A Copy Editor’s Quibbles


And there are the words Dreyer currently dislikes most, even more than he dislikes “munch” and “nosh” and other distasteful eating-adjacent terms. Sitting recently in his book-crammed office at Penguin Random House, where he is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief for Random House — a division within the larger company — Dreyer scribbled “smelly” and “stinky” on a card and slid it speedily across the desk, as if the card itself was emitting a foul stench. “I can’t say them out loud,” he said.

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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6 Responses to A Copy Editor’s Quibbles

  1. I don’t like the word feet and try to avoid saying it, even stooping to foots on occasions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      Hah! “Foots” is good. I wonder if it’s the phonetic properties of the word or its anatomical association that repels you? When I read the paragraph I quoted I thought, “How could I talk about the excellent Spanish cheeses I recently sampled if I couldn’t say “stinky” or “smelly?” (!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s both, horrible foots and that ‘eeeeet’ sound. Smelly and stinky I’m fine with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      Things kind of come full circle here, being as how feet (pardon the expression) can also have the fragrant properties that you’re fine with. Apropos of nothing, really, I’m reminded that in Spanish to say “toenails” one must say “the nails of the foot” since the same word is used for fingernails. The vagaries of language! I stumped my 10-year-old Spanish granddaughter when telling her to finger her ukulele chords with the “yemas” of her fingers. “Yemas” means egg yolks, which was the only sense she knew of the word, but it also doubles as “finger tips.” I was reminded constantly that Castilian Spanish, which she spoke to me, was not her native tongue. Catalan was. I’m trying to think of a word that disgusts me, and haven’t so far. Yes! I just did, as a matter of fact. I hear the word “poo” used by persons who seem to think it’s a benign euphemism for the equivalent “sh-“ word. I beg to differ. I find “poo” to be somewhat puerile and disgusting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Puerile and disgusting seem to fit perfectly. They match the object (fairly disgusting) and our ways of dealing linguistically with horrible things (puerile?) short and sharply e.g. sick, snot, gob, scab. Egg yolks for fingertips is however, a bit icky.

        Liked by 1 person

      • JMN says:

        Insightful, I think, when you mention how we deal linguistically with unpleasant things in brusque monosyllables.

        Liked by 1 person

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