doc w/ Pen

journalist + medical student + artist

Tag: copy editor

Once a copy editor, always a copy editor

Having worked as a professional copy editor, grammatical mistakes make my hair stand on end. Especially when they’re printed on signs in public places. I’ve never actually done anything about this, other than to internally cringe. Until this past week.

Below are photos I encountered on a handwritten notice advising that a drinking fountain was out of order. I immediately noticed the error in the message. I started to step away, but felt drawn to return. To fix what was wrong. I pulled a pen out of my pocket and quickly did just that. My handiwork is subtle, matching in ink color so as not to draw too much attention to itself. My goal was not to shame the writer, but simply to correct the mistake.

I’ve included before and after photos to illustrate my good grammatical deed.

Before / After:

I left the drinking fountain with a smile on my face, feeling I had done the right thing. Feeling I had done a necessary thing.

Ah, saving the world, one grammatical error at a time …

Once a copy editor, always a copy editor

You know you’re a still copy editor at heart when

… You’re reading a neuroanatomy textbook, trying to learn about the vestibular system, and come across an antibiotic spelled in two different ways on the same page. Not only do you notice this, but you feel the need to investigate: gentamicin vs. gentamycin? The former is the correct spelling (with the “i”), according to multiple online sources including the Mayo Clinic. But this isn’t enough. You now need to grasp the roots of this mistake. So you dig deeper, and discover that the misspelling is somewhat understandable given that other antibiotics — streptomycin, neomycin, and tobramycin — spell that syllable with a “y” rather than an “i.” And actually, gentamicin (with an “i”) is sold under the brand name Garamycin (with a “y”). After all this, you are mostly satisfied, except that you have no power to correct the error.

Following such a lengthy digression, this is your final, perplexed thought: “Now what was I reading again?”