Monday, May 29, 2006

A Memorial Day reminder

Many of us will be writing stories today mentioning "taps," those haunting 24 notes.

A reminder that under AP, New York Times, Webster's New World College and many other style guides and dictionaries, the term is lowercased with no quotation marks.

And as a bugle call, it is more correctly "sounded" than "played."

So the correct use: A bugler sounded taps at his burial.

I was reminded of this by the misuse on the Web by NPR's "Performance Today," which otherwise has an excellent story on the bugle call and its history, along with a discussion with Army Sgt. Maj. Woody English about taps and its history. (audio)


At 5/29/06, 8:07 PM, Blogger Murley said...

A bugler sounded taps at his burial.

How could a bugler sound taps at his burial. Isn't he dead? ;-)

At 5/29/06, 9:32 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Ah, my friend, you make the classic mistake -- assuming and then ascribing your assumption onto that sentence. How do you know the bugler is not a woman? So if I am reading you correctly, you assume his refers back to the bugler when you have no context.

The sentence was obviously written without context merely to stress a usage point. But if it makes you feel better: A bugler sounded taps at the soldier's burial. :-)

At 5/29/06, 9:51 PM, Blogger Murley said...

Ah, I thought about the bugler being a she, but that destroys the joke, doesn't it?

In copy editing, it may be a classic mistake, but in humor, it's one of the pillars of the craft, as evidenced by mountains of Dilbert cartoons. :-)

hope to see you soon before I move to va.


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