METM22 Chronicles: Linda Jayne Turner

Spit and polish: interactive editing

Linda Jayne Turner delivered a wonderfully interactive presentation on the Saturday morning of METM22. “Spit and polish: interactive editing” was exactly what its title professed it to be. Based in Prague, Linda has extensive experience as an academic editor.

She opened her presentation by explaining that the goal of her work is often to shorten texts to adhere to word limits and improve readability. After a brief introduction of the texts the groups would be editing, she split the room into several small groups and distributed extracts of various texts in English, for example the Czech sci-fi novel The House of a Thousand Floors by Jan Weiss. Stimulating discussion abounded in the small groups, as participants hailed from myriad countries and worked in diverse fields and language pairs. The discussion expanded further as the groups later shared their suggested edits with Linda and the rest of the room.

Spit and polish

The most interesting points to arise were the issues of language interference, differences in varieties of English, and common practices in North America versus the UK despite style guide prescriptions. For instance, it seems that in some cases capitalisation rules are defined more by text genre than by anything else: the word “earth” is capitalised in the USA whenever it refers to the planet and means “soil” when left uncapitalised. Apparently, in the UK the word is frequently left uncapitalised, though one participant shared that in scientific texts the planets must always be capitalised no matter what type of English is being used.

Another highly appreciated aspect of the presentation was the valuable input given by non-native speakers of English. Their vibrant contributions and ideas included insights into the experiences of people dealing with texts that have been translated from a foreign language into yet another foreign language and the resultant confusion or clarity.

This METM22 talk was chronicled by Courtney Greenlaw.

Photos by METM22 photographer Jone Karres.

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