The lot of a copy editor (sometimes also called a sub-editor
, depending on which continent you're speaking from) is not a happy one. It is a requirement of the job that one be unnaturally sensitive
of spelling, grammar, style and punctuation that hardly anyone else notices or cares about (a friend once called us all "ant
-fuckers", which about sums it up).
This can doom hapless subs to a lifetime of subtle but unending agony. Misplaced apostrophes cause our nerves to shriek in much the same way they do when someone drags a fingernail down a blackboard; people who can't tell the difference between effect and affect make us cringe; deliberate cutesy spelling mistakes lead us to contemplate murder. (As a child I lived for a while in a town which boasted a small office building named "Rokafela Centre". The experience has scarred me for life.)
Of all the tortures this world can inflict upon a pedant, though, none is worse than torture by bureaucrats. Just one example from a government document, found today, will suffice:
"The Information Society has changed our ways of communicating with each other, our ways of receiving and sending information and new ways of working. It offers us new potential for development and progress. In the process, it has thrown up new and demanding challenges. Exciting challenges. Sometimes alarming challenges. Challenges that demand that we seriously re-think the economic paradigm shift to post industrialism and how we view our place in it (my emphasis)."
There is a special corner of hell
set aside for people who write like this, where they will be beaten about the head with red pencils while they transcribe style manuals in their own blood, for ever
It is an unalterable law of nature that there will be at least one egregious grammatical or spelling error in this writeup, despite my best efforts. Please be gentle.