Defining my terms …

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I hadn’t been all that aware of it, but I suppose now that I should have: Just as some folks confuse words that sound alike for each other, not everyone has the same definitions for some of them. Case in point:

Define the following terms:  Proofreader, Copy Editor, Developmental EditorGhostwriter, Collaborator, Editorial Consultant and Writer.

About half the time I put in a bid on an “editing” job, I find I’m setting myself up, either for a whole lot more work than I had planned on for the compensation, or for a very unhappy client! (I’m now rebuilding my Rate Sheet to indicate how those roles differ from (and mesh with) one another, and how much I’m willing to perform them for while trying to make a living.)

Let’s do a little definition-work here (NOTE: I’ve performed in all of these roles at one time or another in my journeys, and am still willing to do so for the right price!). Comments are as always most welcome.

Proofreader: Once upon a time, back in the days of metal typesetting and printshops, this term was used to describe a person who sat hunched over two versions of the same material: an original (which had already been edited and otherwise smoothed out, so that it represented exactly how the content was to be represented in the final printing); and a printed-out version of what the typesetter had input from that original, in the typeface and font required.


The Fear of Being “Me” (reprise)

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Hello again, gentle reader,

Well, I’ve been wracking my brain for something new to show for these efforts, and frankly, nothing has shown up. Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned this post (from back in July!) to pretty much everyone I meet, and very few have ever seen it (including some who claim to read this blog regularly?). I still think it’s one of my best entries among the 40 or so I’ve done so far.



Now we come to one of my real annoyances: the refusal of most people to use the objective case properly when dealing with pronouns. I refer of course to the infamous use of “I” (instead of “me”) as the object of a preposition, as well as in other non-subjective conditions. To put it bluntly, “between you and I” is not a correct way to use those words.


The show must go on

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. . .  and so must this blog. The title this week is actually doubly appropriate, since it involves another homophonic (same sounding) word tht actually relates to show business:

A person who continues on, despite adverse conditions (health issues, lost love, fired from job, death in family, etc.), and does not let this stop his/her progress forward, is called a “real trouper” — not, as many would have it, a “trooper.”


Four more for the year . . .

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Another long gap, another stretch of interesting life—although this stretch was actually pretty productive, editing-wise: two novels, a novella, a long short story, four Asian technical papers . . .  and two projects begun and dropped because they were just way out of my experiential expertise (although both look promising for future other-topic ventures)!

What to say today, to wrap up both a calendar-year and an impending “cliff dive”?

Let’s try one more round of “potato/potahto,” four more commonly confused words that sound alike but mean vastly different things:

  1. edition/addition:  An “edition” is a version of something, as in a history book that gets re-issued, often with new material added or deleted. Meanwhile, the only meaning for “addition” is the mathematical one, whether used in that context directly or in the phrase “in addition” (which merely means “also” but is a slightly more edumacated-sounding way to put it). More

Pleonasmic simplicity

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Today I learned a new word, and now I’m going to inflict it on you, my devoted readers (and the other folks who’ve unwittingly stumbled onto this blog and not as yet found the strength to run away?).

That word is:   pleonasm

I ran across it while reading the manual for a potential editing job; I have to admit I had not been aware that there was a word to describe this situation, but I am glad that there is one.

A “pleonasm” (despite what it might sound like) is a certain form of redundancy. The definition (at least the simple one), in fact, is precisely that:

pleonasm: (noun) the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in, the man he said); redundancy

(Note how the two definitions even demonstrate the word and its solution. Well it made me chuckle a bit!)

The word derives from the Greek pleon, meaning “excessive or abundant.”


All right, already!


Today I’ll address another of those odd mixups that almost everyone gets, umm, well . . . “all wrong”!

Let’s begin with the “rule”:

It’s not only not “alright” to use that spelling (except in very rare situations, see below), it’s (almost always) just plain wrong!

Here are the formal differences:

all right (adjective): complete, entirely correct. “Our preparations for the camping trip were all right for the weather we encountered.” (i.e., we made all the right preparations)

alright (adverb): satisfactorily, adequately. “We didn’t have a cover for the tent, but we made out alright in spite of the rain.”. (Also used as an assent to something proposed, as in “I’m going to the store to pick up some veggies. Okay?” “Yeah, alright!”)

The real difference might be seen as one of degree: if something is “all right” it is entirely correct, while it being “alright” could be seen as merely “adequate” or “okay.” The effort under way to distinguish these is commendable, although (note that this is never written as “all though”!) it is as yet not seen as “proper English.” (Note: Although I used several sources to research this entry, as usual one of the best was Grammar Girl, although even she initially rejects any use of “alright” . . . before conceding that it is becoming more and more common.)


More confused words

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Here are a few more to contemplate:

1.  Desert, Deserts and Desserts: Every time I see it written that someone “got his just desserts” I visualize coconut cream pies being thrown. Meanwhile, when folks refer to the after-dinner pastry or other sweet treat, using only one “s” in the middle, my mouth gets very dry. Here’s the difference:

(a)   A desert (de-sert) is a place with hot sun and little rain; camels or other fauna with hardy constitutions may inhabit it, or you may remember it from the old Road Runner cartoons.

(b)   Your just deserts (de-serts) are what you deserve (good or bad).

(c)   When it’s time for dessert (de-sert), you get to sample those pies,  cakes, candies, etc. (My favorite was always cherry pie, with a cream cheese topping, which my Mom used to make for my birthday “cake” … but I may not taste that again in this life.)

2.  Disinterested vs. Uninterested: This one should be simple to remember: If you really don’t care (or the topic just bores you), you’re “uninterested” in it. However, if you have no stake (personal or financial) in the outcome, you could serve as a “disinterested observer,” or even as a fair-witness (extra points if you can name the source of that concept!) impartial arbitrator of the situation, since you are considered impartial or neutral.


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