The New Yorker’s invisible woman

Over the weekend, I discovered a TED Talk by famed New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris, and I was delighted to find that I could share it here! Some of my favorite lines from her talk:

• “Our purpose is to make the author look good.”

• “If we do our job well, we’re invisible.”

And I wanted to cheer when I learned that she, too, abhors “the singular their,” a usage which gives us sentences like, “Everyone in the vicinity held their breath.” What does Norris say about this use of “their” with a singular antecedent?

• “To give it legitimacy, copy editors call it ‘the singular their,’ as if calling it singular makes it no longer plural. It is my job, when I see it in print, to do my best to eliminate it.”

If you have 10 minutes, I think you’d enjoy watching this talk. And if you do, I’d like to hear your own takeaways!

 

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