Corrrect !

It was a fast week. I transcribed letters a man wrote to his son in English war captivity 1946 and 1947. The son worked on a kind of farm and seemingly had a good relationship with his hosts. I even found postcards in the convolut they wrote to him while vacationing in Switzerland, he took care of the house and the animals. They mentioned that a lot of things were available in the shops without coupons, Lebensmittelmarken; the rationing in Britain was still intact for some years after the end of the war.
Another job is still going on, kind of proof-reading. A final paper (Abschlussarbeit) in the process of, well finishing. The job of correcting changed – any decent word processor today has a module for orthography built in, so the “classical” job of a corrector is done by a machine and that is a very good thing. Especially for me, because I myself have some problems with German orthography.
I am part of a team and we complement each other. I normally do the first read and look for consistency of the content: What is the thought? Is it clearly expressed? How is the trail of thoughts, the argumentation – does it come in the right order, is the bauplan correct? Are the definitions there? And I eliminate the worst complicated constructions.
Most people who have to write the first major  work (for most of them it is the very first) tend to get a bit frightened, they want to do it so right and flee into overcomplicated formulations. Normally a bit of discussion is needed to clear some rather cloudy parts, untie knots in the thinking and then the first round of corrections is worked in. Maybe I have another look, that depends.
After that my colleague goes over the text in a second and far more detailed step, with a small-tooth-comb; a hard work, especially when one has to get used to the customers style of writing. I should have moved the major boulders out of the way, but a lot of gravel still lies around. We use our variation of the official proofreading marks that evolved or developed over time. And while these things are discussed and shown and explained to the person who has to sit and work through the file I can discuss the final chapter with the author, summary and opinion piece.
We use printouts. Proofreading on a screen alone is murderous and we do this only when we can (or better: have to) change things directly (NO pdf-comments!); normally that means the deadline is very near. But in the actual case it is all very relaxed. There will even be the possibility to have a look over it before copying and binding, bloody luxury. They have taken account of enough time, they use a sophisticated type setting programme we could not have on our computers, but the results are satisfying. It is a good working relation. Of course we spent more time with it, but we want it to be a good text, and we encourage the author to have it printed later, because it is a very actual topic and she really has got her head around it.


11 thoughts on “Corrrect !

  1. Sounds like very good work, Mago. Years ago, I worked in the printing business (just a small private shop) where I did typesetting, layout and proofreading. (All before computers came into the picture.) When you do both the typesetting and proofreading yourself, you have to learn to read the text all over again like you never knew what it said. Not an easy skill to develop, but something I can still do to this day! 😉

  2. Exactly, dear Boxer.

    Yes, now and then I can do that too, Ponita. Lack of distance to the own text is a real problem. There’s a point when one questions any single word. Before computing the corrector had a different job – what a drama when errors were found and a whole page had to be rewritten – hammered in the typewriter with three carbon copies that was. Or the Umbruch, the make-up, had to be changed … Today many of these technical things can be done by computers, are done by processors: But one must look at it. And a computer alone makes no good page.

  3. I always enjoy these behind-the-scenes peeks! I worked in technical publications for 20 years. Lots of writing, editing, proofing, pre-press, production. So it is interesting to hear your take on things.

  4. It’s such a pleasure reading about the work you do, the translating, the researching. You sound so much more content. You see, I still remember the job you had a few years ago. I’m still so pleased that you followed your bliss.

  5. So you know the job well, XL. We have to limit the effort, simply because it is a matter of time and money. Best are people who phone in on a Thursday and tell that they have deadline on Fryday, “just a quick read”, yes … In the actual case things are really relaxed.

    Aw, Ms Scarlet, The- Missing-Banana-Mystery, I hope it was solved to everybody’s satisfaction!

    Beschrei’s nicht, Roses, security still looms and lurks somewhere in the dark …

  6. “Yes, we have no bananas” said shopkeepers around Britain when ration books came into use. Sausages, sugar even powdered eggs were rationed. But good old British spunk was as abundant as ever to keep Britain smiling through.

  7. Thank you Austere.

    We try to serve the text, Amanda.

    The cards I mentioned were written 1948 I think – should have to look it up. I wonder that the rationing had still to be used, Mitzi. In Germany, yes, most of the production facilities was bombed or became demontaged, food production had to be managed. But in Britain the situation should have become better fast, at least I thought so.

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