Tuesday, November 27, 2012

AP Style: man-made, phobia and others

Some updates from the AP style folks:

man-made (with a hyphen - however, popular usage without the hyphen is starting to overrun this)

landline (without a hyphen) Raising the question, how long before this term becomes obsolete?

phobia - AP's adopted the stance that phobia, as "an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness," should not be used in  political or social contexts such as homophobia or Islamophobia. While I like the concept, good luck with that. "-phobia" has become one of those utilitarian phrases people like to glom onto things to create neologisms. I think this is like trying to stop sand in the desert, and I doubt it will be long before we see it on AP's wires, having gotten past some eagle-eyed editor who has heard the phrases in widespread use. (John McIntyre has a longer post on the futility of this, and here's the Slate article he references quoting the clinical psychologist who popularized "homophobia.")

froufrou - in case you're into the fussy, frilly stuff.

"ethnic cleansing" - yes, the quotes are required (I assume unless the term is already inside another quote) by the ever-cautious wire service. (Unless, of course, you are in Yugoslavia in the 1990s or some troubled African countries today - then I suspect the imperative for the quote marks might lessen as the number of slaughtered bodies rises. As so many recent commentators have noted, sometimes you have to call 'em as you see 'em.)

There are some other smaller changes, too. Check the electronic stylebook near you.

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