Yes I could care less

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an book written by Washington Post copy editor Bill Walsh….

I recently read an article on the term the the American Dialect Society has decided is the 2015 word of the year. It is the gender neutral pronoun they.

Here’s an example of how writers should use it: “Everyone wants their child to go to college.”

Formerly, the correct phrasing would have been seen as, “Everyone wants his or her child to go to college.”

Although I feel some sadness that the correct grammatical form is being cast aside, I’m also happy that  writers can now avoid specifying gender. It not only prevents wordiness (eight words versus 10 in the examples above), it also acknowledges changing ideas about gender identity. Not every man identifies as male; not every woman identifies as female.

Other contenders in the election for word of the year included:

  • Ammosexual, a term for someone who loves their guns a bit too much.
  • Adult used as a verb, meaning “act like a grownup.”
  • Man bun to describe a new male hairstyle.
  • Schlong, used by Donald Trump to mean “defeat soundly.”

But what excited me most about the election was to discover that Washington Post copy editor Bill Walsh has written a new book on language. Titled Yes, I Could Care Less, the book not only demonstrates his commitment to language, it also displays his his sensible opposition to the editing-by-rote school of thought.

You can see a brief and charming trailer for the book. Or, better yet, scroll to the end of this Washington Post story and watch the four-minute interview with Walsh at the end.

I found him impressive enough that I intend to seek out and read all his books — especially this latest one.