Thursday, October 02, 2003

As someone who recently spent a sleepless night changing every citation in a seventy-seven page paper from MLA to Turabian, I definitely sympathize with this article. Louis Menand evokes the suffering of any crazed graduate student warring with the mandates of the sovereigns of textual style.

Menand's complaints about Microsoft Word are also perfectly accurate, but omit my current battle with the program. You see, the program thinks it knows how to spell better than I do. On occasion it will silently edit my prose, replacing, for example, inwardes with "inwards". This might have been useful to me, if I had not been typing up several lines from the Middle English theological text The Cloud of Unknowing, which includes words like kynde, thei, ymaginacion, fantasie, and, yes, inwardes. I hate to turn Auto-Correct completely off, as I have set it to expand many of my commonly used abbreviations ("bw" for "between"; "Xn" for "Christian"; "abp" for "archbishop", "mdv" for "medieval"...), but if I leave Auto-Correct on, I must proofread my work closely enough to notice when the Anglo-Norman word ceus suddenly becomes "cues".


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