Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicago and I Have a Love/Hate Relationship

No, not the city.

Grammar has taken over my life. I'm an editing minor and I have taken–or am taking–linguistics, grammar, grammar usage, and editing classes.  I edit everything in my head as I read it. At least I know I am not alone in this. My dear editing minor friends have the same obsessions I have. We edit and check grammatical choices in textbooks, facebook statuses, text messages, newspapers and emails as we read them. We painstakingly read over everything we write, knowing there must be a grammatical error somewhere we missed, because we surely have. We know when to use whom versus who. We know that these "" are called straight quotes and are different than smart quotes, which are the ones that are curved. We know the historical definitions and progression of can and may. We know that hyphens (-) aren't the dashes that we see all over the place; it's actually, or supposed to be, the em dash (–). See the difference? - vs – An em dash is longer. We own The Chicago Manual of Style and use it everyday. We also know it's approximately the same size as the 7th Harry Potter book because some editing minors like to disguise Chicago as such. We download the Merriam-Webster dictionary app. We think semi-colons are awesome and extremely useful. We realize we will be taking spelling tests for the rest of our lives. We know that this, & is called an ampersand and commas never precede it. We understand the change and movement of language and language trends. We think dialects are fascinating. We know all the forms of lay and lie and how to use them correctly. There is a difference in using different than and different from, also with fewer and less, and farther and further. The same is also true with if and whether. The comma before and  or or is called an oxford or serial comma. We use them in most writing, not in journalism though. We know that stet means to let something stand. We know that the / I used in this post's title is called a solidus.

We're super nerdy about grammar and cringe at glaring mistakes. We love to talk to other editing minors because they care about the newest thing we learned, and most others couldn't care less. We text and call each other when we find an awesome typo or an error in the New York Times or our grammar textbooks–ironically enough. We get frustrated when our usage dictionaries tell us that we can deal with an issue in several different ways. We know the difference a comma can make; the same is true of hyphens. We edit our friends papers. We know you really can split an infinitive, end sentences with prepositions, and start them with and, but, etc. And by now you should realize that I've looked up a few things in my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style while writing this simple post, just to be sure.

We know we still make grammatical errors. I'm know there has to be at least one in this very post.

And we love it.
And sometimes hate it.

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