You never know how much you don't know

I’m constantly astounded by the things I don’t know. There’s nothing like being the one who is supposed to know the answers to make you realize everything you don’t know the answer to. This happens with editing a lot; I can probably make 90% of the changes I make without even thinking or consulting a style guide, but there are always a few instances in which I have to stop and say, “hm,” (and consult a style guide or a dictionary). I inevitably end up learning a lot of new stuff with every manuscript I edit. Today is the day when I send back the long manuscript that has buried me these past few weeks, after I spend a few hours putting on the finishing touches. Just for fun, I thought I’d compile a short list of some of the things I learned in the course of this manuscript.

  • When someone gets lucky, she hits the mother lode, not the mother load
  • Weeklong, as in, “I took a weeklong vacation,”  is a real word according to Merriam-Webster (even though Mozilla Firefox just put a squiggly red line under it. But who are you gonna trust when it comes to words? An Internet browser, or the dictionary? Exactly.)
  • A humidor is a case or enclosure in which one keeps cigars properly humidified (not being a cigar-smoker, I’d never come across this word or this knowledge)
  • When you hire someone to kill another, you’re hiring a hit man, not a hit-man or a hitman. (Don’t words like that seem like they should just be compounded already?)
  • Rearing to go and raring to go are both “correct” phrases for being over-eager, although “raring” came from “rearing” (and as a family that owned horses, the “rearing” phrase always made perfect sense to me. “Raring” doesn’t make the same kind of intuitive sense, but I guess it wouldn’t be the first figure of speech that doesn’t make sense at first glance.)

The one I’m still puzzling over? Do you go to the nurse’s station, the nurses station, or the nurses’ station? No one online seems to have the answer to this one, as apparently nurses are not grammarians (I’ve found several official nursing sites that are inconsistent in their usage of this phrase). I decided to play it safe and make it both plural and possessive; there are, after all, usually multiple nurses at the station, and the station does belong to the nurses. If anyone thinks they can convince me otherwise, feel free. 😉