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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Game changer: AP Stylebook moves faster than Merriam-Webster as linguistic authority | Steve Myers, Poynter.

Game changer? Ha!

The Associated Press Stylebook has been my first editorial reference since I studied and taught journalism and worked for newspapers years ago. But I doubt if it ever will be the first reference for the general population. To even wish such a trend is silly.

Still, I think Myers' article is interesting, though it's not comprehensive in its comparison of newly added terms in the AP manual and Merriam-Webster dictionary. I wonder what Myer would have discovered if he had checked terms in Webster's New World Dictionary, AP's preferred dictionary.

He asks:
Which is more in tune with the English language: Merriam-Webster, which traces its origins to the early 1800s, or the AP’s Stylebook, which only two years ago sanctioned “website“?
He compares terms like aha moment, cloud computing, F-bomb, game changer, mash-up and sexting.

I'm not surprised that Myers found the AP manual to be more current. Its main purpose to to aid reporters and editors in maintaining consistency in their use of the language--from abbreviations and capitalization to punctuation to word usage. So if new terms become popular, even temporarily, AP should provide guidance.

Dictionaries, however, should provide a more stringent standard for adding or revising words and their definitions. I don't believe they should modify their listings for language fads, at least for words and uses that exist for a limited time, whatever that might be. Two years perhaps? And widespread in their country of origin.

Guess I should also should review my own writing guide, Garbl's Editorial Style Manual, to make sure it's up-to-date!

This article is featured today (Aug. 16) in Garbl's Style: Write Choices--available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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