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Hyphens, en dashes, em dashes

Oh, my! I would estimate that 10% of all editorial corrections I make at the level of copyediting are connected to the use of hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. “Though the differences can sometimes be subtle—especially in the case of an en dash versus a hyphen—correct use of the different types is a sign…

Affect/Effect

A classic problem of English usage. Unfortunately, the commonest advice usually simplifies the matter as follows: Affect is a verb meaning “to change or to make a difference”; effect is a noun meaning “the result of a change.” In fact, both affect and effect can be either a verb or a noun, and there is a much wider range…

A small fish to fry

I’ve been doing a lot of extra editorial work during COVID-19. I recently came across this startling opinion of a New Grammarian, who would have us write, “Who’s learning from who.” They (sg.) contend that the interrogative pronoun is always who, uninflected for case, and that it is only the relative pronoun who(m) that is…

centennial, centenary, century

A note on American English: Both centennial and centenary can be either an adjective (“every century”) or a noun (“centennial celebration”). In writing, it is commendable to reserve centennial for the adj. and centenary for the n., but it is a distinction that only connoisseurs will care about. (CMOS 17 is silent; Webster’s cross-references each…

Lyriques bibliques of Antoine Houdar de La Motte (1672–1731)

This is a practical study in the pronunciation and declamation of the metrical French verse of La Motte, perhaps the greatest Classic French poet of the generation after Molière. La Motte was the librettist of André Campra’s L’Europe galante (1697), for instance. The texts were analyzed according to the principles of Bacilly (1668) and other writers who describe françois…