Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Twisted World of the Copy-Editor

Yuga Igarashi on the Granta blog:
There is a danger to copy-editing. You start to read in a different way. You start to see the sentence as machinery. You focus on the gears and levers that connect words to one another; you hunt for the wayward semicolon, the unintentionally ambiguous phrase, the clunky repeated word. You even hope they appear, so you can kill them. You see them when they’re not even there, because you relish slashing your pen across the paper. It gets a little twisted...

For the weekend, at least, I could put all these thoughts aside. It was lovely to be able to relax with colleagues.

There was talk of ordering some food. I looked down at the sandwich menu: kiln smoked salmon and horseradish chive creme fraiche in toasted wholemeal bread. ‘Kiln smoked’ probably should be hyphenated, I thought – it’s acting as an adjective modifying smoked salmon – and ‘creme’ needs the accent. Also, does ‘in’ make sense here? Wouldn’t it be better if it was ‘on’? Was this some kind of innovative sandwich that involved salmon being placed inside the bread?

‘Why don’t we share some appetizers to start?’ one of us suggested.

‘Redundant,’ I muttered to myself. Appetizers are starters; either cut ‘to start’ or change ‘appetizers’ to ‘plates’. Then again, in some cases, people order only appetizers, and don’t go on to have a main course. So was it actually essential to say ‘to start’, to clarify that, in this instance, everyone should feel free to order more food after the first sharing course? I wasn’t sure.
(via Newmark's door)

1 comment:

  1. Wrong. Sure many people may consider appetizers as the " initial" food to begin with, but 1) There are side dishes that I would rather "start" with, so a contrast may be made at such a time, of course being understood WITHOUT superfluous words cluttering up the conversation, 2) Even granting that "appetizers" are "starters", the use of the word share allows for the language used.