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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.

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More homophones . . .

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Whoops! Been too long since the last go-round; a combination of political stuff, songwriting, memoirs work . . . and even some actual editing.

All I have today is a continuation of the “homophone” patrol. Some of these (actually, all of them) you really should already know, but having seen each of them misused at least once in the past fortnight, I figure that forewarned is forearmed, or some such . . . .

  1. pairs vs. pears: The first is a description of groups of two of something, as in “pairs of socks.” The other one is about fruit (varieties include Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, etc.).
  2. bare vs. bear: The first is about skimpiness, mere adequacy, as in “bare necessities” (or “barenaked”); The second deals with withstanding something, as in “bearing up under hardship” (it can also refer to the woodland creature whose Latin name is Ursus, the one who “does it in the woods”).
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Effective usage, without the affectations

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Oh boy, it’s time for another “homophone” lesson, this time regarding the never-ending battle between “effect” and “affect.” I would have saved this, if I hadn’t noticed (Horrors! In the Christian Science Monitor?) the following sentence, regarding tropical-storm-now-Hurricane Isaac and its possible positive side-effects:

“It could also add needed water to the river systems that drain into the Mississippi. And by adding moisture to the air, the storm may also set the stage for more rain in the future in some drought-effected areas.” 

Quickly now, where is the error here? Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

Time’s up, although you should know just from the topic of today’s blog: it should read “drought-affected areas” . . . as in “areas affected by drought.” (A small case might be made that this was an attempt by the journalist or typesetter to call those areas “drought-effected” because they were in a sense “created or produced by the effects of the drought” . . . I’m not buyin’ it!)

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The pause that refreshes

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OK, today I’ve gotta jump in about ellipses and m-dashes (and while we’re at it, how about parentheses?) . . . [or brackets?] . . .

I’m frankly getting a bit tired of reading things online, no matter what the topic, and finding a virtual forest of “m-dashes” in every paragraph. That’s what they call the double-length “bar” (looks like a hyphen with a thyroid problem) so many people seem to think goes… well, pretty much anywhere you want it to in a paragraph.

I know that the “style guides” today are claiming there’s only that one way to punctuate this, whether it’s   a digression, a pause, an interruption in a dialogue — or anything else that breaks the flow! Most seem to claim this can only be a “—” (that m-dash thing). As for me, I think each form of visual punctuation (since none of this affects the grammar all that much) has its place:

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