No one says “full point.” Full stop.

First, let’s go back to 2014 or thereabouts, when I first bought my copy of the New Oxford Style Manual. I’d taken on a couple of English clients, and I wanted to be sure I didn’t make any stupid mistakes in “correcting” their writing. I knew about the tendency to use single quotation marks (which they call “inverted commas,” for both single and double marks) where we use double and vice versa, but what didn’t I know?

As I skimmed the section on punctuation, I realized that almost everything was either the same as it was for American English, or I already knew about the difference. And then it happened.

Chapter 4, section 6: “Full point.”

What’s that? I’ve never heard of that. Oh, I see: “also called full stop, or in American English, period.” (emphasis theirs)

Now, I’d heard of a full stop. However, this is the English publishers’ equivalent to the Chicago Manual of Style, so I figured it must be correct. Right? Surely I was a woefully misinformed Yank. So, I set out to ask my English clients about this term.

They’d never heard of it.

Neither had their children. Not one teacher called it a “full point.” Full stop.

I set my concerns aside, and decided to call it what everyone calls it.

Now, let’s move forward in time to last week. I was reading Lynne Murphy’s delightful book on British and American English, The Prodigal Tongue, when I happened upon this bit: “By the 20th century, Americans generally used period and didn’t bother much with full stop, while Britons retained full stop and eventually lost period. (Full point is still occasionally found in printers’ jargon.)”

And then, I took my purple gel pen in hand and annotated the margin: “And the New Oxford Style Manual!” (Of course, I underlined the title as I was taught in grade school.)

[For those who are wondering, that text combines New Hart’s Rules with the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors in one volume.]

Just today, I tweeted that I was going to write a blog post about “this full point silliness” and I tagged Lynne, because it seemed the proper thing to do. After all, if not for her book, my memory wouldn’t have been jogged. She replied, asking “Who’s silly about full point?” So I told her.

I got a like. I’ll take it!

Full stop.

Time to tighten up

Of course I’m talking about writing.

One of the main problems I see with new writers is a tendency to overwrite. Sometimes it’s like reading a play replete with stage directions. Every move is explained in excruciating detail. “He lifted the glass with his left hand, while his right hand idly stroked his thigh, which was covered by fine wool trousers in a shade of gray not unlike brushed steel. The ice cubes, square, not round, clinked against the glass as he sipped the single malt Scotch. His tongue darted out to catch an errant droplet, and then he wiped his lips with the back of his right hand before letting it come to rest on the hand-crocheted cotton armrest cover protecting the upholstered arm of the Chippendale chair.” Continue reading “Time to tighten up”

Referencing Referents

Or: How to Point Your Pronoun to the Right Word

I’ve been quiet (too quiet) in the last month because I’ve been working.

Shaddup, you. I do too work. A lot. And my work involves correcting grammar, among many other things. A big part of correcting grammar concerns pronouns and referents.

I see you out there, frowning a little, scratching the tip of your nose, rubbing your temple. Your elementary school English (or did they call it language arts?) teacher used to drone on about pronouns and referents, and you learned it just long enough to get past the pop quiz and the unit test, and then POOF gone.

That was me in every math class I ever took. But we’re not talking about me, or about math. We’re talking about pronouns and referents. Continue reading “Referencing Referents”

REVIEW: The Perfect English Grammar Workbook, McLendon

Any grammar text that makes me literally laugh aloud is a winner on at least one level. Making grammar fun is one of my personal goals, so I always enjoy seeing others succeed at doing so. I laughed a lot during my read-through of Lisa McLendon’s workbook. This is a very good thing.

Not only does she know her grammar (she’s the one who teaches the Deep Grammar classes at various editing conferences), she explains it in plain language. No small feat, that. Lisa won me over right off the bat with her statement that she’s not a “grammar cop,” but rather a “grammar cheerleader.” I don’t know as I’m bubbly enough to be one of those, but I appreciate the imagery, that’s for sure. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Perfect English Grammar Workbook, McLendon”

Humbled and happy

Late last month, I was mentioned in this article by Ben Yagoda at the Lingua Franca blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

As the title says, I’m humbled to have been included with such editing stars as John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun and Benjamin Dreyer of Random House. I’m also happy for the same reason. I don’t think of myself as anyone terribly notable, but apparently Ben thinks otherwise.

I thanked him on Twitter, but I’ll say it again: Thank you, Ben. It’s an honor.