Adviser Update Adviser Update Spring 2017 - Page 4

CAREER CUES Professor cheers for grammar and the joy of editing I By Linda Shockley I was eating lunch alone at the American Copy Editors Society conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, when I overheard two couples at the next table wondering what ACES was. I started to blurt out, but one of these jazzy senior citizens left their table strolled down the hall and came back to report: “They are proofreaders.” conflict,” she said. Then they launched into a critique of how typos litter newspapers, magazines and our ubiquitous screens: mobile, TV or laptop. Somebody hold me down. Copy editors do much more than proofread. They fact check and perform ever-increasing and more vital duties in a digital age. They are the last line of defense against errors of all kinds that would (and do) undermine media credibility. “Once enough users move something, it’s moved,” she said. “It may take the standards people a while to come over, but they have to.” Lisa McLendon is not a comma queen or grammar cop; she smiles and laughs way too much for that. She is not an old-school grammarian, either, though she knows a few tricks of the lost art of diagramming sentences. “I am a grammar cheerleader,” she said. “I have said before I hate grammar Nazis. First, it trivializes the Holocaust, and, nobody wants to aspire to be a Nazi.” She said she is on a campaign to demystify grammar and make it fun. Seriously, cheery demeanor aside, she thinks grammar is fun, even exciting. She just published a book, The Perfect English Grammar Workbook: Simples Rules and Quizzes to Master Today’s English. It’s intentionally affordable in print and online and good for high school upperclassmen, college students As an editor, she knows there are sets of standards, but that they will change as you strive to be professional. She won’t get her “knickers in a twist” about “over versus more than” or using “they” as a singular pronoun because language and usage evolve. and professionals who need a refresher. Explaining why we need grammar, she wrote: “You’re not deliberately wasting breath or ink or bytes, but if you’re not being clear, you might as well be. And that’s why grammar is important: It makes language work. . . Use grammar as your tool to control language and make it work exactly how you want it to.” Wait, did she just end a sentence with a preposition? Glad you asked. She lists this among several grammar myths. “Prepositions in English often work as adverbs or pair with verbs, which means they may end a sentence naturally. But even true prepositions don’t always have to be followed by their objects. Write however it sounds most natural and is clearest to the reader.” This refreshing perspective comes from having studied language and worked as a copy editor. “Being a linguist and an editor has helped balance out the prescriptiveness “I like to think about useful changes. It helps to make our language clearer and stronger,” she said. Though she coordinates the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, she won’t be confused with the gruff persona Professor John Bremner projected in seminars with professional journalists who should have known their “p’s and q’s,” but evidently didn’t. McLendon is the kindly coach, mentor and professor who said she wants to rid students of grammar aversion, particularly those who had a bad experience, so that they are less anxious about it. As with North Carolina and Syracuse’s journalism schools, students at Kansas have to get grammar right before they can advance. She doesn’t believe that making people feel stupid is a good way to teach. McLendon enticed 100 ACES conventioneers into a session on diagramming sentences when they could have been out enjoying Tampa