9/28/2011

Good edits make Mr. Rewrite want to boogie, man

Alert the media: Mr. Rewrite made an error. On deadline the other day and seeing no entry in the AP Stylebook, he whipped out iPhone version of Webster's New World College Dictionary and changed a reference from boogeyman to bogeyman.

Mistake -- at least if one is bound by AP style.

Mr. Rewrite's error is no great sin, as the dictionary has entries for both versions. But upon checking the dead-trees version the next day Mr. Rewrite realized that the New World gives more ink to boogeyman. Bogeyman appears in its own entry, but it doesn't do much other than point to boogeyman.

For matters not covered by its stylebook, AP relies on the New World's first entry.

That's good enough for Mr. Rewrite. Boogeyman it is. Time to boogie.

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The Best Grammar Blog of 2011 nomiee


Mr. Rewrite is more than a little skeptical of the motives behind this, but for kicks and giggles he'll mention that some outfit called Grammar.net, which touts an online grammar checker and is stuffed with ads, lists Mr. Rewrite among its nominees for Best Grammar Blog of 2011. He figures it's just a cynical ploy to have language blogs, no doubt assembled from a Google search, point to Grammar.net with the widget above. But feel free to vote. It would be fun to unfairly beat a real site such as Grammar Girl in a contest that means nothing.

Meanwhile, check out this woefully ambiguous pronoun use in Grammar.net's blog, along with incorrect comma use and incorrect handling of capitalization after a colon:
"Hyphenation is like kitchen spice: use them correctly, and they can sharpen writing and give it a better texture. When used incorrectly or overused, they can garble the piece and make it difficult to read."

Yikes. They and them relate inelegantly back to the singular hyphenation (changing to "hyphens are" would fix this). The comma after correctly is used incorrectly, at least according to AP style. If the following clause were independent (able to stand as its own sentence) then and would be a coordinating conjunction and a comma would be in order. If the passage after a colon can be a complete sentence, capitalize the first word, per AP style.

All that said, be sure to vote -- early and often. Engage your friends and relatives. Let's win this sham contest for dear ol' Mr. Rewrite!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mr. Rewrite, you are so wise. I wish I had seen this post before got involved in this "contest." What a mess it has been. The folks at GrammarNet clearly have no idea how to run an Internet contest, but they sure know how to get others to do their viral marketing for them. BTW, I noticed the same sentence about hyphenation that you quote. What a disgraceful mess from a company that wants you to hand over your money so they can correct your grammar. No thanks. I know how to choose antecedents. (Is that the correct spelling? Crap, there's no spell-checker for comments.)

Mr. Rewrite said...

Grammar.net clearly didn't read Mr. Rewrite's post. In return for the link to the contest, folks there sent a tweet promoting his candidacy in that sham contest. Worse, Grammar Girl, who didn't fall for it, still received more votes. Sigh.