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Posted in April 2017

Specialist proofreading: fiction vs. business vs. academic Posted on 10 April 2017 by James Cowan in English language; Proofreading

You might think proofreading is proofreading is proofreading. But actually it isn't. Yes, proofreading anything in English has points in common with all other English proofreading, but each subgroup of manuscripts has its own idiosyncrasies. Let's start with what they all share. In earlier blogs I have talked of the way the English language works, and how it is changing. Anything written in English is subject to these influences, and to that extent the proofreader's task is similar ... Read more

English is still changing Posted on 20 April 2017 by James Cowan in English is changing

A common source of confusion – and it appears in the newspapers so often it is clear that the confusion is rife among many who are being paid to know better – is with words like "seaside", "portside" and "backseat". The "seaside" is a place; the "sea side" is a description of an area (as opposed to the "city side", for example of a road). Similarly, the "port side" of a boat is the left side of the boat as you face ... Read more

Troublesome Words 5 Posted on 30 April 2017 by James Cowan in Troublesome words

I am forever being amused (almost to tears) by the confusion between "amount" and "number". It's quite simple: you have amounts of things that can be divided – petrol, sugar. You have numbers of things that can't – such as people. You can have a litre of petrol, and half a litre of petrol. You can have a person, but really half a person is actually not much of anything. Some meat, and body parts, but it probably doesn't move or talk ... Read more

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