RE: what to look for in a Tech Editor

Subject: RE: what to look for in a Tech Editor
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 14:48:27 -0400

"Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- ca -dot- stilo -dot- com> wrote:

>As a matter of curiosity Dick, do you mean that a good editor should know
>just one of the many different systems of English grammar and impose it on
>all prose as if it had been written by the hand of God? If so, which of the
>many available systems do you prefer and why?

[rest snipped to avoid the wrath of bot]

Heck no, Mark. I'm not a prescriptivist. My views are identical to yours in this regard. The ability to diagram a sentence transcends the differences between styles and systems of diagramming. I don't care if someone learned it from Warriner's Handbook of English or by studying at the feet of Steven Pinker. What I wish for, though (remember, this was a wish list), is that an editor understand what needs to be in agreement with what in order to move an utterance from the class of non-sentences to the class of sentences, under the conventions of standard diction (what we use most of the time in tech writing).

"Sounds okay to me" works only if the speaker's formative linguistic experience is with standard English. That's sufficient for writing, but not for editing work done by people from a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds. Most writers want an explanation, and an editor should be able to articulate one, in some reasonably well understood and reasonable consistent model of grammar.

Latin has nothing to do with it.


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