John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Omnium gatherum

The title is mock-Latin for a miscellany — omnium, all, combined with gather them — and a tipoff that this post is not devoted to a single subject.

Item: Grant Barrett, the lexicographer, has launched a Web reference on words, an online dictionary called Wordnik. It aggregates meanings from various dictionaries, perovdes etymologies and illustrative sentences, gives readers the opportunity to contribute material, and offers a number of other interesting features. Give it a try. You may well want to bookmark it.

Item: We told you that skimping on the editing would wind up embarrassing publications. A former Sun colleague observes on Facebook: “Headline at the top of washingtonpost.com says that ‘Sonia Mayor's’ confirmation hearings will begin July 13.”

Item: I complained in a tweet this morning (Feel free to follow me, @johnemcintyre on Twitter): “Ticker on WBAL describes a fire as having been ‘intentionally set.’ So ‘set’ is not enough for them to indicate intention?” Since then, a couple of respondents have questioned whether set always indicates intention to start a fire. What say you?

Item: At Headsup, "fev" shows us once again why sports headlines should not make childish plays on players’ names.

Item: Yesterday, in a narrow vote of 277 to 263, members of the Newspaper Guild at The Boston Globe rejected concessions demanded by the parent New York Times Company. An article in The Times quotes Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University as saying that both sides contributed to an ugly outcome, the company by appearing remote and arrogant, the union by giving in to anger and resentment.

I have no stake in this, but I would like to suggest to my fellow journalists at The Globe that, based on recent experience, any employee of a daily newspaper who imagines that he or she is indispensible and enjoys job security may soon be carrying personal possessions to the curb in a cardboard box.