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What you said about what we said last week
Like all publications, Washington City Paper has a very special group of readers—the ones who storm the comments section to correct our typos, argue with our grammar, dispute our colloquialisms, quibble with our commas, and debate neighborhood boundaries till they can no longer say Swampoodle. For these readers, last week’s cover story, “The D.C. Manual of Style and Usage,” which covered everything from the proper spelling of “bama” to the correct use of “Grahamstanding,” was a bonanza.
And they had plenty to say about it. Along with some predictable griping about our refusal to print the name of the local football team, the comments section produced some thoughtful critiques. “ERRATA,” (that’s the plural of erratum, meaning an error in printing for those of you not versed in Latin) declared reader randy a weiss of our declaration that there is no J Street. “You are not technically correct about J Street. There is indeed as J Street NE, albeit no J Street NW or SW nor SE. Much of J Street NE is in Ward 7 (Deanwood).” Others refused to acknowledge the City Paper creation of the U Street Taco, which earned a mention in our guide. “Please stop trying to make the U Street Taco into a thing,” wrote reader Dave. “It never will be.”
At least one entry provoked debate among writer types on Twitter: the serial comma. Huffington Post writer Jason Linkins tweeted the entry with this explanation: “My favorite and @akmattos’ least favorite part of the @wcp style manual.” Local copywriter Amanda Mattos replied, “I don’t even have to click to know what that says. Grumblegrumblegrumble.” We all have our sore spots, Amanda.
And as is often the case when discussing language precision, a seemingly small detail became a matter of strenuous objection. Responding to our entry for “acronyms,” in which we used DDOT, MPD, DMPED, and WMATA in our examples of proper acronym use, reader Mike L took the time to twice comment that MPD and DMPED are not acronyms. He was echoed by ish, who wrote that our acronym entry is plain wrong. “DDOT is an INITIALISM, not an acronym. Using acronym as a blanket for all abbreviations is a common mistake, especially in D.C. (which is an initialism too).” We thank you for the gentle corrections, readers.
Some responded with support for our editorial decisions, particularly the admonishment to refer to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as “Reagan National Airport” or simply “National”—let’s not go overboard. “It will always be National Airport to me,” wrote commenter DE. “No damn congressperson from Georgia or wherever is going to make it otherwise.” And for reader Dan, our distinguishing of “theater” and “theatre” proved to be cathartic. “In ninth grade, my English teacher took a point off my paper on Shakespeare for using “the Globe Theatre” as a proper noun and “theater” as the generic,” wrote Dan. “Thirty-odd years later I still resent it, and I’m glad to see City Paper is on my side.”
Department of Corrections
Due to a reporting error, Tricia Olszewski’s review of Fishing Without Nets incorrectly credited the film’s screenplay writers. In addition to Sam Cohan, the movie was co-written by Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey, and David Burkman. And due to an editing error, last week’s review of Laughing Man’s Be Baby Black EP failed to add a photograph credit to an image of the band. It was taken by Victoria Milko.