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Report on ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida

By Berna Ozunal

This year, 591 people travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference held from March 23 to 25 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel—the second-highest attendance ever.

I went to St. Pete’s for a few reasons this year: I enjoyed last year’s conference in Portland and learned a lot, I seriously needed to “defrost,” and I was presenting a session.

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg has a population of just over 250,000. From the Tampa International Airport, it’s just a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride to the hotel.

I was told that March is the perfect time to travel to Florida, and it’s true. With highs between 24ºC and 28ºC, you are transported to another dimension—one where people do not walk around half the year swaddled like mummies in wool and down. (more…)

Webinar: What’s wrong with this sentence?

Correct usage of language is paramount to effective communication. The education system—from primary through post-secondary—does not offer students the tools needed for communicating effectively, whether verbally or in writing. The webinar is based on a workshop that was originally developed for the Canadian Authors’ Association national conference, and has since been presented to numerous groups, from university professors to public relations experts to journalists. It returns to the basics of language: when and how to use me, “myself, and I; clarifying appropriate adjectives and adverbs such as effective versus affective; avoiding split infinitives; the possessive apostrophe versus the contractive apostrophe; and dangling modifiers, among many other common usage issues.

The key concept of the webinar is that participants will gain (or possibly regain) a sense of the importance of correct usage of grammar and punctuation in the written and spoken word.

Date: Thursday, May 25
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Melanie Scott
Melanie Scott is freelance writer and the editor of the Low Down to Hull and Back News, an award-winning community newspaper based in Wakefield, QC.

Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar

What you learned in English class will help you with syntax about as much as what you learned in driving lessons will help you with mechanics—you get by fine until one day you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence with smoke coming out from under the hood. In this webinar, we’re going to learn how to take apart sentences the way a mechanic takes apart an engine.

The key learning objectives of this webinar are to

  • diagram sentences the way linguists do—accurately and elegantly,
  • learn about the building blocks of syntax,
  • clear up some common misunderstandings about verbs, nouns, and pronouns, and
  • dismantle and fix some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to apply “proper grammar.”

Date: Thursday, April 27
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75

Register HERE

james_harbeck
James Harbeck is a linguist, editor, and well-known writer and speaker on language. His articles appear regularly on websites such as TheWeek.com and BBC.com as well as on his own blog, Sesquiotica.

Webinar: Good grammar: It’s more than gut feel

Some writers have a good intuitive feel for grammatical correctness—or lack thereof. But professional editors need more than intuition; they need to be able to name the mistakes in order to explain their changes and help writers improve. Learn how to identify, name, and eliminate the most common grammatical gaffes, the ones that embarrass the writer and distract the reader. The instructor will also provide some useful print and online resources to help you continue your voyage of grammatical discovery.

The key learning objectives of the webinar are to

  • understand why it’s important to move beyond an intuitive sense of correctness,
  • identify common grammatical mistakes, name them, and correct them, and
  • explore practical and useful print and online resources for continuing to improve one’s grammar.

Date: Wednesday, March 15
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Margaret Chandler
Margaret Chandler teaches editing, grammar and style, and business writing at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. She also delivers diverse workshops and provides writing and editing services through Green Fuse Inc.

The Nitpicker’s Nook: November’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts from around the Web. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

The Nitpicker's NookBy Emily Chau

  • If you weren’t already convinced of the importance of proofreading, take a look at this major gaffe in an academic paper where a candid in-text query—“should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?”—was unintentionally published. This cringe-worthy mistake also highlights the importance of being diplomatic in your query notes. (Slate)
  • Are you a freelance editor with a Twitter account? Do you actively use it to engage with your clients? Here’s a delightful blog post on why editors love Twitter. (SfEP)
  • How well do you know your grammar? Writer and editor John E. McIntyre, one of the speakers at EAC’s Conference 2015—Editing Goes Global, posted a quick grammar quiz online. Test your knowledge now! (Baltimore Sun)
  • Our fellow EAC British Columbia branch participated in Communication Convergence in October, held in partnership with the Society for Technical Communication, to recognize and celebrate International Plain Language Day. (West Coast Editor)

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Book review: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker

By Ana Trask

If you want a comprehensive, in-depth guide that answers questions aboutSenseOfStyle grammar, usage, and style, turn to Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style, which was just released in September (2014).

There are different types of styles—plain, practical, classical, and postmodern—and they can overlap. Pinker is a proponent of classic prose, which steers clear of abstractions in favour of concrete examples. Why is this method so effective? Because, as Pinker explains, readers’ comprehension levels skyrocket when their sensory cortices are stimulated. “Fresh wording and concrete images force us to keep updating the virtual reality display in our minds.” That’s why writers should be cinematographers, using as many tools as needed to draw lucid and coherent—not to mention beautiful—pictures for their audience. Among these tools are metaphors, parallel syntax, phonesthetics (“the feeling of sound”), and zeugma (“the intentional juxtaposition of different senses of a word”).

If you are using classical style, you are engaging readers in a conversation, not attempting to impress them with your authority on a subject. “Classic writing, with its assumption of equality between writer and reader, makes the reader feel like a genius.” (more…)

Wordplay: None of these people are right

Wordplay is a regular column by editor and language writer James Harbeck in which he tastes and plays with English words and usages.

wordplay-logo

You have probably encountered, every now and then, people who will aver that none can take only a singular conjugation, never a plural: never none are, always none is.

The argument they present is based on the “it’s obvious” principle so beloved of amateur grammarians. This is the principle by which, for instance, many people will insist that anyways is bad English: “Any takes a singular, so it has to be way, not ways. It’s obvious.” Whenever someone presents an analysis whereby a common usage is “obviously” wrong, you can assume they’re misanalyzing—in the preceding example, for instance, the s is not a plural but an old genitive, originally there to make the word mean “of or by any way.”

The “it’s obvious” argument that is applied to none is as follows: “None comes from no one (or not one). One is singular. So none must be singular. It’s obvious.”
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