Monday, July 19, 2010

pullum bait

Here's an occasionally tongue-in-cheek Q&A from the Chicago Manual of Style Online. Personal fav:

Q. Can I use the first person?
A. Evidently.

And running a close second:
Q. “Between” vs. “among.” I’m going insane. I think the editor who changed my wording is just clueless or hasn’t given the issue enough thought. Please help. I’ve read the advice in CMOS, Garner’s Modern American Usage, Bernstein’s The Careful Writer, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, and a few other sources, but I can’t decide. Should I say “competition between companies” or “competition among companies”? They’re competing with each other, severally and individually. At least, that’s what I think. Or is “among” justified on the grounds that competition implies vague, intricate relationships? Do I need an economist to clear this usage question up? Are there right and wrong answers in this case? The phrase is “competition between/among companies is intensifying.”

A. It really doesn’t matter. The editor might well be clueless—it happens—but you are overthinking this.

HT: kottke

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