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, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Operators are standing by

If you marked the start of a new year with a resolve for some kind of self-improvement — and who among us couldn’t stand a little betterment? — here are two opportunities to make good on that resolution, without your having to leave the house.

The first is a week and a half away, but there is still time to sign up for

Things Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You

This audioconference produced by McMurry, which also publishes the Copyediting newsletter, will help you distinguish a rule from a guideline from a superstition in English usage. It will run for ninety minutes on January 14, and in addition to being able to listen to my dulcet tones, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and argue with me.

Details about fees and registration are on the link.

Next month will bring another opportunity:

Where to Turn: Resources for Editors

If you have been leaning too heavily on those frail reeds, The Elements of Style and Wikipedia, you will benefit from advice on more reliable resources and references. The ninety-minute audioconference on February 18 will explore both print and electronic references that will, used with appropriate caution and judgment, get you where you want to go. Here, too, you will have an opportunity to share your views.

Again, details are on the link.

I hope to hear from you on one or both of these occasions.


  1. Make sure to discuss how to pronounce Louisville.

  2. "How do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky, Louiss-ville or Louie-ville?" is the canonical way to raise that point. No matter which choice your interlocutor makes, you smile gently and then tell them what the capital of Kentucky is.

  3. Georgia on My MindJanuary 5, 2010 at 7:58 AM

    It's neither, right?
    Listen carefully and you hear "LOO-ah-vel."

  4. Georgia on My MindJanuary 5, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Addressing Mr. Lackey's directive above:
    it's LOO-ah-vel, no?

  5. Some states shouldn't be allowed capitals -- not if they can't pick an obvious city. Nobody even knows where Frankfort is, or if it is.
    Didn't John make a hilarious video explaining how to pronounce Louisville? First you have to crumple paper and put it in your mouth.
    Speaking again of Frankfort, are you sure it isn't pronounced FRANK-fert. Usually southerners find the easiest possible pronunciation. Saying fert is easier than saying fort.

  6. The vowel in Frankfort's second syllable is something intermediate between an e and a u.

    Louisville comes out something like LOO-uh-vul, but don't be misled by those capitals and hyphens; the three syllables are slurred together, and the first one is not strongly stressed.

    Here's the video:

  7. I've heard it pronounced "Lovell." I guess by natives.

  8. Patricia the TerseJanuary 8, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    And it's NOR-folk, not NOR- FOLK, thank you so much.