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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chicago Style Q&A: New Questions and Answers, March 2013

The Chicago Manual of Style has posted its March selection of questions and answers about writing. I have an email subscription to get monthly notifications about the Q&A.

Here's a summary of the latest questions (I've excerpted the response from Chicago for one question because I like what it says about dictionaries):
Q. I have a question about using a comma with the word and.

Q. We are in a quandary over the surname Humphries. Should the plural forms be Humphries and Humphries’, or Humphrieses and Humphrieses’?

Q. I have a question about serial commas before ampersands when it concerns dates. Which one of the below is correct?

Q. I have always changed cf. to see since CMOS states that it means “to confer; compare.” Someone tells me Oxford English Dictionary says that now it is often used to mean “see also.” How can OED change its actual meaning?
A. Dictionaries are not in the business of changing meanings: rather, lexicographers collect evidence on how people use words, and when a word is used pervasively and persistently to mean something, they list that meaning in the dictionary. After all, if you don’t know the meaning of a word, what good is it if the dictionary lists only the original, perhaps outdated meanings? You need to know what it means now.
That a meaning is listed in a dictionary doesn’t mean that the editors of the dictionary have put some stamp of approval or acceptance on it. Rather, they are stating a fact: this is one meaning of this word, a meaning documented by research and observation. Readers must decide whether that use is appropriate.
Q. Do I need to put a comma here: fresh, local produce?

Q. Is it acceptable to split a word between pages?

Q. Can you assume that a bulleted or numbered list will format correctly in a published book?

Q. I am having trouble understanding the structure of the following example (CMOS 13.53): “Everyone knows that the Declaration of Independence begins with the sentence ‘When, in the course of human events . . .’”

Q. I can’t seem to find any definitive answer on how to cite occasional papers.

Q. In my journalism days, I was taught that the following type of sentence is a non sequitur. “A software developer with fifteen years of experience, Sally’s passion is creating quality products.”

FYI, in Submit A Question to the Style Q&A, Chicago says this:
Although the manuscript editing department at the University of Chicago Press is naturally well versed in all matters, we can respond only to questions related to The Chicago Manual of Style.
Because of the volume of mail received, we are not able to answer all questions individually and not all questions can be used. Preference will be given to questions that are not answered here or in the Manual and that cannot be answered with a dictionary. Please check the Q&A monthly to see whether your question has been selected to be featured—and answered—on the site. ...
Also, the latest Chicago message noted that it's posted a Shop Talk with Mignon Fogarty, author of the Grammar Girl blog and books.

Chicago introduced the interview with Fogarty:
Every day, Mignon Fogarty takes on questions ranging from where to properly place commas, to what is a gerund, to whether Pig Latin is considered a language. In this month's Shop Talk, she talks about how she creates her Grammar Girl posts and podcasts and weighs in on changes to The Chicago Manual of Style.
The Chicago articles are also featured today, March 5, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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