Friday, March 30, 2012

Editing Frivolity . . .

Editorial Stress

I've been quite busy grading, correcting, and editing recently, and I can usually handle all sorts of texts, but I occasionally reach my limit, as with a text that offers such wordy statements as the following:
During the National Self-Improving Model Workers' Contest, spanning for the period from January 29 of 1998 to 30th of the same month, the DPRK ended the arduous march and proclaimed a socialist strong and prosperous nation as a new goal to be achieved.

I sighed aloud and wrote a note to the one responsible, whether author or translator:
Here is a teachable moment. Look at this clause: "spanning for the period from January 29 of 1998 to 30th of the same month." See how verbose this is? You need only write, "January 29-30, 1998."

Later in the same text, I encountered this tautological gem:
However the word 'nation' was substituted with 'nation'.

I sighed even more loudly and wrote:
The word "nation" was substituted for (or "by"? Not "with"!) the word "nation"? This is either an extremely subtle point, or someone (author? translator?) is being very careless.

Most of the first half of this text was even worse, impossible to understand. Much of the introduction was presented in the past perfect tense, apparently to express the subjunctive mood, e.g., 'This paper had intended to show . . . .' It had intended? So . . . did it, or did it not? In fact, does it, or does it not? Needless to say, I gave up trying to edit such a text and advised those who'd requested my editing help to first pre-edit before passing a text along to me.

I have my professional pride . . .



At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, This is almost worse than the english text on the ATV sign from your vacation. I deal with people from eight to tem different nationalities every day and one of the phrases I get all the time is "Please do the needful". The "needful" what? Somehow I have to figure out what they want or spend time going back and forth to get them to drill down to what it is they are asking me to do...


At 5:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, English is international, but people still don't speak the same language.

Jeffery Hodges

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