Today’s editing rant about the English language

All I can say is thank the gods, God, or whatever you believe in, for editors. I’ve been going over the copy edits and they’ve saved me from countless embarrassments. It’s Daniel Steel and not Steele. Yes, there is a difference between bawling and balling (that could have been really embarrassing). So some of this is basic fact checking (bad lazy writer), some of this is just not being familiar with the variations in words. But there are some things that I’m convinced are in their brains just because the do this day in and day out.

Let’s take the following as an example.

Pax led the way across the open plaza on which huge burnished metal shapes were imbedded. 

Imbedded is a fine word, meaning “Fix or set securely or deeply.” But in going over the copy edits one astute editor changed it to embedded which has two meanings:

  1. Enclosed firmly in a surrounding mass
  2. Inserted as an integral part of a surrounding whole

Yep, a better choice.  Now I don’t think I would have been embarrassed if I hadn’t discovered there were two such closely related words, and I’m glad at the improvement, but dang.  Did the English language really need both of these?  Which came first, and why the slight differences?  

It’s things like this that make me realize I’ll never master all the little nuances of this language. I know there are some that are supposedly more difficult to read or write…but I have more than enough trouble just dealing with stuff like this.


3 thoughts on “Today’s editing rant about the English language

  1. I hear you, Michael. I’m beginning to believe that at some point, the ‘inventor’ of the English language created so many nuances in order to employ editors.

    Oh, and I couldn’t resist: It’s DANIELLE Steel. 🙂

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