• Windell Oskay

Some minor celebrities of the publishing world gathered in the University of Chicago’s International House last night for a discussion on The Chicago Manual of Style, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2006. Contrary to what I insinuated in a blog post yesterday, the room was full, which suggests a decent fan base for the manual and its creators, or an unusual number of people with “control issues,” or both. Carol Fisher Saller, whose online Chicago Manual of Style Q&A was described by moderator Alison Cuddy as “the Car Talk of the Chicago Manual,” was unflaggingly smiley (she also authors children’s books), and her boss, University of Chicago Press managing editor for books Anita Samen, had the patient mien of a longtime wordsmith. U. of C. linguist Jason Riggle directs the Chicago Language Modeling Laboratory. And Ben Zimmer, whose charge (enviable or unenviable, I’m not sure) was to follow William Safire as the New York Times’ On Language columnist, used phrases like “lends a certain kind of affective stance to your writing” with regard, in this instance, to the emoticon, whose evolution Zimmer has tracked. It used to have a nose, he said, but now “there’s been a big onslaught of noseless emoticons.”