Is it just me? Lately many of the things I read contain glaring errors. It first hit me while reading Tim Tyler's Memetics.

"If memetics explains only explains the imitation of observed behavior, ..." (p 96)

"Perhaps biological an cultural differ..." (p 173)

"Genetic engineers can now take information form wherever they like..."

"However, not everyone seems agree that ..." (both on p 184)

"The upright gait hypothesis hypothesis is interesting for several reasons." (p 206)

I thought, "Didn't the editor even read this? Who was this?" But, lo, no editor was credited. There was no editor! Is this a new cost-cutting trend in publishing?

But the news lately has been just as bad.

It is original from the Andean area of South Africa and widely grown in both the north of Chile and Argentina and the south Mexico, especially Ecuador.

A Promising Fruit: The Tree Tomato

That sample was from today's Science Daily. Yesterday I noticed four or five glaring errors. This is disorienting, even a little scary. Has literacy decline has crossed a tipping point?

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Is the problem literacy or the proofreading skills of the editors who (I sincerely hope!) are reviewing these pieces before they are published?

Certainly, spell-check and grammatical scanners (such as in Microsoft Word) are useful tools which I avail myself of regularly.  Still, having written technical documents and manuals as a part of several positions I've held, I was responsible for conveying important information accurately from both a technical and grammatical standpoint.  Those documents not only needed to be technically accurate; they had (in my mind) to look PROFESSIONAL.  This was a matter of pride - that an engineer who never studied technical writing formally was able to compose such documentation from having read so much of it.

And maybe that's what it takes: an awareness that, in doing such writing, the author is not only conveying information but his or her own competence at their given language

You're right, Loren, we expect many documents to be professional: not only accurate in content, but with no distractions of language mistakes or inappropriate casualness or personal points of view. Just as with sound engineering (for instance), the writing becomes practically invisible when it's done right.

Speaking of which, I actually appreciate the bits of humor Mackie sprinkles sparingly into their mixer manuals. It's on target, and doesn't detract from the technical content. As a musician, I find it acceptable where it wouldn't be in, say, a scientific paper or a legal document.

80 Hz ... This frequency represents the punch in bass drums, bass guitar, fat synth patches, and some really serious male singers who eat raw beef for breakfast.

On musicians' tendency to want "more me":

This is usually the knob you turn up when the lead singer glares at you, points at his stage monitor, and sticks his thumb up in the air. (It would follow that if the singer stuck his thumb down, you’d turn the knob down, but that never happens.)

Inadequate education is still goin' round. I saw this in HS. And my university professors ('50s) were notably bad writers. Emphasis on communication has to start in the cradle. For real bad writing, see any newspaper.

While full-fledged editors help ensure that the work as a whole presents its ideas well, even a copy editor would have caught the egregious errors within single sentences! And many of the errors you quoted were simple matters of proofreading. (...sigh...)

It is original from the Andean area of South Africa ....

That inspired a mental image of a very warped earth!

ROFL Fantastic illustration! Thanks

I've also noticed it lately.  Of course, I hesitate to get too critical because I don't check my writing like I should, and often embarrass myself.

That being said, when I write large pieces, intended to be read by quite a few people, I proofread them 4 or 5 times over the course of days before I post them.  Even so, I should find at least one other person to proofread them.

Spud, I know what you mean! I always find errors after a piece has been made public for a while. The clue then for me, is to wait, and reread hours or days later. I still have problems with verbs and often pick the wrong preposition. I grew up in an erra of multiple choice. Very few of my classes required composition. When I wrote at the masters and doctoral level, I wrote so badly, even I can't stand to read my old carbon copies. 

I think they've probably fired all the proofreaders, for economical reasons. In the best of circumstances, there would be 2 proofreaders working on every article, because one person will still miss stuff (I've worked as a proofreader). And it's not the editor's job to proofread, so they don't. But the editors aren't doing so well, either -- the use of English is pretty rotten in a lot of books and articles, too. I just finished reading 1491, which is about pre-Columbian life in the Americas, and his English is poor, to say the least, and the book WAS edited. *I* could do a better job than that! I've now edited and proofread 2 pamphlets as a teamwork job, and they came out marvelous. I AM good at it, if I can toot my own horn! :-)

One gets the impression that people are so lazy, depending on automated spell checking and grammar checking, that it's imagined human proofreaders aren't needed. They are!

Spelling checkers will catch some typos, but certain things will sail right through them! I've never found the grammar checking in Microsoft Word to be of any use, often flagging sentences that are perfectly correct and clear.

We had some good discussion about lazy and misused language last year in "Web slang", which among other things mentions the homophone-filled "Ode to the Spelling Checker" and an incident involving an actual "singing of the contract". (According to Google, some ten million instances of that typo are around on the web!)

On here, I'm glad for the opportunity to edit replies for a few minutes after submitting them. I do catch many misteaks that way!

(And for proofreaders, I use logical quoting by choice: periods and commas go inside quotation marks only when they're part of the quoted text.)

I like that kind of punctuation in quotes, too -- it just plain makes more sense. And it's what they teach in G. Britain. I also like the Oxford comma, which goes before the last word before "and" in a series. It's not ALWAYS necessary for clarity, but sometimes, it really is. And it's another British writing custom. About British spelling, I don't particularly care, as long as the word is clearly comprehensible -- I remember gaol, which is really unreadable. I'd rather go to jail. LOL!!

I can remember in elementary school, the principal came into the classroom during a writing assignment. He and the teacher debated whether the comma should be used in a series and before the last word "and". I still don't know the correct answer. So, air, fire, water, and soil is correct?



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