I have not blogged for a while, as have been too busy with work – which is great, but I thought I would start 2014 with a cheeky blog to get me back in the swing of things.
To answer the question above, you might think the obvious answer was a great big resounding YES! I mean who better to check your work than someone who is an absolute stickler for grammar, right?!
I would have to partly disagree with you though. Why?
To help me explain, here is a fun little definition I found in the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com)
Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome
Grammatical (or grammar) pedantry syndrome is an illness or a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder where someone has a compulsive desire to correct any grammatical errors one has made and is obsessed with taking this peculiar, constant, and vexatious (from the target’s perspective) action.
“Me and mark ate cookies!”
“You mean, ‘Mark and I ate cookies!’”
“Sorry, I have Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome.”
In informal writing, slavish addiction to ‘correct’ forms of grammar can sometimes mean that the piece comes over as stiff, boring and inflexible. Inflexibility in this case can mean that the writer (or the editor who is checking over the work), is unwilling to move with the times and to follow – for example – the increasing trend to abbreviate etc. In formal writing of course, there should be a greater adherence to what is considered to be the best grammar.
I do proofreading and copy editing for a few copy writers and I check their marketing, copy and of course their blogs. More and more, I am coming across informal use of contractions, for example:
Don’t (rather than the more formal do not),
Isn’t (is not) and
Would’ve … well it should of course be would have (and not, as is so frequently written – although not by grammar pedants, clearly - would of)! That is just so wrong.
It would perhaps be hard for a grammar pedant to let contractions such as these go, and yet in many cases this informal way of writing is a deliberate choice and the ‘chatty style’ is seen as more likely to appeal to the target market.
If as a proofreader or copy editor, you deliberately set out to change things because they are not traditional or do not sit quite right with the way in which you were taught, you are going to quickly be out of work.
It is so important to not correct for correction’s sake and to resist the desire to bring out the metaphorical red pen. Sometimes, you have to let some things – particularly where there are no real hard and fast rules – go.
In my opinion, to be a good editor you have to bear this in mind, and more importantly, you must be consistent and honest with the writer.
No one wants an editor or proofreader who hasn’t (see what I am doing here!) a clue about the correct use of grammar, but grammar pedants probably do not make good copy editors, as they are not flexible and open-minded enough.
Until next time…
Some days you just cannot find any inspiration – divine or otherwise, to be creative.
I know that my job as a proofreader/copy editor is mainly about making other people’s creative efforts read better or at least read more accurately, but I too need to be creative.
How so? Well I have to be creative on this blog don’t I? I certainly have to be creative in my social media activities and marketing activities.
It is not enough and will get dull if I continue to post up the same line – “for all of your proofreading and copy editing needs, use Copy-proof” or “for peace of mind – use a proofreading and copy editing service like Copy-proof’s” etc.
You have to be interesting and witty and original (or at least try to be) and that is where the creative block often creeps in.
Think on it, you are tired, your eyes are fuzzy with staring at the screen all day, the kids are being demanding, the dog needs walking and dinner needs to be prepared… how can you be creative with all that going on?
Actually, I take my hat off to all of the authors out there, who are creative and do have to do all of those things. I guess it is about getting into the zone and dropping everything (not literally) when the creative mood does strike!
I am not one of those people who find it particularly easy to just drop everything and at the back of my mind are all the chores and other domestic drudgery that await me!
When I think about it, I do have to be creative as a proofreader/copy editor, because I have to be creative with other people’s words. To a point anyway – I can’t change everything otherwise you lose the ‘essence’ of the story, or the piece of marketing you have been asked to ‘tidy’ up.
I do get a particular kind of buzz out of making something read better – perhaps it is the creative author that may be lurking in there somewhere, trying to come out.
What it does boil down to though is… words! Lots of them and I just love them.
Perhaps if you love them, you will never truly get writer’s block as your head is just too full of them and they will come out sometime, somewhere.
Keep writing friends and I will keep editing (creatively, or not!)
So you are thinking of working as a freelancer? It is not for everyone, but it may be for you!
How do the following considerable benefits sound to you?
- You can choose a career that offers something that is in demand.
- You can be home-based – no more sitting in traffic jams or waiting for a train on a freezing cold platform!
- You can set your own hours – if you are a parent you can work school hours and can possibly do away with day care, completely. This of course will save you money.
- You can have job flexibility.
- You can even work in your pjs if the mood takes you – unless you are worried about window cleaners and visitors…oh and maybe not if you have to do a school run…but still!
- You can decide not only when to work, but for whom – well if you are lucky to have that choice of course!
- You can be your own boss and make decisions that are important for you and your family rather than conforming to a company’s ideas/ethos etc.
For me, the decision to become a freelancer came at a time, when I was being made redundant from an industry I had been in for years – recruitment – and I needed to work part-time because of the children. I had to identify what it was that I was good at and I enjoyed doing.
Et voilà the idea of becoming a proofreader was born!
I was a bit of a frustrated proofreader when I worked in recruitment, although there were plenty of opportunities to use my red pen on applicants’ CVs!
So… I decided I would finally go it alone as a proofreader, signed up to do a professional proofreading/editing course and set up Copy-proof.
There are of course, downsides to freelancing work and I won’t pretend otherwise:
- Freelance work can be likened to waiting for buses – none for ages and then they all come at once!
- You can have super months when you have earned a lot and then there are others when it is much quieter. Be aware of this before you start.
- You can get lonely from time to time too and you may miss the camaraderie of an office. Make sure you meet with friends/family and find something you enjoy doing to break up the day.
- The buck stops with you of course as well – if you don’t put the effort in to market yourself for example, you won’t succeed.
Nearly four years on, I am still enjoying it.
There could be more work of course at times and at others, when I am swamped with deadlines to meet, I think,
“I wish I was working 9-5!” but, the flexibility it gives me, makes it all worthwhile…most of the time.
Until next time…
Is it any wonder that foreigners find English so hard to learn? You have to feel sorry for kids too, as they struggle with the above vagaries of the English language! Mind you, no offence to any teachers reading this blog, but looking at my kids’ work, mistakes are not corrected enough these days in my opinion. The number of times, homophones (for that is the correct title for words that sound the same and are spelt differently), have not been corrected, has to be seen to be believed.
I cringe, every time I see someone has written, “Your right” (You’re wrong, actually!) “There happy” is another cringe moment and how about “Are you coming to?”
Is it complement or compliment, principal or principle, made or maid, hear or here…the list goes on and on. Homophones are confusing.
Tricky old language… English!
Mind you, if you are familiar with German, you will realise that we probably have it easy. In German you don’t only have to learn which words are male (not mail of course) or female, but, there is a third gender to consider as well – neuter. For example ‘the’ in German can either be: der (masculine) die (feminine) or das (neuter) – tricky!
Some of the spelling rules must also be a nightmare for those trying to learn our language. However, at least there are handy little mnemonics such as “i before e except after c!” “Change y into i and add es” – to get a plural.
Talking of pluralisation…
If hoof can becomes hoofs or hooves, why does roof not become rooves as well as roofs? Why does foot become feet and not foots and why do we have one sheep and lots of sheep as well?
Don’t even get me started on apostrophe use and where they go.
How about ‘its’ versus ‘it’s’? This is another big bugbear of mine. I have seen this written incorrectly, more times than I care to remember.
‘Its’ is an adjective and is possessive (i.e. belonging to something) such as the dog wagged its tail (not tale though!) ‘It’s’ is a contraction of it is. “It’s important to brush your teeth” for example. ‘It’s’ can also be used as a contraction of it has – it’s been fun!
I hope it’s been if not fun, then a little informative. I could go on, but I won’t.
Until the next time then!
Is it laziness that makes people substitute correct English for text language? Is it laziness or a lack of time? Or is it a lack of care and attention?
As a proofreader/editor, it just does not feel right to text u instead of you, or r instead of are. How about plse, or, btw, or gtg and brb? (Be right back… for the uninitiated).
Actually, I am completely up on ‘text speak’ (even though I do not choose to write it). With a teenage daughter in the house, it is impossible not to be. However, even I have had trouble with some of the more unsavoury abbreviations and have had them explained to me by my daughter (with much eye-rolling). I won’t go into some of them here as they really are not that polite.
Lol – do you know that one? It is not lots of love (believe me you would be forgiven for thinking that), but laugh out loud.
What makes me cringe even more is when teenagers say “lol” when something is funny! How crazy is that? If something makes you laugh out loud, surely you just do it – laugh I mean? You don’t just say lol.
One word (not really text speak), that is guaranteed to make every adult in the world cringe… is of course: like!
Omg (sorry!), where did the proliferation of that word; used in the wrong context most of the time, come from? I would love to blame American TV. My daughters watch a lot of kid’s TV and most of it is American. Like is used by every child from about the age of 5 upwards on every programme in sickening quantities.
I have wanted to scream sometimes – as I am driving my daughter and her friends around – at the number of times they have said that word. A conversation would go something like this (note the proper use of the word like there):
“It was like, you know…he said that she was like not that pretty and she said like… do you even know what you are talking about?” Arrgh!
OK that may be a bit of a parody of what they say, but believe me when I say that on one 15 minute journey I counted at least 30 likes!
What really concerns me is what is going to happen to our language in the future, if text speak and abbreviations become so commonplace, is what is accepted as ‘proper’ English going to disappear?
Did you know that lol is already in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary? I don’t know about you, but I think it is shocking. So is innit by the way – horrific.
The English language is evolving and there is a distinct crossover of other languages into our languages already with several ‘foreign’ words for example in daily use – think: déjà vu, or fait accompli for example. Part of me, believes that it is important to incorporate the changes into our working language, but another part of me hopes that text speak and abbreviations don’t become substitutes for real words.
Anyway gtg – lol