CMOS: When we talk about using inclusive language, who are we talking about including? SG: Everyone—but especially readers from groups that have historically been excluded by the conventions used and the assumptions made in publishing. One of the earliest and most obvious examples would be
CMOS: How did you come to think about writing as “flabby”? HS: Many years ago, I read Richard Lanham’s book Revising Prose, which influenced me deeply as a writer. Lanham teaches you to identify the “lard factor” in your writing, based on the percentage of words that you could omit without significantly changing its meaning. The Writer’s Diet follows similar principles, but with
Would you play Scrabble against this man? Peter Sokolowski is editor at large at Merriam-Webster, where he works on the Word of the Day podcast, Ask the Editor videos, articles about word trends and etymologies—and serves as pronouncer for spelling bees around the world. Editor Carol Saller asks him about Merriam-Webster’s billion lookups each year.
CMOS: You have now translated a large portion of the Hebrew Bible into English. What motivated you to take on such an enormous, high-profile, high-stakes project?
Language has the power to both delight and confuse, and there are names for some of our most common confusions. Here are a few linguistic gaffes you will surely recognize, even if you’ve never heard their names.
Erin McKean is the founder and CEO of Wordnik. Before Wordnik, she was the editor in chief of American dictionaries for Oxford University Press. She has stated that her life goal is “to make sure every word in English has a place in the dictionary.” In her “free” time, she has written half a dozen…
Language lovers now have a new place to get their linguistic fix. Schwa Fire is a new, digital-only magazine devoted to language journalism. Its founder, Michael Erard, is aiming for the publication to be “This American Life, but for language” and has already put out a strong first issue. Both paid and free content . . .
The Chicago Manual of Style made its first foreign-language debut this year with the arrival of Manual de estilo Chicago-Deusto. The University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, created a full adaptation of the Manual, deftly shaping the text to fit the needs of Spanish-language publishers. Javier Torres Ripa led the editorial team and talks now about what it took to bring más to CMOS.
Ben Zimmer is a linguist, lexicographer, and language columnist—a word guru. From tracking the etymology of (and drama over) the word sneaker to interviewing Stephen Colbert about truthiness, Zimmer keeps tabs on the continuing evolution of language. With technology accelerating these changes and fueling debates over usage, Shop Talk decided to . . .