Style Manual Gang Violence!

From The Onion (America’s Finest News Source), “4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence“:

NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style. “At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.” “The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.” Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

This is why I had to leave New York; I have a family, and they don’t have this kind of thing in rural Hadley. But my heart is with my people. Chicago 4 lyfe! (Also, I note with regret that the carnage has left the ranks so depleted that even The Onion, America’s Finest News Source, finds itself publishing things like “the The Associated Press Stylebook.” I’m pouring out a growler of printer’s ink for my lost comrades.)

Comments

  1. “an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

    Someone’s looking for trouble.

  2. Joe Gould says:

    Fortunately, The Onion failed to report on the role played by the Bluebook followers, devotees and zealots in this war. Moreover, the less one knows about them, the better, but let it be noted here that the merits of the directives found in the Bluebook (now in its 20th edition) are the subject of fierce disputes among lawyers. So fierce is any argument about a Bluebook directive that the lawyers ‘discussing’ the matter make the most litigious lawyer look like Harvey Milquetoast.

    ‘Nuff said.

  3. I’m sure that was quite deliberate: The Associated Press Stylebook is an arthrous (not anarthrous) name.

  4. But one does not add an extra “the” before such names. I delete them with extreme prejudice whenever I get the chance.

  5. Sure, and so would I. I was just cracking wise; if The New York Times wants a four-word name, they shouldn’t balk at being called “the The New York Times newspaper”, staffed by some The New York Times reporters, editors, etc.

  6. And they should move their offices to the La Brea Tar Pits.

  7. The site of the tar pits makes a point to market the place as “Rancho La Brea,” presumably at least in part to avoid that particular silliness.

  8. They should have doubled down with “The El Rancho La Brea Tar Pits.”

  9. I thought there is something familiar with this report and indeed the byline is January 7, 2013. Happy 2nd anniversary of the carnage.

  10. Oops, it is the third anniversary.

  11. @The El Rancho La Brea Tar Pits:

    Then there’s always the Rio Grande river.

  12. If I go to the El Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, can I buy a snack with con queso cheese?

  13. I’ve mentioned this before on more than one site, so apologies if this is one of them: I have eaten a roast beef sandwich “with au jus sauce”. I believe the restaurant was in Ohio – and the sandwich was quite tasty.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    MH: I have eaten a roast beef sandwich “with au jus sauce”.

    So have I, occasionally, in some North American places. Le jus is ‘juice’ rather than ‘sauce’, but perhaps “roast beef with its own juice” would not be as appealing as the exotic-looking au jus ‘with (its) juice’ and the reassurance of “sauce”, which is at least recognizable to English speakers. Most French sauces are thicker than just meat juice.

  15. “Au gratin with cheese” recipes are all over this internet of ours.

  16. marie-lucie says:

    I occasionally read stuff in the French press, and even though the proportion of French people having some useful knowlege of English is undoubtedly larger than the proportion of English speakers with some useful knowledge of French, there are often *howlers* in how to translate or adapt English words and sentences. Since French people are exposed to a lot of poorly translated English (especially American) articles and other texts, some obvious “Frenglish translationese” features have entered the French language, not only introducing English structures into written French but also causing some French features which have no obvious equivalents in English to be forgotten.

    Sorry if I repeat myself whenever the topic comes up!

  17. marie-lucie says:

    So I tend to be lenient towards English speakers’ errors in French.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    there are often *howlers* in how to translate or adapt English words and sentences

    Lots of professional English-to-German translators have no idea that freshwater isn’t just literally fresh water.

  19. JC: I’m sure that was quite deliberate: The Associated Press Stylebook is an arthrous (not anarthrous) name.

    Hat: But one does not add an extra “the” before such names. I delete them with extreme prejudice whenever I get the chance.

    NYT preserves the ‘the’ when it uses the complete name of the organization. I’m quite sure I’ve seen this in other papers as well.

    Curiously, AP itself is inconsistent in applying the arthrous form on its own website. For openers, check out the copyright notice at the bottom, and the About Us and AP’s History pages.

  20. NYT preserves the ‘the’ when it uses the complete name of the organization. I’m quite sure I’ve seen this in other papers as well.

    Even when that means a double “the,” as in “the The Associated Press Stylebook”? I’m going to want to see some documentation on that.

  21. Lots of professional English-to-German translators have no idea that freshwater isn’t just literally fresh water.

    Polish is like German in this respect, and I’ve seen sweet water fish in Polish-to-English translations.

  22. No, they just reword, so that “a New York Times reporter” becomes “a reporter for The New York Times”, etc. Unexceptionable grammatically, but an annoying tic and (I assume) a bloody pain for their copy editors to maintain.

  23. @Piotr, just within Scandinavia Danish has ferskvand, Swedish has sötvatten — but I don’t think I’ve seen any translational blunders. Well known false friends in the relevant circles, I suppose.

  24. No, they just reword . . . a bloody pain for their copy editors

    Yup! (Though I’m sure many homes for the insane have been filled by people trying to toe the Bluebook line.)

  25. David Marjanović says:

    Danish has ferskvand

    Oh, so English isn’t the only one in Europe! Spoilsports Wohl den Dänen und denen, denen die Dänen wohl sind.

  26. English has East Slavic on its side. In Russian, fresh water is пре́сная (an adjective also used to describe unleavened bread), a relative of English fresh.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    Curiouser and curiouser. 🙂 A Viking connection, and Swedish later borrowed the alternative from Low German?

  28. marie-lucie says:

    In French, ‘freshwater’ is l’eau douce, literally ‘sweet water’ as opposed to l’eau salée ‘salt water’, so ‘a freshwater fish’ is un poisson d’eau douce. L’eau fraîche means ‘cool water’. But there are uses of frais/fraîche which are closer to that of English ‘fresh, freshly’ implying ‘newly’. One example is frais émoulu (de l’école, etc) for a boy or man just out of a school, of the army, and similar places where a young man might be expected to spend a stage of his life just before adulthood. The phrase is somewhat literary in a pompous or jocular manner now. I don’t remember encountering a feminine form, but it must exist: fraîche émoulue …. I don’t think you can be émoulu(e) from anything without the rest of the phrase.

  29. Danish was clever enough to borrow MLG versch in two forms, so l’eau fraîche would be det friske vand (unlike l’eau douce, which is det ferske vand as mentioned).

    Swedish only borrowed fräsch and needed another solution.

  30. Wohl den Dänen und denen, denen die Dänen wohl sind.

    I don’t even know how to say that in English, even without the pun. “Up the Danes!” is fine, but the construction doesn’t work with a relative clause.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    How about “All well to the Danes and to those to whom the Danes are well(-inclined)”?

  32. Nah, “All well to the Danes” is just un-English. “All well” says everything is fine; it does not wish anybody well.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Danish “vand”

    I wonder what the -n- is doing in this word.

  34. The -n- is just minding its own business, cf. Book Norwegian vann. The -d is mute, and an orthographic oddity — -nd may once have denoted a palatalized nasal in some words, an original cluster in others, but it has spread a little at random, perhaps to mark short vowels*, perhaps to distinguish homographs, perhaps just because, since that disappeared.

    Just maybe -tn became a palatal nasal and was respelled -nd, but I don’t know.

    _______________________________
    * Danish and Swedish both used to have obligatory syllable length, with short vowels before long consonants and clusters and long vowels otherwise. (This was after Old Norse; danified Norwegian has the later stage described below but I don’t know if it’s native or imposed, or what the situation is in Nynorsk).

    Consonant length has since been lost, but consonants are still written double to mark short vowels — except that Danish does not do it at the end of words. So hund (dog) unambiguously has a short vowel (and stød), hun (she / female animal) is short too but you have to look at the definite form to know: hunden/hunnen.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    “Wellness unto the Danes”? 🙂

    Consonant length has since been lost

    Not in Swedish, though people seem to be arguing if it’s still phonemic in the standard.

  36. True, I was confused there. I get along just fine with short consonants when talking to Swedes, though. It’s when I ignore voicing distinctions in Auslaut that they get confused…

    And wouldn’t it be hard to make minimal pairs for consonant length if it’s 100% conditioned by the length of the preceding vowel? Which is claimed to have been the case in Swedish for the last 500 years.

  37. Greekness unto me that would be, alas.

    “All praise to the Danes, and to those who the Danes praise” is the best I can do so far, and it is still very formal and stuffy, even without whom (a word used in English solely to convey pomposity).

  38. Why not eliminate it? “All praise to the Danes, and to those the Danes praise.” Much better rhythm.

  39. This is starting to remind me of the legendary French schoolboy who rendered Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes as J’estime les Danois et leurs dents de fer.

  40. The Equator, we are told by similar logic, is a menagerie lion running around the Earth and through Africa.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    RC: the legendary French schoolboy who rendered Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes as J’estime les Danois et leurs dents de fer.

    Legendary indeed. By the time a student had reached the level where he (they were all he’s at the time) would be confronted with this sentence, he would know better.

    JC: whom (a word used in English solely to convey pomposity).

    Perhaps you would use it intentionally that way, but it seems to me that it is used by many people who were never taught (or have forgotten) the difference with who and think that whom must be the correct choice in all circumstances.

    I think people are confused with a) its frequency in the KJV Bible, especially with sentences starting with “Whomsoever”, and b) the confusing phrases “all of whom”, “both of whom”, and similar quantifier phrases, which can be used as Subjects but where only “whom” is grammatical: “all of who” is not, even as Subject, while “many who …” is OK. This is because of the preposition, not the following verb. Oh, the subtleties of Standard English!

  42. Actually, all of who is fine in sentences like Celebrate all of who you are, where the clause who you are is the prepositional object. In general, whom is absolutely required in contemporary Standard English only after a preposition, and even then preposition stranding will eliminate 95% of its uses. In place of all of whom I would normally promote the relative clause to a full sentence and use all of them.

    This Language Log post demonstrates modern use of whom in (unhistorical) subject position: it is a formality marker and nothing else.

  43. Trond Engen says:

    “All praise to the Danes, and to those the Danes praise.” Much better rhythm.

    Yes. But like all poetry it should be reinvented rather than translated. (No. gjendikte poetry vs. oversette prose.)

    How about “To you who woo the Hutu, and to you who the Hutu woo,”

    In Norwegian I might just use the similar wordplay Hadde jeg hatt den hatten jeg hadde hatt, så hadde jeg hatt en hatt..

  44. (Man, 2000 seems like just yesterday…)

  45. “John, where James had had ‘had’, had had ‘had had’; ‘had had’ had had the teacher’s approval.” (This is usually written without punctuation as a puzzle.)

  46. marie-lucie says:

    JC: This Language Log post (about a banner consisting of a large American flag with a text written on the white stripes) demonstrates modern use of whom in (unhistorical) subject position: it is a formality marker and nothing else.

    I like Geoff Pullum’s comment: “Whom is like some strange object — a Krummhorn, a unicycle, a wax cylinder recorder — found in grandpa’s attic: people don’t want to throw it out, but neither do they know what to do with it. So they keep it around, sticking an m on the end of who every now and then when it seems like an important occasion.”

    But I am not sure it is just a formality marker, used by people who would use who in non-formal contexts and were aware of it. I remember a mature student who wrote me a note about why she was eager to learn French: to be on an equal footing with her husband and daughter whom both speak it. I think that such people feel that plain who is incorrect or low-class (except perhaps as the first word in a question), on a par with ain’t and other usually frowned-upon usages. In that woman’s case, whom here must also have been influenced by both of whom, which would have been standard. After all, “both he and she” = “he and she both”, so “both of whom”= “whom both”.

    The fact that the text superimposed on the American flag also has thiefs for thieves seems to suggest a lack of full acquaintance with Standard English, rather than just a desire for formality.

  47. marie-lucie says:

    Trond: How about “To you who woo the Hutu, and to you who the Hutu woo,”

    I have always assumed that Hutu was pronounced like “Hootoo”, but the sentence is even more puzzling if the word is pronounced “You too”. Is it?

  48. No, it’s Hootoo.

  49. Hatten är din!
    Fun.
    So that was out there 16 years without me encountering it… the internet truly is a big place.

  50. It was probably my second internet meme, between I kiss you and All Your Base.

  51. David Marjanović says:

    and it is still very formal and stuffy

    Oh, so is the original, and deliberately so!

    J’estime les Danois et leurs dents de fer.

    Priceless.

    Hadde jeg hatt den hatten jeg hadde hatt, så hadde jeg hatt en hatt..

    Wenn hinter Fliegen Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen Fliegen nach.

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