First impressions

Today’s Galway Independent has a short article publicising a local copywriting company. Under the title “Copywriting a must for business”, the article begins as follows:

First impression in business are very important

It certainly are [sic]. The piece has additional typos, in both the online and print editions of the newspaper, but I see no reason to labour the matter. I would just like to point out that if words are your business, copy-editing is important too.

15 Responses to First impressions

  1. I must point out my typo of the week, from the print edition of The Munster Express last week, brought to my attention by a friend of mine in Waterford: ‘Cold weather causes cahos’, the headline (!) for the editorial. Guffaw!

  2. Sean Jeating says:

    Shouting star: “Two months ago I did not know how to spell shornalist, and today I am one.”

  3. Claudia says:

    This one jumped at me. I must admit I don’t always see them. When I have a doubt, I usually think, “It must be right. I must be wrong. What do I know?”

    When it’s in French, oh la la, I’m all there. In my youth, it would take me just a few minutes to fire a sarcastic letter to the Editor. It was seldom printed. Very few people will willingly laugh at themselves in public.

    Let me say, though, that’s it’s not easy to copy-edit a newspaper. At Nursing School, I was the (founding)editor of our small French newspaper, (Notre Aventure It was a horrendous job to review the work of our inexperienced volunteer typist. When I looked again at some copies, years later, I was filled with shame for what I had missed. “Et tu, Brutus!” I think when I correct others.

  4. Claudia says:

    Correcting myself here: (Notre Aventure).

  5. Stan says:

    Doubtful: This winter, conditions around the country were truly cahotic at times.

    Sean: For a moment there I thought you were putting on an accent.

    Claudia: More people should laugh at themselves, more often, in public and in private. May the great joke never fall flat! Regarding the typo, I don’t mean to seem indignant or intolerant. Copy-editing is challenging work and often performed under considerable pressure, or with limited resources. The irony supplied by the context, and introduced by the post title, is what persuaded me to mention the mistake.

    Notre Aventure sounds like an interesting publication! I hope it brought fun and satisfaction to make up for the editorial aggravation.

  6. Claudia says:

    Yes! I see what you mean. I wonder if the company is getting clients.

    Notre Aventure was my second attempt as an editor. It was fun to prove that a nurse could quote Péguy, and also empty a bedpan. Friends and family always thought I would become a shornalist one day. I tried once more, in my 40s. I discovered that, unless you own the publication, you can’t always write what you believe. I resigned. Now I write in blogs. Not only in friendly ones! Sometimes, I expect my comments will be refused. So far, so good…

  7. Tim says:

    Very true. As an English Literature major — or perhaps just because I am a bit of a word fanatic — I tend to notice editing errors. And as you said Stan, when words are your thing, you should be extra careful to ensure that typing errors are picked up and dealt with before something goes to print!

    Long live copy editing and sensible, intelligent, accurate communication.

    As a related matter (at least, in my mind), isn’t it cool how we can sltil raed wrods as tehy are mneat to be raed, eevn wehn the intenral letetrs are mxied up! ;)

  8. Claudia says:

    This was fun, Tim. I never saw that before. I’m going to try doing it.

  9. Perhaps the a rival paper lured the Independent’s copy editors away and can say “All your copy editor are belong to us”

  10. Stan says:

    Claudia: Somehow I am not surprised to learn that you left a writing job out of principle! And it’s a principle I agree with: a writer must answer to her conscience. It’s hard to imagine your comments being refused anywhere.

    Tim: Well said. Typos are inevitable (or at least understandable) in any word-based medium, but standards should be kept as high as possible. Recently I read a short paperback novel with a typo count in double figures, and this from a reputable publisher. But I’m not in a position to judge whether this, or the example above, arose more from carelessness or unavoidable constraints.

    The word scramble is a nifty trick. As an internet meme its original guise seems to be the text beginning: “Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy…”, which still appears in my email inbox now and then. Matt Davis has assessed its claims, and there is an interesting discussion about it at Language Hat, including examples in other languages.

    Jams: You could be on to something there. I may have to go undercover to storm their base!

    Yesterday, Regret the Error alerted me to a typo in Trinity News that really should have been spotted, though for amusement’s sake I’m glad it wasn’t…

  11. Another “gem”: Today I spotted a mistake in a Spanish-language newspaper that wasn’t entirely a typo, but more of a grammar/concept thing. Ergo, the “shornalist’s” fault (correctors/proofers must have been taking a nap…). Talking about (what else, these days?) Haiti, and an Argentinean prospective mother, residing in South Korea for work reasons, who is appealing to Arg authorities to speed up adoption papers for her 3-yr old baby, which should have gone through in December, as conditions at the orphanage are steadily worsening by the minute. This mother, according to the paper, had been helping out the orphanage in Haiti and went back to South Korea the day before the “catastrophe succumbed the island” (sic). I rushed them off a note (which they invite by a link: Did you find an error?) schoolmarming them about the use of “succumb” – but don’t expect any reaction from them…..

  12. wisewebwoman says:

    For some ungodly reason, this post reminds me of LOLCATS.

    I can has business impression?

  13. Stan says:

    Nélida: That seems a strange error. Still, it’s good of the newspaper to invite constructive criticism, and maybe your note will have the desired effect (except when the proofreader is taking a siesta again). Welcome to Sentence first, by the way. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen schoolmarm verbed before!

    wisewebwoman: Oh hai im in ur spellchekur, warpin ur wurds! I didn’t pick up on the connection when I read it and wrote about it, but now that you mention it, there isn’t a million miles between “[singular noun] are” and “I can has”.

  14. Pat Morrissey says:

    My pet aversion, a grammar error rather than spelling, is the opening line on a very large percentage of direct mailings: “As a valued customer of xxxxx, we are . . .”. Surely it should be “As you are a valued customer of xxxxx, we are . . .” or “As a valued customer of xxxxx, you are . . .”.
    The composition of the letter is part of what advertisers refer to as the creative process. I can only assume that their creativity gets little scope when it comes to finding new opening lines.

  15. Stan says:

    Pat: In formal prose I tend to fix such dangling modifiers, and would always do so where there is a genuine likelihood of misinterpretation, or where an absurdity is irresistibly brought to mind. Still, it’s worth considering Geoffrey Pullum’s argument that they constitute “minor offenses against communicational etiquette, but not against grammar”.

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