Everybody Tweet Now

Confession time: I have a bit of a Twitter problem. I follow over 1200 different accounts, and probably add another each day. I am not enough of a photographer, or even enough of a visually oriented person, for Instagram. Facebook increasingly annoys me with its endless ads and its “pivot to video.” (WHY.) Twitter is where I’m going to spend (or waste, depending on your point of view) most of my screwing-around-online time.

Sometimes I just let the Twitter timeline wash over me in one big stream, and enjoy the crazy, constantly updated mix of content. But because I follow a lot of accounts, I also make use of lists. I’ve got a list for “breaking news,” a list for Chicago-centric stuff, a “literary” list, with my favorite writers and magazines, and lists for hockey and football. (Go Hawks/Bears!)

(And of course: Make sure you follow the AMA Manual of Style! Follow @AMAManual! Or forever drift, rudderless, through a sea of regret!)

I also follow several novelty accounts, just for the laughs, like the one that tells you every Wednesday that it is Wednesday. With a Budgett’s frog.

Okay, that’s silly (albeit awesome). However, it occurred to me that a few of those novelty accounts are (vaguely) (very vaguely) editing-related. For instance, I follow That’s Not A Word (@nixicon), where a dedicated linguistics scholar laboriously retweets instances of people on Twitter claiming something is not a word.

 

(For an entertaining, conducted-over-Twitter argument about something not being a word, see the Language Log’s summary of the dust-up between linguist Ben Zimmer (@bgzimmer) and The Atlantic about whether “gift” can be a verb. (Spoiler: of course it can.)

And finally, just for the delicious irony: it’s always nice to see @whostheidiotnow pop up in my feed, an account that collects and retweets people who say “your [sic] an idiot” to other people on Twitter. Warning: there are a LOT of idiots out there. Apparently.—Brenda Gregoline, ELS

 

 

“NEW YEARS RULIN’S”

As a long-time manuscript editor, it’s not often that I come across things that are full of grammatical errors, but don’t need a lick of editing and are perfect just as they are.

I’ve had Woody Guthrie’s NEW YEARS RULIN’S tacked up in my cube for a while now, and periodically take it down and examine it and marvel at it.

These RULIN’S  are as good as any life advice from any philosopher. What better advice could a person offer than, for instance, to Love Everybody, Learn People Better, Read Lots Good Books, Stay Glad, or Keep Hoping Machine Running—not to mention Dream Good and Change Socks? I love his little sketches and “Middle of Book” note.

I don’t know if Woody was laying on the rustic, ungrammatical charm in his RULIN’S, but I wouldn’t change a thing if asked to edit this advice for a good life.—Karen Boyd

New-Fangled Help for the Grammar Police

I’d been pondering what to write about next for our AMA Style blog, and by happy coincidence someone sent me a link to a Mental Floss article about a great new iMessage app for those manuscript editors and proofreaders who get a little twitch whenever they receive a text from someone with a free-wheelin’ approach to spelling and grammar: the appropriately named Grammar Snob by Apps From Outer Space LLC, available at iTunes. At $0.99, this seems like a real  bargain for grammar cops, maybe youthful ones especially, because errors are corrected by using stickers. Or maybe I should say eStickers. “Tap and hold to peel them off so you can place them in just the right spot,” instructs the website, which also features iMessage screenshots of Grammar Snobbery in action. (Fortunately for my friends and family members, I do not own an iPhone, so I will not be terrorizing them with these grammar stickers any time soon.)

But I can’t help wondering about whether using eStickers could possibly be as satisfying as stealth-proofreading with a real pencil or pen. I know that compulsive correctors are out there…I’ve seen the discreet notations in library books and signs in the train station elevator, to name a few. Besides typos, misuse of plurals and apostrophes seems to inspire the most common calls to action: “condo’s for rent,” “girl’s night out,” “the Smith’s party.” Here’s a good one from Apostrophe Abuse: “Cheffin’s Cheesesteak’s and Cubano’s.” In 2014, Grammarly had “a cut-throat competition to determine the most ‘maddening, writing error concluded… with MISUSED APOSTROPHES crowned as the undisputed Grammar Madness bracket champion” (eg, “Deep Fried Oreo’s”). These are the types of errors that editors and proofreaders sometimes cannot leave uncorrected. We just can’t help ourselves. So when faced with an error that needs to be corrected in a friend’s ungrammatical text, the Grammar Snob app is a nice resource to add to our editorial “armamentarium,” although you may not be surprised to learn that it will likely “turn you into a super annoying person.”Karen Boyd

 

When Worlds Collide

Hooray for grammar! AMA Style Insider was pleased and surprised to find our humble blog linked from the website of Midwestern singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. Subjects, objects, Miley Cyrus, and AMA style—it’s all coming together.—Brenda Gregoline, ELS

Non-Human Users of the Manual

Okay, perhaps he’s not “using” the AMA Manual of Style, but he’s certainly looking very handsome near several editions of it! I’d say he was “gobbling” up style advice, but that might make you want to stab yourself in the eye with the Manual’s sharp corner. And yet I said it anyway. Happy Thanksgiving!

Connie does yoga in the office 03-02-11

This is Conrad, a wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) befriended by Melissa L. Bogen, ELS. This is the second time we’ve featured a pet with the Manual. Should it become a theme?—Brenda Gregoline, ELS

Ode to the Style Manual

(A poem from a hardcore user of the AMA Manual.) (No, not the cat.)

I study the Manual each day and each night

Coming away with equal questions and answers

Seeking all ways to be right

Are you a temporary compound, both sides with a tall, proud face
or are you with us permanently but deserve only lower case.

Are you a word just colloquial–or maybe even worse–

The ever-intrusive –ology (ie, completely perverse)

Have you been with us 5 times or more

Making a point so precise and succinct

Or are you here fewer times but wind up using more ink

It’s often exhausting, I must admit

I feel like I’m chasing elusive catnip

Each time I move close to the intoxicating scent

I discover new Elements that were recently sent

They arrive in my inbox with regular speed

And though I accept them, I must concede

I’d rather they land in another box I need

I give up and lay (or lie?) down

Staring off into space

Who knew that reading required such mental pace

But eventually I notice the pillow I chose

The source of all I have said

Provides a solid foundation from which to function

Indeed, a good place for my head

Finally

I must admit to own

The penultimate of nerdity

In my discomfort with the structure of

A poem on editing’s absurdity—Donna J. Thordsen