Category Archives: speaking of writing: articles of interest to writers, editors and readers

From “Language, Free: Blogs for grammar geeks” by Merrill Perlman,, 19 December 2011: In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle makes lots of friends — and money for Macy’s — by sending customers elsewhere when Macy’s didn’t have something. In the same spirt, this week Language Corner is sending you to lots of other [...]

From, ”The Muses of Insert, Delete and Execute” by Jennifer Schuessler, 25th December 2011: The literary history of the typewriter has its well-established milestones, from Mark Twain producing the fiirst typewritten manuscript with “Life on the Mississippi” to Truman Capote famously dismissing Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” pounded out on a 120-foot scroll, with the [...]

From ‘Rise of the e-book’ by Carl Zimmer, Nature, Vol. 480, 22/29 December 2011, pp 451-452: In the summer of  2010, on a tiny island off the coast of Maine, I saw the future of books.  I had been invited to teach a writing course at Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, a beautiful bulge [...]

From “Making Scholastic Inc. shape up,” by Jim Hightower, Tucson Weekly, September 1 – 7, 2011, p. 6: “The vast majority of our programs are not controversial,” says the CEO of the world’s largest publisher of children’s educational material, “but once in a while, there is a slip-up in editorial judgement.”  I’ll say!  Like taking [...]

From ‘Records in the field’ by Sandra Knapp (Nature, Vol. 474, 16 June 2011, pp. 280 – 281): Field biology: the very words conjure up romance, danger, excitement.  There is a thrill to fieldwork that makes lab-based scientists ask “How was your holiday?” when one returns from a stint outside.  Many books have been written [...]

From ‘A Diagram for Graceful Prose’ by Walter R. Borneman (The Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2011): In the fall of 1964, the Johnson–Goldwater campaign was in full swing and Vietnam just a cloud on the horizon. I arrived at Eastview Junior High in Richfield, Ohio, each morning on a big yellow school bus. My [...]

From ‘Word Play’ by Eric Hand (Nature, Vol. 474, 23 June 2011, pp. 436 – 440; published online 17 June 2011): [... Eric Lieberman Aiden, "molecular biologist, applied mathematician and, at 31 years old, the precocious doyen of the emerging field known as the digital humanities"] caught a late train back [to Cambridge, Massachusetts] from Princeton [...]

From, ‘Twitter Oxford Comma Commotion Punctuated by Fact’, 30 June 2011: A report that Oxford University had changed its comma rule left some punctuation obsessives alarmed, annoyed, and distraught.  Passions subsided as the university said the news was imprecise, incomplete and misleading. Catch the difference between the two previous sentences? An “Oxford comma” was [...]

From, ‘Talking (Exclamation) Points’ by Aimee Lee Ball (1 July 2011): In an essay published in 1895 clled “How to Tell A Story,” Mark Twain chastised writers who use “whooping exclamation-points” that reveal them laughing at their own humor, ” all of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and [...]

From, “E-Book Revolution Upends a Publishing Course” by Julie Bosman (15 July 2011): For decades, even after it was renamed and relocated from its original home at Radcliffe, the Columbia Publishing Course seemed unchanging, a genteel summer tradition in the book business, a white-glove six-week course in which ambitious college graduates were educated in [...]

From “The Price of Typos” by Virginia Heffernan (17 July 2011): Some readers like to see portraits of authors they admire, study their personal histories or hear them read aloud.  i like to know whether an author can spell.  Nabokov spelled beautifully.  Fitzgerald was crummy at spelling, bedeviled by entry-level traps like “definate.” Bad [...]