Thursday, December 22, 2005

Staging a NYT style intervention

At the Huffington Post, Arianna took some time away from politics to launch a campaign against the New York Times' apostrophe rules.

She was set off by the same things that set so many copy editors against NYT style rules -- apostrophes in plural numbers, apostrophes in plural initialisms. (She fails to mention the missing apostrophes in decades, such as 90's, though.)

She figured they were mistakes but then got a copy of The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Writers weren't breaking Times rules; they were following them!
That's when I decided to do something to stop the madness. It's time for regime change in apostrophe land. The good news is that vanquishing this enemy won't take congressional approval, a U.N. Security Council resolution, or the use of waterboarding.

But neither can it be accomplished just by deploying a few unmanned apostrophe drones. No, this will require a coalition of journalists, copy editors, ad execs, teachers, and people like you and me willing to draw a line (albeit a small, crescent-shaped one) in the compositional sand. To say, "This will not stand." And, fortunately, we already have the Associated Press and major newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post on our side.

She follows with some oversimplified rules, but I won't knock her for the airing of grievances. I don't disagree.


At 5:14 PM, December 23, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

I registered with the Hufferer and posted a comment. As I've observed before, the apostrophe thing makes sense when you consider that the Times uses all-caps heds. PCB/PCBs, fine, but PCBS as a plural doesn't look right -- so the Times does PCB'S in all caps and PCB's elsewhere for consistency's sake.

At 12:56 PM, December 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is this irony or what?
why on earth do you think there's a missing apostrophe in 90s -- it's a simple plural of the decade and the apostrpohe doesn't represent anything missing


At 1:15 PM, December 29, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

In "90's," the "19" is missing. It doesn't mean the years A.D. 91 through A.D. 99 :-).
through the year 99.

At 9:29 PM, December 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the ACES Ohio workshop in October, someone asked Bill Connolly (one of the NYT stylebook's co-authors) about the apostrophes. He explained that they kept that rule precisely because of the all-caps headlines.

At 1:29 AM, January 16, 2006, Blogger Craig said...

What's a guy got to do to get a new post around here?

At 3:27 PM, January 16, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

All you had to do was ask!


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