Thursday, March 10, 2011

Around the Word

Editors are silent heroes no more, at least not where Hugo Lindgren's concerned. On March 6th, the New York Times Magazine debuted its new Lindgren-era look (he succeeds Gerry Marzorati as the magazine's editor-in-chief). Among other changes, all  feature stories now end, movie-style, with the pieces' editorial credits. But are editor credits necessary, useful, or, to those outside the biz, even interesting? At Slate, Jack Shafer weighs in with a resounding "no." "I can understand that only as a vanity play to make them feel good about themselves," he writes, citing the new practice as reflective of "the growing fetishization of credit-making and -taking in our culture." What do you think--increased transparency or editorial vanity?

"If you die in some states and your son is appointed to handle your estate, he is the 'executor.' If it’s your daughter, she is the 'executrix.'" The Columbia Journalism Review takes on the history--and politics--of gendered "nouns of agency," from waitress to aviatrix to comedienne.

On the eve of International Grammar Day (March 4), a debate raging about the proper use of "whose" caused Visual Thesaurus' Neal Whitman to wonder: where can you turn when you're in a standard-usage pickle? We blogged about various crowd-sourced Q&A options here, but Whitman has older-school resources in mind. His first pick is the trusty Oxford English Dictionary, a tome (and corresponding website) lauded for its extensive and dispute-arbiting etymologies. Much cheaper is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, which Whitman calls the "go-to source for questions about when and how just about any prescriptive rule of English grammar came to be." Finally, he recommends the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, a "doorstop" of a comprehensive guide. Whether you're on board with Whitman's choices or you've got some lesser-known tricks up your sleeve, we want to know: what's in your writerly library?

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