Friday, November 7, 2008

Moments in Copy Editing

Came across this sentence today:
"Hanukkah, celebrated for eight nights, has traditionally meant one gift per night per child. You needn’t do the math to figure out the number of gifts and cost when a Jewish grandparent has more than one grandchild."

Good thing I wasn’t in my post-lunch sleepy head at the time. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have noticed that I should change it to …

“You needn’t do the math to see how quickly the costs can add up for a Jewish grandparent with more than one grandchild.”
The more I look at the original sentence, the more I’m awed by how easily that delicious irony slipped in. “You needn’t do the math” to “figure out the number.” Um, yeah. That’s what math is.

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nixtress said...

It's too bad you're not allowed to edit content as well! No one says the gifts have to be expensive. As a child, many of my nightly gifts were small pieces of candy or things you could get at the dollar store!

June Casagrande said...

Happily, that's exactly what the writer was building up to. That could be one silver lining to a crazy-bad economy: An end to (or lull in) lifelong crapfests.

Girl with the Interesting Hair said...

i'd take issue with the entire premise that children have "traditionally" received a gift for every night of the holiday. Frankly, I'd say that practice has only become the norm in the last couple of generations. How far back do you have to go to call something a tradition? Or did my brother and I get robbed of our rightful bounty?

June Casagrande said...

Sorry it took so long to get your comment up! I was out of town and way out of it.

In feature writing, "traditionally" is one of those handy words that you can tailor to your meaning. It often includes a meaning of either "I don't know the details" or "I don't want to get into the details." Either way, pretty conveeeenient.


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