Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Compulsive Editing

My husband calls me Grammar Girl, a nickname that I relish, imagining that it sounds like that of a superhero. He usually says it when I am being neurotic about someone’s mistake.
Once we were hearing a lecture on how the internet is helping an organization reach a global audience. The animated speaker fired out this announcement, "we’ve developed a world class website to reach scores of people with our message!" Scores? Scores? That many, huh? I snickered a little louder than I expected and embarrassed my husband. I thought it was common knowledge that a score is twenty. (You may have learned The Gettysburg Address in 5th grade: "Four score and seven years ago our forefathers…." Four score and seven years is 87 years.) A company doesn’t pour time and money into a website to reach dozens of people, it’s goal is to reach millions. Why would you stand up in front of an enormous crowd and use words you don’t know how to define? I thought it was ludicrous and had a very difficult time taking the speaker seriously from that point onward.

Some friends were visiting us from Mexico and the man showed me the software with which he creates his web pages. The software and the site itself were fascinating. While browsing through it, I found many little errors in grammar and spelling here and there. So, I asked if he might allow me to edit it. He speaks English very well, but Spanish is his native tongue. With his permission, I started correcting under his watchful eye. About half way through, I realized that he was positively mortified, so I apologized. He insisted, "No, no continue. If it is wrong, please correct it." I assured him that I was only making cosmetic changes, and that the content was still intact. I was afraid that I had overstepped my grounds, but I might as well finish. Finally, he divulged the reason he was so upset. He had paid an American college graduate to edit everything for him and was upset that they had obviously done a poor job. I told him that I would take my good high school education over college any day!

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