Monday, 18 December 2017

More thoughts on Rewriting and Substantive Editing

Victoria Selwyn, a freelance French−English Translator, shares her experience

selwyn logoAs a freelance translator, I am sometimes asked to edit, or rewrite material written in English by non-native speakers. On my own account, I've recently edited my grandmother's memoirs from multiple versions and am now embarking on a writing project. So, I had a long shopping list of expectations, from checking whether I was doing the right sort of thing in my professional practice to gaining insights into voice and style.

Even with a discount, the course was an investment, but on the basis of previous PTC courses, I was sure it would be worth it - and I wasn't disappointed!

"Rewriting and Substantive Editing" didn't cover exactly the ground I'd anticipated. It dealt only briefly with editing non-native authors, and not at all with literary texts. But it was an eye-opener on many fronts.

I now have a much clearer idea of the distinction between copy-editing and rewriting and of when the latter might be needed - often for audience-related reasons. I learned that rewriting can include cutting large chunks of text and reordering sentences and paragraphs - something I do as a translator but hadn't been doing in rewrites.

The course also explored current preoccupations with level (of readability). This seems to me a muddle-headed notion that mixes concepts from education with issues of register and could stifle linguistic curiosity, but it's as well to know it's being taken seriously in some quarters!

Finally, practical exercises and a show of hands to see how many of us would have corrected a dangling participle demonstrated how subjective correctness can be and reminded us that language is changing all the time.

The group had widely differing requirements, but the tutor managed us skilfully and kept time perfectly so that we came away with insights into all the topics.

Victoria Selwyn was part of the course that ran on November 30, 2017. Rewriting & Substantive Editing is scheduled to run three times in 2018.

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