but from David Simon himself! Merriam-Webster's Peter Sokolowski, using the handle "MERRIAM_WEBSTER" (heh), commented on our post, pointing us to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage's article on this very subject. Summarizes Sokolowski: "This was indeed a usage controversy until about WWII, by which time the 'remove (people)' sense had taken firm hold. According the MWDEU: 'The respectability of this sense is no longer subject to question.'"

The argument about "evacuate" reminds me of an editor I knew who wouldn't allow the use of "during" because of the different ways it could be interpreted. You could look it up!

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