The fine newsletter Copy Editor is celebrating its 10th year. As part of the observance, the editors have compiled a supplement that includes many of their favorite articles, arranged in a year-by-year format. One of the items is a mini-lecture for writers, copy editors and, indeed, all of us who use the language. This is one Rosie thinks we should all take to heart:
"The meaning of Christian has changed, say many people who study the English language. The word used to describe anyone who believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, many people use it to denote only fundamentalist Christians. Moreover, many people infuse the word with what they consider to be negative characteristics of fundamentalist Christians, such as intolerance and narrow-mindedness.
Language experts urge writers and editors to return the word to its broad meaning."
One of the benefits of writing a column about words is the way it almost forces you to watch every word and phrase you see while you are reading. Here are a few examples Rosie stumbled on this week:
"What with cell phones and palm pilots and satellite-controlled pagers and messagers, the world is too much with us.
If you are out of pocket, you are considered to be somewhat out to lunch. If you are off the scope, society thinks you must be off you rocker." -William Safire's column in The New York Times, June 8, 2000.
"`Both funeral directors and poets favor wearing black,' he notes. `Plus, both groups have a penchant for free drink and horizontal bodies.'" found in the arts section of the same New York Times in an article about Thomas Lynch, who is both a funeral director and a poet.
Department of Unfortunate Phraseology:
"A new breed of virus targets handheld devices
." Computer security experts intercepted a new virus designed to attack cell phones with text capabilities, posing a threat to handheld computers, pagers and phones that are exploding in use worldwide." From CNN.com, June 7.
Rosie would hate to have her cell phone explode in her ear.Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), letter (1118 W. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23220), fax (359-9089) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org