The Point Where Linguistics and Style Manuals Meet

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

Ever since my Cognitive Science and Linguistics days, I’ve been an avid reader of Steven Pinker’s work. On my bookshelf are autographed copies of Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and a few others. For a few years, I was less involved in linguistics, but editing brought me back closer to it. But I’ve noted that there are drastic differences between topics taught in theoretical linguistics and topics taught in editing, and the gap has been difficult and tiresome to bridge.

Since I became an editor, the Chicago Manual of Style, Woe Is I and The Subversive Copyeditor: Advice from Chicago have been my go-to books. Finally, Steven Pinker has written the exact kind of book that I’ve been waiting for. It links the two worlds together and explains why we are taught to edit the way that we do. It isn’t just about following the rules, it is about why the rules exist.

Of course, the Chicago Manual of Style’s website had an interview with Pinker about his new book and where the two worlds meet. It’s a wonderful read, and I’m looking forward to acquiring and reading his latest work.

Follow the link to read the article.

Are there any language rules that you’ve learned over the years that have surprised you? What are they?

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