What I’ve been reading this week

Alert, alert, ranting sub in existential crisis. Well, not exactly. But it’s certainly true that I don’t find too much to rant about these days. Whether that’s because I’ve got it out of my system, I’m working with less rant-inducing copy or I’ve just gone blind, I don’t know. Anyway.

The more I know, the more I realise I don’t know. The more I realise I don’t know, the more inclined I am to listen to other people’s voices more and my own a bit less.

And so, I’m going to start sharing some of the interesting bits I come across, and thus bask in their reflected glory. Here’s a few things that have rocked my little world in the past week or two:

There was Ralph Fiennes, getting all worked up about Twitter ruining Shakespeare, or something.

“[Language] is being eroded — it’s changing. Our expressiveness and our ease with some words is being diluted so that the sentence with more than one clause is a problem for us, and the word of more than two syllables is a problem for us.” Read all about it (Daily Mail warning)

Blah. Much more interesting was this response on Language Log: Up in ur internets, shortening all the words.

If you weren’t too busy ruining language, you may have noticed that last week, a dog harnessed the power of electrostatic discharge – possibly in protest at local governance: Dog helps lightning strike Redruth mayor. This led me to a lovely post on Stan Carey’s Sentence First blog, on Crash blossoms.

There’s a hilarious post on Angry Sub-Editor’s blog, about the danger of promoting a sub-editor: Had they but one neck.

A little extract: “My gay friends tell me that sexual preference is hard-wired and so corrective therapy is pointless as well as immoral. You can say the same about being a sub-editor. Once you’ve been a sub-editor for a while, you can never go back. The down side is that there aren’t any cool bars where you can go and discuss gerunds and dangling participles.”

Read it and weep.

And then there was a great battle, or something. The Guardian’s David Marsh wrote a post about the which/that rule for the Mind Your Language blog: That’s the way to do it. The explanation was more in-depth than one I had heard previously, but the rule basically the same.

What surprised me was the level of protest. Several people posted to say that the rule was fictitious, baseless and a misinterpretation of something Fowler once said. There’s a good post here: That which is restrictive and Arnold Zwicky has gone one further and collated an inventory of postings on the topic.

I’m quite swayed. Obviously, much of what I write/edit is constrained by house style(s). But I’ll admit to a little which/that experimentation outside of work. I know, I’m cuh-razy.

Outside of language-focused things, I loved my sister Kaira’s graphic short story on love in a modern age, and also Joseph Stashko’s blog post on shy people (and X Factor). And I don’t even watch X Factor.

A big thumbs down, however, to Christina Patterson’s ‘open letter’ to Miriam Gonzalez (aka Mrs Clegg) in the Independent: So good that you make me feel bad. “Seeing pictures of you … makes almost every woman in the country feel just a little bit worse” is the pay-off. Wtf? Speak for yourself, Christina. If you really must.

That’ll do for now. I may update this list when I remember what else it is I’ve been reading. Feel free to add further links below.

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