Hyphenate This

The Chicago Manual of Style Pulls Grammar Nerds into the Future

Comments

1
Language is fascinating, and I can be a little of a grammar snob. What some nitpicks tend to forget is the important part of language is to be understood. Being overly proper in all occasions can detract from your being understood and take away the 'status' you're trying to convey.
It seems to me written language is becoming more vocally expressive, probably to do with the increasing reliance we have on communication through texts and blogs like this.
Our grandparents may mourn the loss of the language they understood, but I'm sure their grandparents thought the kids of the 40's spoke mumbo jumbo too.
2
I am so thrilled with this article. I love my Chicago and can't wait to use this new-fangled internet version. ♥
3
"Grammar is a code, a naturally occurring pattern beneath our words (spoken, signed, texted). There really isn't such a thing as poor grammar, just a variety of contexts."

Thank you!
4
Does the CMoS explain why are people using .75 cents and .09 cents for food item prices? I get flustered and feel I have to buy a multiple of the items to cleanly round up to cents, that is, four of a .75 cent advertised item to buy for three pennies, and 100 of the .09 cents item.

This practice is so prevalent at farmers' markets and at Trader Joe's that there must be an American style guide. But I can't see a formal reference for the intentional ambiguation between dollars and cents, and nobody has said "oh! That's not right! That decimal point doesn't belong there at all!"
5
@4: It's called Verizon math.
6
I do love Chicago Style, but I have a question about the new guide: has the committee decided how the Grove Dictionaries should be cited? (They're collections of scholarly essays on music, art, architecture, etc.)

While in grad school, the 15th ed. came out and didn't address this type of citation, so I emailed and asked. The response was "why are you trying to cite a dictionary?"
7
This article is incredible. Seriously. Good job!
8
@4 Because people are fucking idiots. I suggest writing them checks based on their printed prices. I believe banks still know how to do math.
9
Lovely article.
10
Capital "t" in The Stranger, but not the Shins? I think AP says no upper-case "t" for band names (which bothers me), does Chicago agree?

12
One of the best articles this year! Thank you!
13
@3 There is no 'wrong' grammar but there is grammar that screams "dumbass".
14
Descartes's?? Really, Descartes's? I am stunned.
15
Does the new edition give us permission to slap all of those "professional" writers who now insist on splitting their infinitives? If so, I have a list.
16
cxg, you are slightly behind the times. Chicago says
Although from about 1850 to 1925 many grammarians stated otherwise, it is now widely acknowledged that adverbs sometimes justifiably separate an infinitive’s to from its principal verb {they expect to more than double their income next year}.
(5.106)
17
Also, 5.168:
Sometimes it is perfectly appropriate to split an infinitive verb with an adverb to add emphasis or to produce a natural sound… A verb’s infinitive or to form is split when an intervening word immediately follows to {to bravely assert}. If the adverb bears the emphasis in a phrase {to boldly go} {to strongly favor}, then leave the split infinitive alone. But if moving the adverb to the end of the phrase doesn’t suggest a different meaning or impair the sound, then it’s an acceptable way to avoid splitting the verb. Recasting a sentence just to eliminate a split infinitive or avoid splitting the infinitive can alter its nuance or meaning—for instance, it’s best to always get up early (always modifies get up) is not quite the same as it’s always best to get up early (always modifies best). Moreover, sometimes “fixing” a split infinitive makes the sentence sound unnatural, as in it’s best to get up early always.
18
Glad to be one of the former. Thanks for this. :)
19
You rock, Jesse! Thanks for the clear and concise article; now I *really* have to go sign up for my subscription...
20
Hey Mr. Vernon (Hope you don’t find too many style or grammatical errors in this comment):

Excellent article on what’s (unfortunately) become an obscure corner of our communications infrastructure. With the downsizing, “out-placing” and disregarding of the professionals (writers, editors, reporters, etc.) who assisted the evolution of our language-culture, I wonder what’s to become of the commonality we shared through the reading of newspapers and periodicals, and even the listening/viewing of broadcast journalism?

When everyone’s writing freelance, will there be any accountability to language and style? And where editors are reduced to just laying out the page, will there be any grammar/style experts to rein in the discrepancies?

English’s ability to constantly adapt and adopt will likely insure it maintains its preeminence as a world language, but I wonder, without its style/grammar gatekeepers, if English readers/speakers will eventually have any commonality whatsoever?

21
Hey Mr. Vernon (Hope you don’t find too many style or grammatical errors in this comment):

Excellent article on what’s (unfortunately) become an obscure corner of our communications infrastructure. With the downsizing, “out-placing” and disregarding of the professionals (writers, editors, reporters, etc.) who assisted the evolution of our language-culture, I wonder what’s to become of the commonality we shared through the reading of newspapers and periodicals, and even the listening/viewing of broadcast journalism?

When everyone’s writing freelance, will there be any accountability to language and style? And where editors are reduced to just laying out the page, will there be any grammar/style experts to rein in the discrepancies?

English’s ability to constantly adapt and adopt will likely insure it maintains its preeminence as a world language, but I wonder, without its style/grammar gatekeepers, if English readers/speakers will eventually have any commonality whatsoever?

22

I don't think it's new to the 16th edition, but it also bears mentioning that, in addition to the split-infinitive myth, The Chicago Manual of Style also dismisses the whole fetish of never ending a clause with a preposition:


The "rule" prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition. Today many grammarians use the dismissive term pied-piping for this phenomenon.(5.176)

Jesse Vernon seems to be among the few American journalists not terrified by mathematics. As one who has often been thwarted -- yes, not "one who often has been thwarted" -- by folks who spasmodically redline who and whoever whenever to is in the vicinity, I loved his explanation of how nested parentheses can be used to break up clauses.


I'm getting the feeling Vernon may even be able to convert among percentages, fractions and decimal approximations without throwing off the result of a calculation by whole orders of magnitude.


A rare gem, indeed! Bravo.

23
Fascinating! I should have a look at this.

By the way, I do support the nonhyphenated "email," but I also think "Web" and "Internet" should be capitalized, as they are proper nouns meaning "the totality of resources accessible via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)" and "the global system of packet-switched computer networks using the Internet Protocol (IP), usually in conjunction with the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP; the combination is called TCP/IP)."

(I think my wonkiness just lapped itself.)
24
Late to the table on this one, but thank you from the grammar nerds. I like NT's comment about wonkiness lapping itself.

Two more additions: William Safire's grammar rules
http://faculty.sanjuancollege.edu/krobis… and my favorite charity, The Apostrophe Protection Society of the UK www.apostrophe.org.uk.

BTW, what is the convention for including a web address in a sentence? I just leave some space around it because I'm afraid that a comma might screw things up.
25
@24 ellenziegler, in our journals we put < > around web addresses to make sure they are clear and that they are separated from a comma or period that might follow them. Not that anyone would think the comma or period was part of the web address, but it just looks better.
26
The point about alteration of meaning according to the position of the splitting word or phrase, whether within the infinitive phrase or without, is well made by Jessy Vernon. Think of the effect of splitting two infinitives in the final line of the Prologue in Henry V: "Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play". It would leave the audience or reader rather confused, methinks.