Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ghostwriters, Nitpickers and Minotaurs

I have a bit of ground to cover after disappearing for a week.

I could talk at length about Amazon getting into direct publishing or Penguin sex scandals. (Sadly, the “penguin” in question is the book publisher, not the bird. It would be funnier to write about salacious avian affairs.) But I’m too late to either of these topics to say anything new.

Instead, allow me to use this post as a purge for all of the worthwhile links that I have accumulated in the last seven days.

First, Michelle Kerns updates her Reviewerspeak Awards. For those who don’t remember, Kerns is meticulously following book reviewers so she can catalogue their most overused clichés.

Book reviewers seem to be aware of Kerns because usage of April’s most popular clichés has dwindled. Unfortunately, they have been replaced with others.

“Fascinating” and variations on “vivid” were the most common clichés of May.

In other news, Stan Carey has smacked back at the Queen’s English Society for its nitpickery. The society wants to “set an accepted standard of good English.” In other words, they want to regulate the tenets of the language.

That’s silly for a lot of reasons (and, seemingly, a tad jingoistic), but it’s not necessary for me to recapitulate Carey’s entire argument. Instead, I’ll leave you with a link and a quote:

This plaintive appeal is telling in many ways. It reveals the deep confusion that arises when one tries to reconcile language, in all its mutable complexity, with simplistic dogma and prejudice. It hints at a nostalgic hankering for the halcyon days when grammar education was based more on strict commandments (often imposed by grammarians to reflect mere stylistic preferences). It shows an arrogant presumption that right-thinking people ought to think just like them...

Since English seems to be changing faster than ever, no academy could hope to keep up. This is especially so because of the geographical reach of English and its consequent fracturing into countless overlapping varieties.

Elsewhere, The Millions details the joy of ghostwriting.

“I bristle at the term ‘ghostwriter,’” says [Michael] D’Orso. “It indicates dishonesty. It indicates hiding behind the scenes. I prefer collaborator. I’m not a shill.”

Finally, Minotaurs are the new vampires.

-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com

P.S. Thank you, Tricia, for keeping the blog warm while I was gone.

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Anonymous Tricia Ambrose said...


I think nitpickery is a terrific word and you should try to use it in conversation as much as possible!

June 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM 

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