Once a copy editor, always a copy editor

by Lorien E. Menhennett

You know you’re a still copy editor at heart when

… You’re reading a neuroanatomy textbook, trying to learn about the vestibular system, and come across an antibiotic spelled in two different ways on the same page. Not only do you notice this, but you feel the need to investigate: gentamicin vs. gentamycin? The former is the correct spelling (with the “i”), according to multiple online sources including the Mayo Clinic. But this isn’t enough. You now need to grasp the roots of this mistake. So you dig deeper, and discover that the misspelling is somewhat understandable given that other antibiotics — streptomycin, neomycin, and tobramycin — spell that syllable with a “y” rather than an “i.” And actually, gentamicin (with an “i”) is sold under the brand name Garamycin (with a “y”). After all this, you are mostly satisfied, except that you have no power to correct the error.

Following such a lengthy digression, this is your final, perplexed thought: “Now what was I reading again?”