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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Missourian drops team's nickname

By Maggie Walter
December 15, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA —  The "Redskins" are gone — at least in print in the Missourian and online at 

That's the latest change to the Columbia Missourian Stylebook as determined by Tom Warhover, executive editor. Tom wrote about his thinking on this topic in his Dear Reader column for August.


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As promised, he engaged two graduate students — Tim Maylander and Casey Bischel — to research the question. According to Tom's note on Monday afternoon announcing the change, "there was nothing there to suggest keeping Redskins had merit. And so, let's drop the word.

"Effective now."

And so we have.

From now on, except in direct quotes where the word is used, the Missourian will refer to the team as the Washington team, the professional team from Washington, D.C., or some such variation that works within the context of the story.

It's a change I heartily endorse.


Thanks to Monica Kwasnik, my colleague on the interactive copy editing desk, for posting an article about some common misconceptions about the lyrics of classic Christmas songs. Written by Arika Okrent, "6 grammar points to watch out for in Christmas songs" was published in the Dec. 6 edition of The Week. You might want to check it out before venturing forth for a night of caroling and hot chocolate. 

A few highlights:

Round yon virgin

"The 'round' in 'Silent Night' might call up imagery of the soft, maternal kind," Okrent wrote, "but in the phrase 'round yon virgin,' it simply means 'around.' 'Yon' is an antiquated word for 'that one' or 'over there.'"

Troll the ancient yuletide carol

"Trolling a carol might sound like some obnoxious attempt to undermine it," wrote Okrent, who noted that "troll" can also mean singing or chanting merrily.

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head

"This line is a perfect storm of lay/lie confusion," Okrent wrote. "'Laid' is the past tense of 'lay,' which should be used here because the little Lord Jesus isn't simply reposing (lying), but setting something down (laying), namely, his head."

You better watch out, you better not cry

Is it "you better" or "you'd better"?

"In the 1800s, people started dropping the 'had,'" she wrote. "These days the bare form is considered correct, if a bit casual for formal contexts. Clearly, 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' wants nothing to do with fancy formality."

With the kids jingle belling and mistletoeing

"Many of our verbs started when someone decided to use a noun to stand for some verbal notion related to that noun," Okrent noted. "First we had 'hammer,' and from that we made 'hammering.' First we had 'message,' and now we have 'messaging.' … So verbs for 'ringing jingle bells' or 'kissing under the mistletoe' aren't so strange at all. At least no more strange than 'gifting' or 'dialoguing.'"

God rest you merry, gentlemen

"Notice the comma placement there?" Okrent wrote. "In Shakespeare's time, 'rest you merry' was a way to express good wishes, to say something like 'peace and happiness to you.'"

For November, nine participants submitted 22 entries in the Show Me the Errors contest. The winner is Jim Terry, one of our most steadfast contributors, which we greatly appreciate. He will receive a Missourian T-shirt and a copy of  "Yes, I Could Care Less" by Bill Walsh. We hope you'll join in the contest, too.

Maggie Walter is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and an interactive news editor at Kudos goes to Jordan Shapiro, Grace Lyden and Katie Yaeger, the trio of journalism students selected as winners of a prestigious Dow Jones News Fund editing internship.