“Did you know that US lexicography even had a seamy underbelly?” Asked esteemed author David Foster Wallace in the intro of his famous essay Authority and American Usage. This essay, released in review/commentary of Bryan A. Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, introduced the lay public to the nuanced debate of prescriptive versus descriptive grammar, conservative versus liberal usage, and the term SNOOT.
With the release of the new “Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition,” I thought it might be important to revisit one of the key questions DFW raised in his essay, not least of all because Garner himself is credited with writing full chapters of the style manual. In his (in)famous piece, DFW asks, “It’s the millennium, post-Everything: Whence the authority to make any sort of credible Appeal for SWE at all?”
The answer to DFW’s question, it so turns out, is the 17th edition of the “Chicago Manual of Style.” The new edition contains updated rules on “etc,” bureaucratese, and capitalization of internet. It also contains a series of established SWE (Standard Written English) rules, such as clarifications on gerunds and infinitives (though Garner doesn’t cover split infinitives here!).
The most prominent change of all might be the elimination of “ibid.” or “ibidem” for citations of the same source.
Best of all, the interactive, online edition available through the Falvey contains each of these rules in discrete segments that make searching through the new rules navigable and manageable. Take a look at the full list of updates, available here.
(For any assistance with understanding these changes, reach out to Director of Academic Integration and History, Sociology & Criminology Liaison Librarian Jutta Seibert.)
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.
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