Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gallagher on Words

Bossquez posted this link in a comment, but it deserves more attention that it can get there.

It's Gallagher talking about some language and logic issues. Made me laugh.

(Thanks, Bossquez!)


Anonymous said...

I had intended to share your blog with my facebook friends but now it'll just look like I'm bragging. Way to "share" your way out of a 2-4 hits.

June Casagrande said...

: )

Adrian Morgan said...

Silly man doesn't know that "poem" has two syllables. :-)

June Casagrande said...

Hey, wouldn't that be "pouem" to you?

: )

Adrian Morgan said...

Incidentally, I was given a new kind of challenge last week at work. Had to put words in someone's mouth.

Well, I was given a draft editorial column pertaining to certain political matters, plus an email about pertinent events that had occured since the draft was written, and asked to edit the column to say what it probably would have said had it been written with knowledge of said pertinent events (basically that a candidate they didn't think would get elected got elected). Obviously I was expected to do this without inserting any hint of my own opinions.

I won't find out until after Easter (at the earliest) whether the column writer endorses my rewrite, but I did my best.

June Casagrande said...

Who. That's really challenging.

In the news biz, you sometimes have to do that with stories that didn't run the day before. Or, more often, something was expected to happen at 1 a.m. but your deadline was 10 p.m., so you had to write some BS-y stuff like: "As the vote counting continued into the night hours, it was still too close to call ...

But I never had to do anything like that an opinion piece -- that's really tricky. Let me know how the writer liked it. (I have a feeling you done good.)

Adrian Morgan said...

Just to fill in some more detail, the column was for a disability advocacy magazine, referring to the recent state election we've had here, how disabled people don't get enough consideration from politicians, the fact that the "Dignity for Disability" party had candidates running for the state equivalent of the Senate, and how terrible it is that people feel the need to form such a party in the first place.

As the email pointed out, the party did get a candidate in after all, and it described this as "great news". It also pointed out that Parliament doesn't yet have sufficient disability access to enable the candidate to actually take part in proceedings, and followed this with the question: "Can you believe this?".

So I had to figure out whether the whole column would have been a whole lot more optimistic and upbeat given that a candidate got in, or whether the writer would have remained just as pessimistic, while grudgingly admitting, as an aside, that something slightly good had happened.

In my solution I started with most of the intro from the original (changing "some things have not changed" into "some things have yet to change" to make it a tad more upbeat) and then in paragraph two wrote, "In light of all this, the election of blah blah is great news", followed by a summary of the email. I used the word "incredibly" to capture the spirit of the question "Can you believe this?". The concluding paragraph didn't require much change, although having inserted new material I did have to decide how to link it all together.

June Casagrande said...

Interesting. You basically had to assess how happy the writer would be about the election results and how much optimism would result.

I'll definitely be interested to hear what the writer says.

Sounds like you walked the line pretty well.

Adrian Morgan said...

Yeah. For example, the original started off something like (as best as I can remember it), "Lots of things have changed as a result of the election, but some things have not changed, especially for people with disabilities".

The first half of that sentence is dubious at best, but hey, it's not my opinion piece. The second - and more pertinent - half strikes me as an odd thing to say about an election where a party running on a disability advocacy platform succeeds in getting a member elected. So I think you can see why I made the change that I've described.

With luck, I'll find out tomorrow whether my version was accepted. What I'm certain of is that my anxiety is basically a good thing, because someone who didn't care very much about trying to get it right would not be responsible enough for the job.

June Casagrande said...

You make a very interesting point about editing anxiety. I've gotten jaded by working with novice writers who put into articles stuff like "Recovery time varies but is approximately about one week." A couple years of that and I shred without pity and hack without looking back.

Maybe I should try to be more sensitive. (It's harder in the copy editor job because you never interact directly with the writer. You work through the section editor.)

Adrian Morgan said...

Firstly, one of my earlier comments and your reply to it seems to have vanished off the face of the earth! Where's it gone?

I'm at work right now, and feeling really annoyed because my edit didn't get used at all, so I might as well not have bothered. It's not that it was rejected as such - it seems that the file I sent was somehow lost in the system! And my production supervisor is away today so I can't even ask how that happened. Grrrr!

Result: the editorial that got published is simply the original followed by the email supplement. Which is really stupid because right in the middle we see stuff like this: "Since I emailed you my [article] I've noticed [new stuff]". That should never have been printed, and if they hadn't lost my edit it wouldn't have been. Double grrrr!

I can send you complete copies of everything after I get home, but that won't be for publication here.

June Casagrande said...

Oh, that is SO annoying. Not just for you but for the reader. In news, there's this ever-present sense that you're obligated to do everything you can to make information meaning to the reader. The whole approach of "we had deadline problems, so patch this together yourself" is kind of uncool. (Which is part of the reason print news editors are so resistant to inserting brackets into quotations. It's considered a last resort.)

On the other hand, writing and editing stuff that never makes it to print is par for the course.

Re your last post: I don't know what happened to it. I see it.

Re which e-mail address to use: The non-AOL one that starts with June is best. I'll let you know when I get it. (As you can see, I'm late doing everything lately -- a lot more freelance work than usual -- but I will let you know when I see it. I have a feeling I'll be impressed with how you handled it.)

nouhad said...

Haha great post! I stumbled across your blog from another Linguists blog and I'm glad I did.


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