May 11, 2015

Meet Mary Norris: Comma Queen

New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris

New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris

We all have pet peeves. But not many of us have the opportunity to rid the world of our pet peeves on a daily basis or for a living. Mary Norris is a copy editor at The New Yorker and has applied her love of language so acutely that she has been crowned the publication’s “Comma Queen.”

More than 30 years ago, Norris caught her first error in the acclaimed magazine: “flower” instead of “flour.” In her new book “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen,” Norris described how she celebrated that afternoon with beer and peanuts for lunch at a bar across the street. Now, Norris has a YouTube series on language and her new book doubles as both a profile on language and a personal memoir.

Norris recently disclosed some of her punctuation pet peeves to The New York Times:

  • “People who call the serial comma the Oxford comma”
  • “the misuse of ‘who’ and ‘whom’
  • “incorrectly deployed apostrophes’

What are yours? Read the introduction of Norris’ book below and catch her on The Kojo Nnamdi Show Tuesday, May 12, at 1:32 p.m.


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