Thursday, January 17, 2008


1. SO THAT WE MAY put this behind us, BOB JOHNSON has apologized to Obama (though well after H. Clinton claimed he had.)

2. HERE IS A BLOGGER who is admirably devoted to the difference between tick marks and quotation marks. To her, I say: I DID NOT KNOW ANY BETTER, and for that...

I am very sorry.



Thomas Burchfield said...

Very good: here's another topic that will help us (a) put the so-called race war in the Democratic Party behind us and (b) provide something new for everyone to famously fume about:

Slate magazine describes the dilemma faced by the sole surviving son of Vladimir Nabokov concerning the fate of the first unfinished draft (consisting solely of handwritten note cards, amounting to maybe thirty pages)of VN's unfinished last novel. (My own response is there in "The Fray" section, titled "Dmitri's Sad Burden.")

So: what, do you think, gives?

AND, seeing as Hodgman is linking to blogs about Hodgman, I have myself have referenced and linked to Hodgman on my blog of 11/12/07 (which blog is on semi-hiatus for the time being until that novel I just know you're all going to read is finished.)

ramona said...

I do feel the tick mark v. quote mark blogger's pain -- it's one of those things that jumps out at you when you know the difference and grates on your last nerve. Well, I guess what actually grates on that nerve is that you see it in multi-million dollar ad campaigns and know that someone in some distant agency should be shot. With bullets. Like these: •••••

Other typographic pet peeve? Ellipses. Why? Because they should have three dots people... THREE. Not four, not four hundred seventy, just the three.

And THAT is all.

Thomas Burchfield said...

Actually, as an editor and proofreader myself, I do need acquaintance with that rule . . . though I also gather from other mistakes that Madison Ave. has made in the past, they really don't give a rodential gluteus about it. Remember "Think Different?"

Oh and aplogies definitely excepted, sir!

Thomas Burchfield said...

I mean, "Think different"? (Aha! Caught me!)

pinhead said...

Mr. Hodgman: "Aplogies?" Really? Perhaps because of your distraction with tick marks you forgot to spellcheck. I mean this in the kindest way, for I am an editor, too.

JackalFive said...

I went to school for graphic design. I remember one teacher telling us about the “proper” and "improper" quotation marks in class one day.

I also remember nobody really caring.

Seeing as most people still get away with txt tlk, misplaced homonyms (ie. Look, their over they're!) and the word "ect" I wouldn't sweat it too much.

Aaron Headly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron Headly said...

It isn't really seconds of time, it's 60ths of a 60th of a degree. The first little mark (') was called a minute of a degree (because everyone thought that a 60th of a degree was pretty small - minute, even).

Then some smarty-pants found out that each minute of a degree could be sliced 59 more ways, and decided to denote the number of these impossibly small (probably imaginary) wedges with a second little mark ("). At first, everyone asked "what's that?" and the (brutally correct) answer was "a second mark."

People being, like me, lazy, that eventually eroded down to "a second."

You could look it up, but why bother?

Aaron Headly said...

I'll add that 'APLOGIES' is obviously an accepted alternate spelling. The author of this blog is an EXPERT. I come here to learn how to spell, not to criticize.

Serenaded Hourly said...

You sure do have a lot of editors on your comment pages, John Hodgman.

Everywhere I've worked (which includes one ad agency that worked for Microsoft AND Apple, but not simultaneously) gave tick/quotes the elegant and simple names "straight" and "curly."

I hate print advertising. Also, I hate ellipses and the people who mistake them for commas or new paragraphs. And finally, taking a break after 10 years of editorial is awesome.