I shall tactfully refrain from naming the author or title of the book (published by a highly reputed university press) in which I found the following sentence:

“One might argue that romances, like novellas, were the kind of prose fiction that was closest in interest and narrative type to romances.”

One might argue that; but why would one bother? It’s tautological.

Maybe one or more adjectives is missing, or something else went wrong in the editing process. In the context of the paragraph, it seems like a different kind of statement is needed at this point. I can imagine highlighting and moving the wrong chunk of text.

Note to self as well as others: this is why actual proof-reading by human eyes (and, preferably, voice) is necessary. Do not rely on electronic checkers of spelling and grammar.


5 thoughts on “As you might expect

  1. It’s always sad to see this kind of thing from a reputable publisher. I worked for many years as a freelance copyeditor for university presses. Back then (not sure how things are now) each book MS was assigned to a freelance copyeditor after being accepted for publication. The managing editor might also have a hand in the marking up, etc., but in general the copyeditor passed all corrections and queries to the author, who reviewed all changes. The copyeditor and author then worked together to resolve any outstanding issues.

    The proofreading, however (at the end of the process, once the book has been typeset and laid out), was and is almost always the author’s responsibility.

    It’s impossible for the reader to know, of course, where such an error originated or at what point it was overlooked, but the proofreading stage is the last chance to correct such things (so authors, if you’re given page proofs to “okay,” read them carefully–or hire a proofreader!).

    Whatever went wrong in the above example, it SHOULD have been flagged by the copyeditor, corrected by the author, and correctly changed by the compositor (ah! yet another cup/lip juncture where slips can and do occur). And here’s yet another factor: university presses pay their freelance copyeditors $15-$25/hr, a standard pay range that hasn’t changed for decades. (And that’s why, even though book editing remains close to my heart, I no longer work for university presses!)

      1. No anthropologists in my world, though. Mostly historians, literary critics, et al. (Actually, now that I think of it, I did once edit an issue of an anthropology journal… Ha!)

  2. Ah, the “Perd Hapley” style of tautology. (from Parks and Rec).

    This is my nightmare. In the copyedits for the book, the copyeditor found one (wrong name) and I found another one, which he probably couldn’t have caught because the work was too obscure. And, Pym Fan, I’m very grateful to him and carefully read the ms. and edits twice.

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