Washington Post / Getty Images
Washington Post / Getty Images

19 Surprising Rules Copyeditors Used to Enforce

Washington Post / Getty Images
Washington Post / Getty Images

Last week, a cherished usage distinction was killed in a shot heard round the copyediting world. During a session at the American Copy Editors Society, AP Stylebook editors announced that it would from now on be acceptable to use “over” for “more than” when referring to quantity.

In other words, according to AP rules, it's no longer incorrect to say, “over 500 editors fainted at the news.” If you can’t imagine how anyone could find that phrasing objectionable, you are not alone. “Over” has been used to mean “more than” for hundreds of years. But the insistence that “over” was only to be used for spatial and not numerical relationships had been a feature of American newspaper editorial standards since the 19th century, when William Cullen Bryant, editor of the New York Evening Post, compiled his Index Expurgatorius, a precursor to the modern style guide.

The Index Expurgatorius was basically a list of words that got on Bryant’s nerves. He disapproved of the too casual “bogus” and “humbug,” but also the too precious “residence” and “debut.” Some of his directives passed into in-house style guides at other publications and became general newsroom habits, enshrining what was, in many cases, one man’s opinion. Many of Bryant’s guidelines have long since fallen away, as the over/more than distinction now has. Here are 19 rules from the Index Expurgatorius that no one would take a red pen to today:

1. Don’t use “beat” for “defeat”

2. Don’t use “call attention” for “direct attention”

3. Don’t use “conclusion” for “close” or “end”

4. Don’t use “decade” for “ten years”

5. Don’t use “donate” at all

6. Don’t use “collided” at all (it's now acceptable to use "collided," but only if both objects are in motion)

7. Don’t use “fall” for “autumn”

8. Don’t use “graduates” for “is graduated”

9. Don’t use “hardly” for “scarcely”

10. Don’t use “issue” for “question” or “subject”

11. Don’t use “leniency” for “lenity”

12. Don’t use “notice” for “observe”

13. Don’t use “pants” for “pantaloons”

14. Don’t use “prior to” for “before”

15. Don’t use “progress” for “advance”

16. Don’t use “reliable” for “trustworthy”

17. Don’t use “retire” as an active verb

18. Don’t use “sensation” for “noteworthy event”

19. Don’t use “taboo” at all

15 Antiquated Words for 'Happy' We Should Bring Back

Happiness is such a wonderful feeling, why should we only use one word to describe it? In honor of today's International Day of Happiness, why not open up that vocabulary and let the good times roll.


From the late 19th century, meaning “cheerful.”


An expression for “good mood,” used from the late 17th century until the 1930s.


Before humans literally went beyond the moon, this popular phrase from the 1930s means “overjoyed.”


Started out meaning “intoxicated,” but by the 1950s it just meant happy.


As in “tickled pink.”


Also started as a reference to tipsiness, this referred to a general good ol’ time in the 19th century.


In the 19th century, this bouncy term also meant “splendid.”


This 19th century sailor’s slang either referred to the Peruvian port of Callo or acted as a play on the word alcohol. Or both.


From the Latin for “let us rejoice,” this oldie refers to a merry jamboree.


From the Yiddish for “so happy and proud my heart is overflowing.”


This current slang in the UK certainly needs to make a trip across the pond.


A term the Irish use to mean “delirious and excited.” We need to borrow this one, too.


This classic from the 14th century doesn’t get used enough anymore.


This confusing 19th century gem was used to describe someone who was extremely pleased.


From the phrase “to set the cock on the hoop,” meaning open the tap and let the good times flow.

Stephen Morton/Getty News Images
Pop Culture
Duolingo Is Offering a Free Course in Klingon
Stephen Morton/Getty News Images
Stephen Morton/Getty News Images

For Star Trek fans, the final frontier doesn’t end once the credits roll on a new TV show or movie. The franchise extends way beyond that to include countless conventions, board games, video games, mountains of merchandise, and even a dating website specifically for Trekkies. And if you’re a real die-hard for Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, you can even learn Klingon—one of many fictional languages from the franchise, and by far its most fully-realized.

Now, the popular language-learning website Duolingo is helping people master the guttural beauty of Klingon with a free online course that is currently in a public beta. To start, you can choose to either learn some useful phrases or take an online placement test—though that’s recommended for people who already have some experience in Klingon. The course was crafted with the help of CBS—both Trek and the network are owned by Viacom—as well as “some of the world’s leading Klingon experts,” according to a quote from VentureBeat.

If you’re a novice, Duolingo will start you off with some tips on how the Klingon language works, including its alphabet, capitalization rules, and the fact that there’s really no word for “hello” (apparently, a Klingon won’t waste your time with silly trivialities like greetings).

In an interview with VentureBeat, course creator Felix Malmenbeck said there are only about 30 to 50 people who can actually converse in Klingon, though there are more who can communicate through text. But there’s a chance that number can shoot up with this new course, as Malmenbeck revealed that the site has gotten around 170,000 pre-registrations. This might seem like a lot for a fictional language, but just remember that the site’s course for High Valyrian, a fictional language from Game of Thrones, was viewed by 240,000 eager learners.

Klingon made its debut as a very basic language in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture and was partly devised by actor James Doohan, who played Scotty. It was further fleshed out in 1984's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and it has since gotten its own dictionary by the linguist Marc Okrand, the man responsible for working on the official language for the movie.

Duolingo’s Klingon course is available now for free, and if you have a Duolingo Plus subscription, you can experience the whole thing without ads and use it while offline. Just remember, be careful who you say hab sosli' Quch* to. It may not end well. 

*It means “Your mother has a smooth forehead.” Trust us, that’s as insulting as it gets.

[h/t VentureBeat]


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