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25 May 6 for 6:30 pm National Library of Australia

Park Row: back to the heyday of print journalism and editing The May monthly meeting will be something different: the screening of Park Row—courtesy of the Reel McCoy Film Group—harking back to old-fashioned newspaper and editorial values. Park Row tells the story of an idealistic journalist setting out on his own to establish an independent and principled newspaper in late 19th century New York with the support of an equally idealistic printer. A circulation war with established rivals escalates into direct conflict.

From the President

next meeting

Volume 20 19 • Number 3 9


Editors May 2011

April–May report Cathy Nicoll I hope you have all received an email from me explaining why we did not have an April newsletter. This issue and future newsletters should make up for the loss of information within the Society. So, let’s begin with the general meetings. The March general meeting featured Neil James, speaking on the history of Plain English. It was an excellent talk, highlighting some trends in plain English that Neil claimed the editing profession would need to be across in the next few years. This is good advice—most editors would be plain English editors every time they substantively edit a document, even if they don’t apply the label (Just check out our commissioning checklist if you doubt this). And it is always good to keep up with industry trends. Lana Brindley was the speaker at the April general meeting. Lana works with Red Hat, an open source software company, and you can read about her delightful and informative presentation. We also have two new committee members: Megan Cope will be copyediting the newsletters. Kerrie Hayes has volunteered for the position of meetings coordinator, as Bree Winchester has now stepped back. I would like to thank Bree for the contribution she made in the past few years, and also welcome Megan and Kerrie to the committee. At the March meeting, we also had a healthy discussion about the need to increase membership fees. Members were given an overview of roughly how much was in the 1bank, what our expenses are expected to be, and what the operating deficit would be if we kept our membership fees as they are. There was a general consensus that a fee increase of $25 per year for full and associate members would be appropriate. Many members at the meeting said an increase was well overdue, and some pointed out that our fees were among the lowest of any professional association they knew. (Continued on page 11)

(Continued on page 2)

May 2011 The Canberra editor


Vice-president Claudia Marchesi Immediate past president Ted Briggs 6161 4924 0407 018 433 Secretary Eris Harrison

Training news

Your committee

President Cathy Nicoll 6259 2984

Report on training course 19 March, ‘Software editing aids’ and ‘MS Word 2007/10 clinic’ Fifteen editors attended this excellent course conducted by Hilary Cadman. Hilary expanded on the articles she has written for the newsletter to show us a number of online software products— some free and some not-so-free—that can greatly speed up a number of traditional editing tasks. Hilary also gave us a number of tips to start us on a trajectory to becoming an MS Word power-user.

Upcoming course, ‘I got the annual report blues’ Got the annual report blues? Need a helping hand? Come and troubleshoot your problems with Helen Lewis, the author of The Don't Panic Guide to Annual Report Production.

Treasurer Tracy Harwood 0402 627 530 au

This will be a half-day, small-group training course that will concentrate on problems that editors and producers of annual reports might be facing at this late stage in the annual report cycle. We will circulate a questionnaire to participants before the course, to tease out the problems (you might not even know you have a problem!).

Public officer Helen Topor 6131 6550

When booking, please indicate your preference for the morning or afternoon session.

Training coordinator Martin Holmes 0431 268 948 Martin.Holmes-Forte@ Membership secretary Ara Nalbandian ara.nalbandian@


I got the annual report blues


Helen Lewis

Date and time:

Friday 3 June, 8.30–12.00 and 1.00–4.30


University House, Australian National University


Members: $120 Non-members: $250 Includes morning or afternoon tea


Martin Holmes

Web minder Cathy Nicoll

6255 8142

Newsletter Editor: Kerie Newell Copyeditor: Megan Cope Proofreader: Martine Taylor Design: Hilary Cadman

Bookings are finalised by payment of the course fee.

Meeting coordinator Kerrie Hayes

0431 268 948 Payment:

Electronic funds transfer to:

Canberra Society of Editors

Community CPS Australia

BSB 805 022

a/c 0342 3503

Please annotate your deposit with your name and ‘Annual report blues’.

Catering coordinator Vacant IPEd Accreditation Board Delegate: Kirsten McNeill kirsten.mcneill@apricotzebra. Delegate: Ted Briggs Committee members Martin Blaszczyk Gil Garcon Dallas Stow Damaris Wilson

May meeting (continued) The movie puts a unique perspective on some significant historical events, such as the invention of linotype and its role in the newspaper industry. It also celebrates freedom of the press, which was endangered in the McCarthy era and is all but extinct today. However, if you have followed the recent actions of The News of the World, you will understand that freedom of the press was not seen as freedom to trample on individuals’ privacy. The event is free for members of the Canberra Society of Editors. A light supper will be provided afterwards.


The The Canberra Canberraeditor editor May 2011

Conference update

New horizons for editing and publishing conference The Society of Editors (NSW) Inc. will be hosting the 5th National Editors Conference in September 2011 at the Dockside Conference Centre in Sydney. Australia’s biennial national editors conference is held under the aegis of IPEd (The Institute of Professional Editors). The 2011 conference will celebrate the art and profession of editing. We are proud to announce the support of key sponsors—John Wiley and the CAL Cultural Fund. Conference registrations are now open. Use the online registration system on our website: The conference events will take place from 7 to 9 September. A gala dinner, sponsored by John Wiley, will be held at the Star Room, near Dockside Conference Centre, on the evening of Friday 9 September. On Saturday 10 September, Style Council will be holding a special one-day event. Optional excursions and social events will take place between 7 and 11 September. The theme ‘New Horizons for Editing and Publishing’ is a broad, flexible one that encompasses trends, innovations and new markets across all genres of editing, and includes traditional and electronic publishing. Three streams will cover different areas of publishing: trade (fiction and non-fiction); academic, education and technical; government and corporate. See the website for a draft program: Keynote speakers include US oral history editor Linda Shopes, who is supported by the CAL Cultural Fund. Four CAL National Editors Conference bursaries will be available for emerging editors to attend the Sydney conference. Visit the website for updates on the bursary scheme. Don’t miss the special earlybird rate of $320 for members of Australian Societies of Editors! This includes the main conference (2 days) and the cocktail party reception.

IPED notes

Closing date for earlybird payment is 20 June 2011.

IPED notes for April–May 2011 The IPEd Council met twice over this period. Both meetings were by teleconference and summaries of some recent IPEd activities follow. Book Industry Strategy Group Earlier in the year IPEd, on behalf of the profession, made a submission to the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG). Chaired by the Hon. Dr Barry Jones AO, the group has been set up by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Research to examine the potential effects of digital technologies on participants in the traditional supply chain of the Australian publishing industry – authors, publishers, printers and booksellers. In seeking further engagement with the group, and representing a sector that plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the publishing process, IPEd’s submission noted that no matter what degree our clients or employers take up digital production or distribution, there will remain a strong need for trained, professional editors in order to ensure high standards and quality in the final product. May 2011 The Canberra editor


IPED notes for April–May 2011 (continued) It was disappointing, frightening even, that the BISG submission form failed to include editors in its respondent category. As usual, we had to find a destination of convenience, reinforcing that we need to promote, educate and lobby hard if we are to become a discrete and visible group in the publishing chain. Editing research theses After much work by councillors, particularly Anne Surma DE (WA) who headed the project, the guidelines for editing research theses by professional editors have been revised and approved by the Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies group of the Australian universities. The revision is substantial and all editors who work in this field should consult the new guidelines. See the IPEd website under ‘Resources for editors’ or access the site via a link on your society’s website. Barbara Ramsden Award At the National Literary Awards ceremony in Melbourne on 25 March, the 2010 Barbara Ramsden Award for excellence in editing—co-sponsored by IPEd and the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW)—went to the Allen & Unwin submission, Night street, by Kristel Thornell, edited by Clara Finlay. In making the award, IPEd’s judges, Pam Hewitt AE and Craig Munro, who won the award himself in 1985, noted the creative relationship between editor and writer as well as the skilled editorial judgement of the writer. The judges also highly commended another Allen & Unwin entry, Utopian man, by Lisa Lang and edited by Ali Lavau. Liaison with APA IPEd is working to strengthen links with the Australian Publishers Association (APA) for mutual benefit and to raise the profile of editors in the industry. Council Chair Rosemary Luke AE (SA) and Councillor for Victoria Rosemary Noble AE met with Dee Reed, APA Industry Professional Development Manager, during February. APA is interested in working with IPEd to promote each organisation’s training and professional development activities. There was interest, too, in the forthcoming accreditation exam, which Dee has publicised in her regular email bulletin on APA and related activities. Accreditation exam 2011 The number of registrants is building for IPEd’s third accreditation exam to be held on Saturday 21 May. On the website there are now two trial exams by which potential candidates can assess their readiness to go for the desirable ‘AE’ postnominal. The societies are also running training workshops to help candidates prepare for the exam. Check the IPEd website and your society’s website for details of these. Revision of ASEP A small group headed by Ted Briggs (Canberra) is working on revision of the Australian Standards for Editing Practice. Changes required as a result of comments on a first draft revision circulated last year are being used in a second draft, which will be sent to IPEd Distinguished Editors (DEs) for appraisal before general distribution. Article on style sheets ‘Editing with style’ is an interesting and informative article by Kathie Stove DE on the IPEd website and a ‘must read’ for all editors. Resources for members A ‘members only’ area of the IPEd website, containing resources and guidelines for editing and research and a forum on editing matters, will be launched shortly. Society members can sign up to access the area; your IPEd councillor has information on this. SA society members have already joined en masse. National conference news The response to the call for papers for the fifth IPEd National Conference for Editors, organised on behalf of the national body by the Society of Editors (NSW), was such that a full and dynamic program is assured. The conference in Sydney will run from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 September. The latest draft program is on the website and registrations are now open, with a 20 per cent early-bird discount available until 20 June 2011. 4

The Canberra editor May 2011

March meeting

Speketh so pleyne—a history of Plain English Megan Cope Every editor has probably come across that one sentence which, no matter how one tries, one cannot make head nor tail of. At our March meeting, Dr Neil James, Executive Director of the Plain Language Foundation, chair of the International Plain Language Working Group and author of Writing at Work. spoke about the historical perspective on plain language. The talk spanned Aristotle in the 4th century BCE, to Chaucer in the 14th century, through the obsessively overblown language of the 17th century, and finally to more modern advocates of plain language—Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Winston Churchill. Dr James first spoke about the principles of plain language, tracing the roots right back to the advice of Aristotle and the entreaty of Chaucer (‘Speketh so pleyne at this time, I yow preye, That we may understonde what ye say.’). These three basic rules were: write for your audience; match the text to the context; and use the simplest words possible’. Despite these principles, the 17th century saw the English language in its most incomprehensible state. The elitism surrounding language lasted until the 1920s, when the advent of industrialised printing and the spread of compulsory education meant writing was no longer only for the cultured upper class, and language had become more accessible. From this environment came the next principles: ‘Cut the clutter, prefer the active voice, avoid jargon and cliché, write in short sentences on average, punctuate for clarity, and match the readability to your audience’. Dr James demonstrated these using Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Raymond Chandler, John Grisham, Ursula leGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien and Tim Winton, among others. Using statistics, he demonstrated the difference of various authors. For average documents, he stated the suggested percentage of passive voice is 15 to 20 per cent. Only 14 per cent of Jane Austen’s work is in the passive voice, only 15 per cent of Charles Dickens’ and only 5 per cent of Anne McCaffrey’s. The other comparison made between the authors was sentence length. The average sentence length among the authors ranged from John Grisham’s 14 to Charles Dickens’ 29, to Shakespeare’s 38-word-average sonnets. As to readability, he cited several measures—the Flesch formula and the more popular and widely used Fry graph. A grade of 12 on the Fry graph is recommended for commercial writing, but all of the famous authors came in at 9 or under, including Dickens, Austen and Shakespeare. The final four principles of plain language were installed after the word processor made formatting and structure of documents more visible. The new rules were: ‘Have a clear core message, structure to foreground key information, maximise coherence, and use document design’. In a document containing an executive summary, an introduction, a main body and a conclusion, although 100 per cent of people read the executive summary, 60 per cent read the introduction, 50 per cent the conclusion, and only 15 per cent the main body, despite most of the important information being contained in the conclusion. Dr. James emphasised the importance of a logical sequence of information but suggested that the most logical way to structure a document would be to put the important information first, and the more detailed, but less significant information afterwards. He also noted that people generally speak beginning with old information, progressing to a new piece of information, then another new piece and another, which creates a flow of ideas and concepts that is easy to follow and coherent. He did, however, mention that getting clients to accept changes to the established document structure can be difficult for the editor. Finally, he focused on the future of plain language. Barack Obama has just signed the Plain Writing Act, which states that any document made public must be written in plain, accessible language. Also, more and more testing is being done on the public reception of certain types and styles of writing. The move towards plain language is predicted to have a marked impact on the editing business—more jobs are available in plain language editing and there is a push for this editing style to be recognised as a separate field. Even for editors who aren’t such advocates of plain language editing, different standards for editing will surely emerge. Many thanks to Neil James for his informative presentation, and here’s to an increase in the usage of English knowable and consistent to a larger subset of the literate population in general. Or perhaps, let’s just use plainer English to make it easier for everyone.

May 2011 The Canberra editor


April meeting

The grass is greener on the open side: Lana Brindley on open source Carol Taylor As someone who knows very little about open source software, I found Lana’s talk and presentation at the last meeting of the Canberra Society of Editors very enlightening. Those of us who work in government generally have to fit in with the software that comes with the work environment. Often we wish it could be otherwise. For example, my workplace includes the widespread use of the Lotus suite, software not often used by parallel organisations and unable to access relevant files. Not a very satisfactory situation. Lana’s talk outlined the many options available other than the ubiquitous Microsoft suite. She explained that open source software is often much better supported and more current that the more commercial products and that the creators of open source software are often in the game because of the challenge, the innovation and because they love the work that they do. For the last five years, Lana has worked with Red Hat, an open source software company. Her description of open source included words such as: nerdy, collaborative, stable and Lana Brindley platform independent. It is also generally free, as in cost, but there can be conditions of its use. Services enabling users to understand how the software works and its documentation are also free and interaction is encouraged. Lana compared some of the features of closed and open source software. Often, in closed source software, errors are not fixed until the next renewal comes on the market. With open source software, errors are often fixed quickly, through discussion and collaboration. She compared the stability of the two types of software, claiming open source was more stable because it is constantly adjusted and improved through community input. Overall, Lana said there was a role for both closed and open source software. Increasingly, standard formats are becoming more open—for example, .docx and later versions of .pdfs—which means that documents should still be readable and usable by future generations. The presentation generated plenty of interest and questions about good open source alternatives to standard software packages such as Office and PhotoShop. And on security, Lana said that bugs in open source software were often fixed much quicker because of the level of community involvement. Lana’s talk provided plenty of food for thought!

Lana Brindley and Ted Briggs


The Canberra editor May 2011

Cloud computing

Cloud computing for editors Hilary Cadman and Kim Wells

What is cloud computing? If you’ve caught a plane recently, you might have noticed that the airport is festooned with advertisements for cloud computing. For those who have not yet come across this term, here is a simple explanation: Cloud computing means that instead of all the computer hardware and software you’re using sitting on your desktop, or somewhere inside your company’s network, it’s provided for you as a service by another company and accessed over the Internet, usually in a completely seamless way. Exactly where the hardware and software is located and how it all works doesn’t matter to you, the user—it’s just somewhere up in the nebulous “cloud” that the Internet represents. (http:// The term ‘cloud’ is used here as a metaphor for the internet. Like a collection of water droplets, the data and software applications are ‘out there in a cloud’, rather than stored on the hard drive of a particular machine. You are already using cloud computing if you have a connection to the internet and make use of a search engine. You may also have an email account with hotmail or gmail, maintain an online calendar, or use a service such as Google Docs to create and share files online. All of these applications are examples of cloud computing, and many of us have been using them for years. What’s new is the increase in the number of companies and individuals deciding to access applications and data from the cloud rather than from a local server or a desktop computer. This change was driven by Amazon, when the company realised it was using only a fraction of its computer system, which was powered to cope with occasional spikes in activity. In response to this situation, Amazon developed a cloud computing service—Amazon Web Service. A wide range of other cloud services are now available.

Project management in the cloud Hilary uses cloud computing to manage her projects, via the online program Intervals ( There are many benefits to this approach: yyThere is no need to download software or manage updates. yyHilary can log in from anywhere at any time (provided she has access to an internet-connected device), to track the progress of her projects and assign work to subcontractors. yyHilary and her subcontractors can use Intervals to log their hours against specific tasks. On the negative side, the cost of this service is ongoing, because there is a monthly fee rather than a one-off cost of buying a program. Also, if the company is undertaking maintenance of the site, Hilary is temporarily unable to access her data. Some companies use a hybrid system, in which some resources are managed in-house and others via the cloud. For example, a company might keep sensitive data on an internal server, but use applications in the cloud for day-to-day work.

Advantages of working in the cloud As illustrated by the example above, one of the main advantages of cloud computing is that data and software are accessible (with privacy safeguards) from any device anywhere, provided there is a connection to the internet. This gives peace of mind, in that, if a computer crashes, the data and applications hosted in the cloud are not lost. Another useful feature of cloud computing is that files can easily be shared with others in a collaborative workspace. This feature is potentially attractive to editors, who often need to share documents with authors and reviewers. Email communication is pretty magical but many will have found it tedious when more than a couple of people are involved in the same editing or publishing project! The Australian Government has established Govdex as a secure, private webbased collaborative workspace. One alternative for those who do not have access to Govdex is, described below. Google also offers similar features.

May 2011 The Canberra editor


Cloud computing for editors (continued) Using and Buzzword Kim uses for creating and sharing files. The site has its own word processor, called Buzzword, which is available when the user signs in. The user can either create a new document or can import files into Buzzword. A file can then be worked on by others, provided they are signed in and authorised to edit the file. For documents that already contain comments and edits (which cannot be imported into Buzzword) or that are too large to be easily sent by email, it is possible to upload files directly to Uploaded files can be viewed or downloaded by others, either in their native format or through conversion to portable document format (pdf) in the cloud; however, they cannot be edited there. Files on the site can be organised by type, date, size, etc; they can also be tagged or allocated to different workspaces shared with different people or groups. Individuals may be given different rights; for example, to edit or view a file, or to share it with others. also includes facilities for preparing presentations (that can be exported as pdf) and tables that can be exported in a range of formats. The site also has links to sophisticated facilities for conferencing, transferring large files, and creating, distributing and analysing online forms. Data storage and backup is a particularly useful aspect of cloud computing. For example, a computer can be backed up to the cloud, rather than to an external hard drive, which may get lost or damaged, or run out of space. Again, the data can be accessed anytime, anywhere, from any suitable device with an internet connection. Some of these services are free (at least for a basic version), and the companies provide data encryption, for security. Sugarsync Hilary uses SugarSync as an online backup, to share files with others and to synchronise files between her two computers. She particularly likes the fact that the backup is automatic and continuous, and that SugarSync stores the last five versions of a file, for easy recovery. As with, shared files can be password protected, and the owner can determine whether the recipient can edit the files or only view them. Computers designed for cloud computing Cloud computing is growing. Already, some netbooks (e.g. the Google Cr-48) are designed exclusively for cloud computing. These machines are quick to start up because their operating system is based on a browser. Also, they do not require large-capacity hard drives, because operating applications and data storage are in the cloud.

Potential drawbacks to cloud computing There are some downsides to cloud computing. For example, Hilary and Kim attempted to co-author this article via, using Buzzword, but for various reasons found that it was easier to simply send versions back and forth by email. Some of the major issues with cloud computing are listed below: yyThe benefits of collaborating on a document via a site such as depend on the recipients being willing and able to log on to the site (e.g. Kim has found that the application is not available to residents of Myanmar). yyIf files are only stored in the cloud, then any problem with the internet connection can disrupt work (Hilary attended a meeting where this happened—all the client’s documents were stored in a virtual space, and the internet was down for the entire meeting). yyUsers may have concerns about security of stored data and data in transit. yyThere is an ongoing expense with most cloud computing services, although free versions that allow limited activity are usually available.



The Canberra editor May 2011


Thinking about words—the borrowings Peter Judge

Our rule of thumb is that roughly half our English language comes

from French sources (which generally means from Latin, at one remove) and the rest from Saxon, akin to modern German. This is obviously a great simplification, because words have constantly reached us from all over the world at various times and in very diverse ways. As the major empires stretched their boundaries ever further across the centuries, colonial administrators and troops took in bits of local language and introduced their own into occupied countries. Not only that, international trade continued to grow, bringing to an increasingly affluent middle class a new range of exotic material goods and foodstuffs, with their associated terminology.

An ancient example is silk, which reached Europe from China in about 200 BCE along the Silk Road. The Greeks knew it as sires, meaning ‘the oriental people’, the Romans as sericus. The ‘r’ developed into ‘l’ and the word ‘silk’ reached England through the Baltic trade via a Slavonic intermediary (modern Russian is shelk). In the other direction, early bronze tool makers in the Mediterranean needed tin to mix with their local copper, in order to toughen the metal. Cornwall was one of the European sources from around 2000 BCE, and the tin mining district there is still known as the Stannaries, from the Latin for ‘tin’, stannum. Surprisingly, we even have a geological hint of this in Canberra—Gossan Hill, in the suburb of Bruce, gets its name from rocks discoloured with iron pyrites, called gossan in the Cornish dialect. English has long been enriched by such ‘loan words’ from other languages. Robert Burchfield, in The English language, mentions borrowings from Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Greek, Malay, Persian, Russian, Scandinavian, Spanish, Turkish and Yiddish. The big inrush of Latinate words (and, to a lesser extent, Greek) came during and since the Renaissance, which for our purposes Burchfield dates from Caxton’s publication of the first printed book in English in 1476. In those days young men of good classical education, destined for the diplomatic service or commercial appointments, wrote in ever-increasingly flowery and over-blown English, often inventing Latin-sounding words to dazzle their readers. Their older contemporaries deplored this ‘ink-horn’ language and called for a return to ‘our own tung ... cleane and pure, unmixt and unmangeled with borowing of other tunges’ (Sir John Cheke, in 1557). The French founded their Academy in 1635, ‘to labour with all the care and diligence possible, to give exact rules to our language ...’. This was modelled on an even earlier institution in Italy, the Accademia della Crusca, founded in Florence in 1582. It began with a group of friends who wanted to compile a dictionary of ‘pure’ Italian, based on the works of the best 14th-century Tuscan authors, in particular Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Their dictionary, the Vocabolario, published in 1612, helped to establish Dante’s Tuscan dialect as the national language of Italy. Like all subsequent attempts, the Vocabolario failed to ‘fix’ anything, and the Italian language enjoys its growing quota of loan words like the rest of us. A need was widely felt in early 18th century England for a similar dictionary ‘for fixing the English language, as the French and Italian’. Dean Swift, author of Gulliver’s travels, wrote of English in 1712 that ‘if it were once refined to a certain Standard, perhaps there might be Ways found to fix it for ever’. And when Samuel Johnson took up the challenge in 1746 and signed the contract to produce a dictionary he did so with the intention of ‘fixing’ the language. But as he progressed he realised from his examples of actual usage that meaning ‘is determined by consensus, not fiat’. This is what every language has since discovered—even French! The French calculate that they have taken some 3000 loan words on board in spite of the best efforts of the French Academy, and this process is accelerating. Even when I lived in France in the 1960s concern was being expressed about this influx. I remember efforts to replace le weekend with something more obviously French, producing dreadful inventions like le samanche (a hybrid of samedi and dimanche, Saturday and Sunday) and la vacancelle (mini-holiday). Needless to say, they didn’t catch on and we still wished each other ‘Bon weekend!’ every Friday evening.

May 2011 The Canberra editor


Thinking about words—the borrowings (continued) The Germans have also adopted many loan words, one of the first being Kaiser (from Julius Caesar, active there in 58–51 BCE), among 500 or so from the Latin culture imposed on them during the Roman occupation. They group their current vocabulary into three classes: basic German with direct lines to Indo-European, loan words that have been fully assimilated and foreign words that keep their original character. Some of the latter have been around for a thousand years, like Apostel, Natur, Fundament. Others are recent acquisitions, like Videoclip, Broiler, Sweatshirt, Macho, Computer, Knäckebrot (yes, these really do figure in German dictionaries). The last of them sounds authentic, but began life as Swedish knäckebröd. Latin had another flowering in Germany after Christianisation began in 800 CE, but then followed the knightly period, when French words dominated in the context of courts and tournaments. Indeed, in the 17th century it became the affectation to speak French in aristocratic families— German sounded too COARSE! But, back to English. In the early stage loan words’ behaviour still reflects their origin. Radius is one example—it retains its Latin plural radii even 400 years after it was first written in an English text. Other Latin words give a choice: appendices or appendixes? The former is more common for the back of the book, the latter are more anatomical. Words ending in –us often have the –i plural, but there are many exceptions. Most people would prefer foci and stimuli to focuses and stimuluses, although both are ‘correct’. Census and sinus are among borrowings from the Latin 4th declension, which don’t change in the plural, and there we have no choice but the –es plural (censuses, sinuses) to avoid ambiguity. Never ever censi or sini! How do we know? When in doubt, check them in a good dictionary—even my Word spellcheck has just refused to accept them. Some of our loan words have reached us after world travels. Banana, which began life in the native Mende language of the Congo, sailed from there to West Indies, returning east to Europe with the Spaniards and Portuguese in the 16th century, and so to English a little later. The potato also took a round about route via Spain—the sweet potato from the West Indies and the ancestor of our common vegetable from South America, both of them originally batata or patata. The Germans (and the Russians) call it Kartoffel, which they imported from the old Italian tartufolo, so-called because of early confusion in Italy between the truffle (tartufo) and this new underground food. (They’ve worked it out now—it’s patata!) The Romans imported peaches from Persia, calling them Persicum malum, ‘Persian apple’, then to the French pêche, from which we borrowed our word. An orange, originating on the northern frontier of India, was once a norange, from the Hindu naranji, but lost its ‘n’ to the article, just like a nadre (the snake, Latin natrix) became an ‘adder’ and a naperon (in French) an ‘apron’. English, in a state of constant change and with such varied ancestries, is an exciting language to be part of. There’s no excuse for using it sloppily when it has such enormous versatility and power. Sources The English language, Robert Burchfield, OUP 1985 Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Das Herkunftswörterbuch: Etymologie der deutschen Sprache, 4th ed. 2006, Dudenverlag, Mannheim The Cambridge guide to English usage, Pam Peters, CUP 2004


The Canberra editor May 2011


The perils of freelancing Natalie Maddalena After the Society’s recent discussion about freelance editing, I thought this exchange was worth relating. This customer is in Europe, looking for someone to edit his novel. Imagine—all my emails are polite and professional; his are long and rambling. As we are in different time zones, there is one exchange every 24 hours. Him Can you please do a free sample edit of my great novel? Me

Sure. [Send back 3-page free sample with a quote $A for whole novel.]

Him Love your work, you are the front runner out of all the editors around the world I have sent this to. I need someone who will not be clumsy with my ‘light-paced narration’ and ‘mercury-quick, eloquent and spirited’ main character. Can I have another free sample from this chapter? Me

Glad you liked my work. No. Feel free to choose someone else.

Him I might just get you to do the first 4 chapters as that is what I will send to publishers. Me

Ok, that will be $B. And I can do a synopsis for an additional $C if you like.

Him Wonderful. My quirky writing style needs lots of care to keep its originality while improving my English. Him I just checked your website and you usually only charge $D? How come you are charging me $B? Me

Because you are ESL; it will take me a lot longer and be more difficult. But I will charge $E [between B and D]. If you decide to go with another editor, that is fine.

Him Ok, I have now narrowed it down to 2 editors; the others are out of the ring [extended boxing metaphor]. So you will charge me $E including the synopsis and give me a discount on the rest of the novel when I send it to you later because I improve quickly? And maybe the publisher can pay you out of my royalties when I get accepted. Oh, and what does POV mean? Me

[After 48 hour cooling down period] Reiterate last prices with no further discount, demand 50% in advance, the rest 14 days after completion. Explain POV.

Him I am trying to decide between 3 good editors. If I send you 5 chapters, can I have a discount? Me

No. [I withdraw from the ‘ring’.] Goodbye.

April–May report (continued) MOTION to change membership fees At our general meeting on 27 April 2011, we formally voted on the following motion: That annual membership fees for the Canberra Society of Editors be as follows: yy full members: $85 yy associate members: $70 yy students members: $30 yycorporate members: $225. These fees are to be effective immediately. The motion was nominally passed at the April general meeting, with only one vote against it. However, our constitution states that 20 full members must vote in person at a meeting, and any proxy votes are in addition to that. The constitution also requires us to present the matter again at our next general meeting. So stay tuned, and think of this as an added incentive to come along and enjoy a movie.

May 2011 The Canberra editor



The May meeting will be held at the National Library

From the President . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The Canberra editor

Conference update . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Published by the Canberra Society of Editors

IPED notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

PO Box 3222 Manuka ACT 2603

March meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

20th year, number 3 2

April meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Š Canberra Society of Editors 2011

Cloud computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

ISSN 1039-3358

Borrowings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Opinions and statements in signed articles are those of the author.

Freelancing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Newsletter schedule The next newsletter will appear in June 2011 and for that issue the copy deadline is 28 May. The editor welcomes contributions by email to: <>. All articles must be in .doc format.

If undeliverable, please return to:

Canberra Society of Editors PO Box 3222, Manuka ACT 2603



Profile for Canberra Editor

The Canberra editor May 2011  

Newsletter for the Canberra Society of Editors

The Canberra editor May 2011  

Newsletter for the Canberra Society of Editors


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