Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Revenge of Bremner

I reread my post from yesterday and began to suspect I used the word "careen" incorrectly. So I checked Words on Words (by John Bremner) and discovered the error of my ways. To quote that esteemed (and late) editing professor at KU:
CAREEN/CAREER/CAROM: The differences in meaning can be seen from the differences in derivation. Careen comes from Latin carina, a ship's keel, and means to sway from side to side. Career comes from French carriere, a racecourse, and means to move forward at high speed. Carom comes from French carambole, the red ball in billiards, and means to strike and rebound. So: "The car careered down the turnpike, careened across the median and caromed of the retaining fence."

Working With Words (Brooks, Pinson, Wilson; 4th edition, Bedford/St. Martin's) agree with Bremner (I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't teach one or all of them).

I really need my own copy of Bremner's book -- I can't keep it out of the KSU library forever (only three months at a time with my faculty ID).

Now that I think about it, maybe I do mean careen, in the sense of swaying from side to side. Or maybe I mean career, because I move quickly from one subject to the next. I don't think I mean carom. (I haven't bounced off myself yet!)

This is what happens when you're an editor. Last summer I got to spend a week with 17 other copy editors at UNC and it was a blast. If you don't understand how much fun a bunch of word geeks can have when unchained from their desks, well, you're not a copy editor. By the way, I'm the one in the red sleeveless shirt standing on the right, looking over the shoulder of the girl at the computer.

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