Luckily, one woman—Buzzfeed's Emmy J Favilla—has produced oneby Sam Leith / December 14, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Internet: capital I or lower-case I? Internet or internet? No doubt Prospect’s stylebook has a ruling on the subject. But it’s a matter of some pride for BuzzFeed’s copy chief Emmy J Favilla that back in 2012, when the Associate Press Stylebook and most other arbiters were still insisting on a capital I, she ruled that the word should be lower-case on the unimprovable grounds that “well, capitalising it looked weird.” Last year APS belatedly came round to her point of view.
Every style guide presents a set of rules and preferences—and those rules and preferences help to define a publication’s personality. Simon Heffer’s style guide for the Daily Telegraph, for instance, rules that “Christmas lunch is what most of our readers would eat, not Christmas dinner.” (Charles Moore’s previous style guide for the same publication, more inclusively, troubled to warn that writing that Leeds was “two hours away by train” would not be true for those of the paper’s readers who lived in Leeds.) BuzzFeed’s personality is millennial, internet-savvy and informal—and its style guide reflects that.
Favilla’s new book, A World Without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age, is a discussion of how she arrived at her decisions, and how she sees the English language behaving online—which means that as well as ruling on the serial comma, she’s arbitrating on whether “butthole” should be hyphenated, why “Juggalo” deserves to be capitalised, the set responses to “updog” (“Nothing. What’s up with you?”) and the verbal usage of “Neville Longbottom.”