What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Another Dictionary Rant

One of my jobs is for an internet publishing company. You can call it a content mill or a content farm if you so desire. I call it a paycheck.

It's not one of my favorite gigs -- not that I mind the work so much, but it's not particularly remunerative and it's one of those jobs like the post office: it never stops. Unlike a book project, which like the book itself has a beginning, middle, and an end, this gig's like the US Mail. There's always more of it, and the production line never ceases. "Going postal" is a term that comes by itself honestly.

My job is primarily to review the work of copyeditors on very specific 400- to 500-word articles with such scintillating titles as "How to Become a Butler," the actual title I'm reviewing now. In the comments back and forth between writer and editor, the writer offers, "Butling (one t) seems to be the predominant spelling."

"Predominant" for whom, you might ask. "Damn if I know" would be my answer.

Merriam-Webster's (MW) does not recognize "butler" as anything but a noun, and "butling" is not a mentioned alternative form. MW also doesn't recognize "butle" as a verb.

Step 2: Because this august client uses AP, and AP uses Webster's New World College Dictionary (NWCD), I go there. Indeed "butle" appears as a verb:

butle (Source: Webster's New World College Dictionary)
but ´ 'l vi. -lied, -ling , [[< fol.]] [Informal] to serve as a butler: a hugmorous usage

Well, that's just freaking dandy. "Butling." (By the way, Oxford Dictionaries [OD], which you'd suspect would have something to say about "butlering," does recognize "buttle" and "buttling," but not "butle." OD also cites "buttle" as US usage, a statement about which I can find no evidence.)

However, like peeling an onion, one has to wonder about NWCD's "a hugmorous usage." Of course, no one on God's green English-speaking earth knows what the hell "hugmorous" is, but a look back at OD states that "buttle" is "humorous" usage. 

All this leads me to believe that (a) NWCD is a crappy plagiarizer, (b) OD is an equally crappy plagiarizer, (c) the writer is fond of composing material in apparent slang, and (d) OD has a strange sense of humor.

To me, "butlering" sounds right. "Butling" is affected and dumb.

On the other hand, I decided to look up a word close to "butler" that the English might know something about. The Oxford Dictionary's grasp on "bugger" seems to be rather authoritative.

2 comments:

Auntybelle said...

Lol. Have missed this stuff of yours, Czar.

czar said...

I miss the occasional comment. I know a few people read these little jottings, but none, I fear, want the guilt by association. My goal is just to stay active enough to keep in Google's sights, although I'm not sure I'm back there yet. That's OK, too. I guess a silent audience is better than none, or an angry one.

Speaking of serendipity, the czarina and I were in a Cracker Barrel earlier this evening, and I was telling her how an hour at the dentist earlier in the week already made me weary of Christmas music -- and I was dreading even walking through the sales area at the restaurant. She said, "Don't forget you're married to a Christian." I said, "I have no problem with Christianity. Show me some evidence of it in here."

If we don't correspond any further before then, a Merry Christmas to you and Uncle.