Monday, August 18, 2008

another helpful copyeditor

Lev Raphael talks about creative difference here

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good lord. Once again I must apologize on behalf of my profession for it's more idiotic and arrogant members.

--languagehat

Anonymous said...

Bah, make that "its."

Ithaca said...

The thing that strikes me, though, is that this kind of thing is likeliest to happen when the copyeditor has no specialist knowledge to bring to the text. Mine, as I've said, made hundreds of gratuitous changes to the text - but said she had not bothered to look at the Greek, Japanese and Old Norse because she knew nothing about them and simply assumed they were correct. A copyeditor who was able to bring expertise to those important elements of the text would, it seems to me, be far less likely to feel the need to make a mark by spelling out numbers below 100 and so on.

In the case of Lev Raphael, a copyeditor who knew Yiddish would surely have been much less likely to 'correct' the English of Yiddish speakers in his first book to standard American.

The thing that's frustrating for a writer is that it would be wonderful to have someone go over a text who really did know enough to spot embarrassing oversights. If you can't have that, though, and you have to catch all the mistakes yourself, it's exhausting to have to spend extra time dealing with the 'corrections' that fell within the copyeditor's comfort zone.