The Nitpicker’s Nook: December’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].

By Savanna Scott Leslie

The Nitpicker's Nook

  • Toronto-based Editors Canada member Emily Donaldson boasts a successful career as a book critic, writer, and editor. She shares some of her experiences as one of Canada’s most influential book reviewers and her thoughts on the country’s close-knit publishing community in an interview with Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. (CWILA)
  • What linguists have done recently is see a marked decline in the structure I used in this sentence. Mark Liberman explains that “to do” + verb constructions are losing popularity. I, for one, will welcome this decline in redundancy! (Language Log)
  • The times, they are a-changing—well, not the Times but the Post. Longtime copy editor for the Washington Post Bill Walsh announced a slew of changes to the paper’s style guide, including acceptance of the singular they. (Washington Post)
  • And, speaking of the Times, if you “literally cannot” with all those naysayers of the singular they, or if Liberman’s linguistic discovery “restores your faith in humanity,” you’ll want to read what the New York Times’ Jessica Bennett has to say about “The Hyperbole of Internet-Speak.” (New York Times)
  • It’s hard enough to make sense of English from a few centuries ago, but how do you track words’ evolution from a time that didn’t leave us any writing samples? The Ling Space, an ongoing YouTube series on linguistics, explains how the comparative method reveals what languages sounded like in the distant past. (The Ling Space)
  • Begging the question: the philosophy graduate in me compels me to change this expression to “raising the question” whenever a writer isn’t referring to a logical fallacy. But the part of me that embraces Bill Walsh’s forward-looking approach tells me I should stet. Stan Carey explains this usage battle. (Sentence First)
  • From gross misconduct, a gross of eggs, and gross profit to gross me out, the word gross covers a lot of ground. Arika Okrent explains how the word landed on its modern expression of disgust. (Mental Floss)

Savanna Scott Leslie is an editor and publishing consultant. She recently relocated from Toronto to Hamilton and is enamoured of all things #HamOnt. Her Twitter handle is @Savanna_SL.

This article was copy edited by Asha Bajaj.

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