Archive for November, 2013

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Publisher – Aggregator – Master Distributor

Posted: 11/20/2013 5:06 pm on Huffington Post

There are a lot of bad grammar posts in the world. These days, anyone with a blog and a bunch of pet peeves can crank out a click-bait listicle of supposed grammar errors. There’s just one problem — these articles are often full of mistakes of one sort or another themselves. Once you’ve read a few, you start noticing some patterns. Inspired by a recent post titled “Grammar Police: Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes,” I decided to make a list of my own.

1. Confusing grammar with spelling, punctuation, and usage. Many people who write about grammar seem to think that grammar means “any sort of rule of language, especially writing.” But strictly speaking, grammar refers to the structural rules of language, namely morphology (basically the way words are formed from roots and affixes), phonology (the system of sounds in a language), and syntax (the way phrases and clauses are formed from words). Most complaints about grammar are really about punctuation, spelling (such as problems with you’re/your and other homophone confusion) or usage (which is often about semantics). This post, for instance, spends two of its twelve points on commas and a third on quotation marks.

2. Treating style choices as rules. This article says that you should always use an Oxford (or serial) comma (the comma before and or or in a list) and that quotation marks should always follow commas and periods, but the latter is true only in most American styles (linguists often put the commas and periods outside quotes, and so do many non-American styles), and the former is only true of some American styles. I may prefer serial commas, but I’m not going to insist that everyone who doesn’t use them is making a mistake. It’s simply a matter of style, and style varies from one publisher to the next.

3. Ignoring register. There’s a time and a place for following the rules, but the writers of these lists typically treat English as though it had only one register: formal writing. They ignore the fact that following the rules in the wrong setting often sounds stuffy and stilted. Formal written English is not the only legitimate form of the language, and the rules of formal written English don’t apply in all situations. Sure, it’s useful to know when to usewho and whom, but it’s probably more useful to know that saying To whom did you give the book? in casual conversation will make you sound like a pompous twit.

4. Saying that a disliked word isn’t a word. You may hate irregardless (I do), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a word. If it has its own meaning and you can use it in a sentence, guess what — it’s a word. Flirgle, on the other hand, is not a word — it’s just a bunch of sounds that I strung together in word-like fashion. Irregardless and its ilk may not be appropriate for use in formal registers, and you certainly don’t have to like them, but asStan Carey says, “‘Not a word’ is not an argument.”

5. Turning proposals into ironclad laws. This one happens more often than you think. A great many rules of grammar and usage started life as proposals that became codified as inviolable laws over the years. The popular that/which rule, which I’ve discussed at length before, began as a proposal — not “everyone gets this wrong” but “wouldn’t it be nice if we made a distinction here?” But nowadays people have forgotten that a century or so ago, this rule simply didn’t exist, and they say things like “This is one of the most common mistakes out there, and understandably so.” (Actually, no, you don’t understand why everyone gets this “wrong,” because you don’t realize that this rule is a relatively recent invention by usage commentators that some copy editors and others have decided to enforce.) It’s easy to criticize people for not following rules that you’ve made up.

6. Failing to discuss exceptions to rules. Invented usage rules often ignore the complexities of actual usage. Lists of rules such as these go a step further and often ignore the complexities of those rules. For example, even if you follow the that/which rule, you need to know that you can’t use that after a preposition or after the demonstrative pronounthat — you have to use a restrictive which. Likewise, the less/fewer rule is usually reduced to statements like “use fewer for things you can count,” which leads to ugly and unidiomatic constructions like “one fewer thing to worry about.” Affect and effect aren’t as simple as some people make them out to be, either; affect is usually a verb and effect a noun, but affect can also be a noun (with stress on the first syllable) referring to the outward manifestation of emotions, while effect can be a verb meaning to cause or to make happen. Sometimes dumbing down rules just makes them dumb.

7. Overestimating the frequency of errors. The writer of this list says that misuse ofnauseous is “Undoubtedly the most common mistake I encounter.” This claim seems worth doubting to me; I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “nauseous.” Even if you consider it a misuse, it’s got to rate pretty far down the list in terms of frequency. This is why linguists like to rely on data for testable claims — because people tend to fall prey to all kinds of cognitive biases such as the frequency illusion.

8. Believing that etymology is destiny. Words change meaning all the time — it’s just a natural and inevitable part of language. But some people get fixated on the original meanings of some words and believe that those are the only correct meanings. For example, they’ll say that you can only use decimate to mean “to destroy one in ten.” This may seem like a reasonable argument, but it quickly becomes untenable when you realize that almost every single word in the language has changed meaning at some point, and that’s just in the few thousand years in which language has been written or can be reconstructed. And sometimes a new meaning is more useful anyway (which is precisely why it displaced an old meaning). As Jan Freeman said, “We don’t especially need a term that means ‘kill one in 10.'”

9. Simply bungling the rules. If you’re going to chastise people for not following the rules, you should know those rules yourself and be able to explain them clearly. You may dislike singular they, for instance, but you should know that it’s not a case of subject-predicate disagreement, as the author of this list claims — it’s an issue of pronoun-antecedent agreement, which is not the same thing. This list says that “‘less’ is reserved for hypothetical quantities,” but this isn’t true either; it’s reserved for noncount nouns, singular count nouns, and plural count nouns that aren’t generally thought of as discrete entities. Use of less has nothing to do with being hypothetical. And this one says that punctuation always goes inside quotation marks. In most American styles, it’s only commas and periods that always go inside. Colons, semicolons, and dashes always go outside, and question marks and exclamation marks only go inside sometimes.

10. Saying that good grammar leads to good communication. Contrary to popular belief, bad grammar (even using the broad definition that includes usage, spelling, and punctuation) is not usually an impediment to communication. A sentence like Ain’t nobody got time for that is quite intelligible, even though it violates several rules of Standard English. The grammar and usage of nonstandard varieties of English are often radically different from Standard English, but different does not mean worse or less able to communicate. The biggest differences between Standard English and all its nonstandard varieties are that the former has been codified and that it is used in all registers, from casual conversation to formal writing. Many of the rules that these lists propagate are really more about signaling to the grammatical elite that you’re one of them — not that this is a bad thing, of course, but let’s not mistake it for something it’s not. In fact, claims about improving communication are often just a cover for the real purpose of these lists, which is…

11. Using grammar to put people down. This post sympathizes with someone who worries about being crucified by the grammar police and then says a few paragraphs later, “All hail the grammar police!” In other words, we like being able to crucify those who make mistakes. Then there are the put-downs about people’s education (“You’d think everyone learned this rule in fourth grade”) and more outright insults (“5 Grammar Mistakes that Make You Sound Like a Chimp“). After all, what’s the point in signaling that you’re one of the grammatical elite if you can’t take a few potshots at the ignorant masses?

12. Forgetting that correct usage ultimately comes from users. The disdain for the usage of common people is symptomatic of a larger problem: forgetting that correct usage ultimately comes from the people, not from editors, English teachers, or usage commentators. You’re certainly entitled to have your opinion about usage, but at some point you have to recognize that trying to fight the masses on a particular point of usage (especially if it’s a made-up rule) is like trying to fight the rising tide. Those who have invested in learning the rules naturally feel defensive of them and of the language in general, but you have no more right to the language than anyone else. You can be restrictive if you want and say that Standard English is based on the formal usage of educated writers, but any standard that is based on a set of rules that are simply invented and passed down is ultimately untenable.

And a bonus mistake:

13. Making mistakes themselves. It happens to the best of us. The act of making grammar or spelling mistakes in the course of pointing out someone else’s mistakes even has a name, Muphry’s law. This post probably has its fair share of typos. (If you spot one, feel free to point it out — politely! — in the comments.)

Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and language writer with a master’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. He blogs about usage, editing, and linguistics at Arrant Pedantry, where this post first appeared.
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Reposted from Folio.

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Facebook leads in volume, but other portals have stronger demos.

11/14/2013 -16:44 PM

Twitter has gotten more attention lately, but Facebook still has massive advantages in content consumption.

The latter is a news portal for close to a third of all American adults, according to latest study from the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Used for news by 10 percent of Americans, YouTube is actually a more-viewed source than Twitter (8 percent).

That’s good news for publishers with a lot of “likes,” but it doesn’t mean the other channels can be ignored—content probably isn’t going to reach people on multiple channels. Two out of three of U.S. adults get news from one, and only one, social network.

Younger, richer, lefty: Most of the platforms in the study skew younger with mid- to high-level income users who are predominantly left-leaning politically, but distinctions did emerge.

Notably, Facebook’s user base is 58-percent female, while YouTube (57 percent) and LinkedIn (67 percent) cater to male audiences; Twitter is 50-50. LinkedIn also stood out in age—half of its users fall in the 30-49 year-old demographic; just 18 percent are under age 30—and income—63 percent of LinkedIn users earn at least $75,000.

Where else do they look: Twitter users are the most insular when it comes to consuming news content, according to Pew. Out of all social network users, they’re the least likely to turn to print, TV or radio.

Twitterers will look down at their phones when they want news though—54 percent “often” consume their news content via mobile devices. LinkedIn was the second-most mobile news source (51 percent), with Facebook (38 percent) and YouTube (37 percent) failing to crack 40 percent.

reddit…America’s No.1 source for news: By one measure, reddit was the most popular news site of all—more than 60 percent of its users get news on the site, Pew says.

Despite the high percentage of news consumers, its small base—Pew puts the figure at about 9 million users; for comparison, they say Facebook has 202 million and Twitter has 50 million—means that just 2 percent of the U.S. population gets its news there.

Michael RondonBY MICHAEL RONDON — Michael Rondon is associate editor of Folio: magazine.


Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional published book market

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional published book market

Publisher – Aggregator – Master Distributor

By Jason Boog on October 30, 2013 3:42 PM
Originally on GalleyCat!

recordplayerHave you ever quoted song lyrics in your book? Music can set the mood, evoke a certain setting or channel a particular emotion.

However, writers need to be aware of copyright issues surrounding music in books. We caught up withCopyright Clearance Center‘s author and creator relations director Christopher Kenneally, discovering the key questions authors should ask before including a song. Kenneally explained:

Consider not quoting the song. Lyrics, like all creative expression, are copyrighted. Copyright gives the author or creator the exclusive right to republication of the work. Any writer who wishes to quote lyrics, or for that matter, passages from another’s book, must obtain permission first. It’s probably worth asking how necessary or vital such quotation is to any particular creative work.

Kenneally added:

If it’s used to set a mood or establish a period, it’s easy enough to refer to song titles, which, under U.S. law, are not copyrighted. However, some novelists and short story writers – Ann Beattie is perhaps the most famous example – find it essential to quote from song lyrics as a way of establishing credible characters or settings.

We posed the same question about self-published books, and received this answer:

Just because you’ve made yourself the publisher, doesn’t mean you have the right to make up your own copyright law. Self-publishing has, in many respects, freed authors to express themselves as they wish. But it has also added greatly to their responsibilities. Today, self-published authors must not only write, but also market, sell and obtain rights permissions.

Finally, Kenneally explained the steps authors need to take to get permission to use song lyrics:

For any permission request, the first step is to identify the copyright holder. This is not as easy as it sounds. Look for the copyright symbol on the CD sleeve and the name of the publisher. However, in an increasingly digital world where downloads are more common, this sort of “metadata” is not always immediately available.

If you contact the publisher, don’t expect a fast reply. He or she will usually need to contact several different rightsholders who may be on tour or (as it happens in rock) have recently climbed the stairway to heaven. Do expect that for all but the most obscure artist, the reuse fees may be significant. If you run into a roadblock, there are organizations that will provide assistance. Such “content management organizations” include ASCAPBMI, as well asCopyright Clearance Center.


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