Copyediting, “Zimmer Leads the Way in Linguistic Journalism”

October 31, 2014

Mark Allen, “Zimmer Leads the Way in Linguistic Journalism” (Copyediting, Oct. 31, 2014)

Ben Zimmer, perhaps the most prolific commentator on the state of our language, is the obvious first choice for the Linguistic Society of America’s new Linguistics Journalism Award. The honor was announced Wednesday.

Zimmer has tackled hundreds of words and phrases and language trends in articles for the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the New York TimesSlate, and others. He is executive producer for Visual Thesaurus and the website.

He is on TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus. He speaks regularly on language matters for local and national media outlets. His examinations of emerging words and usages are valuable for copyeditors looking to keep up with twerking and selfiesfracking and cronuts.

Academics tend to be insular by nature, and linguists have walked a line between explaining usage and going to great lengths to avoid influencing the natural evolution of language. Journalists, who are conservative when it comes to matters of language, have taken the lead in explaining standard English. The linguist journalist is something of a new breed.

“The fact that the LSA created the award in the first place speaks to how writers with academic backgrounds in linguistics are increasingly working their way into widely read media outlets,” Zimmer said in an email. “That’s a welcome development, since writing about language in the mass media has often fallen to journalists and pundits with only a passing familiarity with linguistic scholarship.”

Read the rest here.

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