I have always been obsessed with words, but it wasn’t until I arrived on American shores (well, plains really and ten hours from the sea) that I finally buckled down and learned U.S. grammar. I am not sure if it is all that different from English rules of grammar, but the rules certainly looked different to what I learned growing up in England but this may have been that I wasn’t the most attentive student in the world. (Sorry, Mum and Dad!)
Teaching freshman English to young American college students during graduate school was when I worked out that to teach grammar, you actually had to know the rules and so I learnt them. And then, I was introduced to the initial torture of learning the Modern Language Association (MLA) style book, which, when I first heard it in class, thought was being called “Emma Lay” and wondered who that was. (Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut during that class and found out later.)
And then I moved into the world of public relations and media and met with the Chicago Style Book – all different stuff! OK. Buckled down and learned that and somehow kept the two different writing styles straight in my head. That worked for a long time until I made an unexpected (but really good) move into technical writing for the world of engineering.
Holy cow. Yet another set of style guide rules to learn. And so now, I actually have four sets of style guide books floating around my head and am starting to get them mixed up with each other occasionally: the UK writing/spelling, the Emma Lay (:-)) style, the Chicago Style and now the engineering one that sort of evolves from one writer to another, depending on which area they are researching.
After having a confusing style day the other week, it’s clear that I have to pretty much forget all the other styles except this engineering one and so that’s my goal for this summer.
I will become a knowledge expert on this engineering style thingy. (That’s technical writing for ya.)
So I happened to be reading about copyediting and all that jazz, and came across this truly excellent article about the profession of copyediting (which is some of what I do)… These words are so very true and obviously written from experience… Take a looksie (article by Lori Franklin and taken from The Awl July 21 2010).
Aah. I understand your pain, sistah.
(And yes – there may an error in this post… Life is like that sometimes.)