Copy editors take to the streets?

Yikes! Have stressed-out copy editors turned to violence?

The copy editor’s lot is not an easy one. The work is exacting, even stressful. But is the work so stressful that editors have taken to the streets to settle their differences—over style guides, open compounds, and serial commas—once and for all?

Not yet.

Except, of course, in the strange and wondrous minds of The Onion satirists in the article “4 Copy Editors Killed in Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence” (January 7, 2013).

Here’s an excerpt:

“‘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.’”

Read the complete article.

Photo, “Montreal riot police at play,” by scottmontreal. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0).


Semicolons: aids or affectations (poll)

Imagine. You’ve been captured by a plunder of punctuation-hating pirates and forced to walk the plank. As you teeter, The Oxford Guide to Writing and The Chicago Manual of Style clutched to your breast, the pirate king speaks. “The semicolon has no place in online writing!” he says. “Renounce your admiration for it and live!”

What do you do?

Take the West Coast Editor poll and tell us. Are semicolons essential aids to understanding—even in online writing—fulfilling a role distinct from that of the full stop? Or are they mere affectations, relics from our print-bound past?

Take me to your poll!