Carole King, one of the most accomplished pop songwriters of our time, has just published a wonderful new autobiography called A Natural Woman. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book I enjoyed so much. King is very likable, she’s worked with some amazing people, and – my favorite feature of the book – she goes into some detail about how she creates her songs.
A Natural Woman is remarkable for another reason: The editing is meticulous. Comprise is used correctly every time. (It means “include,” not “composed of.”) All the pronouns are correct.
There was just one irritant that somehow escaped the editor: The constant use of respective, a meaningless word that’s distracting and almost always unnecessary. King refers to respective ideas, respective families…respective this and respective that. NO! Stop it!
Here’s just one annoying example. King went to a party with (I am dying of envy) Paul and Linda McCartney. Paul entertainingly reprised a recent appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, “playing the respective roles of David Letterman and Paul Shaffer.” Huh?
If you think a reader is going to be confused, use “own”:
We brought our respective ideas to the session. NO
We brought our own ideas to the session. YES
But it’s still a wonderful book.