The Compulsive Copyeditor

November 8, 2019

Turning Typos into Lemonade

Filed under: language degenerating,spelling,Typos — amba12 @ 10:52 am

Historian Claire Berlinski sends out a special edition of her newsletter, detailing her new strategy for repurposing typos:

I just sent out a newsletter riddled with typos again. This time, it wasn’t owing to my neglect . . . I just seem not to have saved my corrections properly. You just received my penultimate draft . . .

Worrying about this will result in my never again sending out the newsletter for fear it hasn’t yet been properly proofread. So here’s my new policy:

This is an artisanal product. The imperfections are part of the charm. This is a deliberate part of my marketing strategy:

Imperfect or “unperfect” products are becoming increasingly appealing to many consumers, who relish the fact that these offbeat products are unique and aren’t typically replicated. In fact, as we have seen from a growing number of company examples we have been tracking through our research, consumers not only love to associate themselves with these products but will also become, in effect, their brand ambassadors.

Also, any typo-ridden newsletter may be exchanged, one day later, for the copy-edited Internet version. Free of charge.

Because the typos actually make me insane.

Mostly, the typos that riddle writing on the internet are just ignored, or not seen at all. Young people who might labor for hours to perfect a visual illustration or animation, or a string of code, regard the written word as only a sort of throwaway paper bag for the juicy burger of content. Older people, on the other hand, were trained in “grammar school” to be hyperaware of such things, to a fault—how many gifted potential writers were silenced for life by mortification over their lack of the spelling gene?

How important is it? Provided they do not change meaning, mere typos are on the level of dandruff: they’re not a matter of life and death, but they can make you look like a slob. Respect for the medium of language, and for oneself as a worker in it, mandates a meticulous but not martinet level of attention to these finishing touches. I think of copyediting as giving a book a manicure before it goes out on a job interview. The impression it makes may be subliminal, but it is powerful.

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