Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Work Work Work: The Grind of Heavy Editing

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Like the Orcish peons of Warcraft II, after effectively deciding that the collegiate (or at least the standard collegiate) life wasn’t for me, I knew that I would have to find myself a full-time job. The very first thing I did, aside from freelancing as a magazine writer, was work for this rockstar SEO dude from Manila who pretty much got me into the whole biz of article marketing and copywriting.

Four years later, and I’m pretty much still in the same path, albeit with a few skills and a lot of experience under my ever-widening belt.

Note: A warning for those with no interest in writing. The next few paragraphs will be heavily devoted to the art and craft of the written—emphasis on written—word. Read on at your own peril after the jump.

But this post isn’t about work itself. It’s about the type of work I’m currently doing for one of my clients, and that’s proofreading. Back when I was an editor for SMSI, I just made sure that the articles were made of pure win and awesome, but I never bothered to check for the textual nuances of each selection I plowed through. Come 2009, I find myself working as a proofreader part-time, toting the rather brutish Chicago Manual of Style for reference all throughout the hours I spend working for that particular client.

The funny thing about proofing copious amounts of text is finding out that various aspects of the written English language that you thought was just typographical whimsy was actually official script. I speak of the wonders that are the em-dash and the en-dash. These babies have there use in written communication, and while most people may find it a bit unnerving to know this, this rather bizarre eccentricity of the written language has admittedly piqued my interest.

Not because of its implications on the readability of a text for those fully in the know, of course. I would hardly use that as a reason to intrigue me, since I believe that the written word, as an art form, is a language consistently in flux—get the message across, and we’ll be friends. Get the message across AND give the reader a hard-on / wetlip, and I don’t even know what I’ll do to you.

Rather, I find this interesting because as of this year, the word googled is now an official verb—with the small letter “g” intact. Yep, Google as a proper noun refers to the company, while google with the small initial letter is a verb (this discovery is credited to Rocky Teodoro of the Haneps). Upon discovering this fact, the beauty of the em-dash and the shortcut key for the letter “ñ” (that’s ctrl + ~ + n) vanished from my mind. Not completely, as you can probably see from this paragraph, but enough to make it a marked transition.

In closing, I’d like to propose this theory: in the next 2–3 years, we will see a marked shift in typography and vocabulary. We started out with the slow and ambivalent acceptance of foul language into the list of grammatically correct terms. Then there was the resurgence of using dashes and textual demarcations correctly. And now we have google. If the trend continues, then I guess we can properly surmise that sooner or later, the smiley icons, :-) and :-( being the most recognizable, will become common slang text. Expect novels where non-dialogue conversations will flow in this manner:

“:-(,” said **** as he shut off his mobile phone to ward off unwelcome SMS messages.

as opposed to this:

**** frowned as he shut off his mobile phone to ward off unwelcome SMS messages.

Sounds far-fetched? So did google becoming a verb. The written language is evolving so fast that sooner or later, English will have no choice but to give way to established languages like Spanish or French, or simplified tongues like Esperanto, because it became too damn complicated to learn.

Oh, and if that does happen anytime soon, don’t forget. You heard it here first.


  1. Yo Martin. Found this while link hopping. What's up?


  2. hey marc, nothing much. work, as always. how's it going?