A guest post by Diane’s chief proof-reader and editor:
As all of you out there in blog-land know by now, my Beloved Diane likes to write. I for one think that she does it very well. But – horrors! – sometimes she makes a mistake.
Some time ago, she appointed me to be her proof-reader/editor/fixer-upper by insisting that, although she really does proof-read her columns before she posts them, sometimes typos and grammos just slip in there and hide.
“Grammo” is the pet word I concocted for her very infrequent “grammatical” errors.
Over the months, the most frequent of her infrequent grammos was the use of the wrong form of “its” or “it’s” as in: “Its simply not acceptable if it’s apostrophe is missing when its really needed or present when its not.”
So to speak.
So I do try to catch Diane’s typos and grammos, because I do believe it makes for a better read not to have them in there, and I believe that it shows respect to you, her readers.
I do not claim to be a perfect writer, but I did learn early while chasing an elusive education the importance of being word-perfect. So if you will indulge me, I will do as my Beloved does so well and regale you with the story of where my typo-grammo mania came from.
It was the early 1980s and I was in a graduate school senior seminar, learning French Revolution history and cultural anthropology from Dr. de Luna. (His name of course is of French extraction, and we often heard about his relationship to the moon – “lune” in French. Some of my classmates preferred to suggest that it was “loon”, others wondered whether there was a vampire connection, but most of us ended by irreverently, although affectionately, referring to him as Professor De Lunatic.) Now besides endless etymological meanderings about his name, Dr. De Luna liked to tell us, almost daily, about how any written work, as in papers and articles, that we gave him HAD TO BE WORD AND LETTER PERFECT. A summary of his reasonings: “It is disrespectful of your reader if said reader stumbles over typos and grammos WHICH ARE ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE because you MISGUIDED doctoral candidates were TOO LAZY to proof-read it. Your work is therefore sub-standard because your miserably lame analysis and argument that you think is intelligent discourse is unreadable because your reader is distracted when having to stop to figure out what it is that you MEANT to say when you made your typo . . . . . “
I think you get the point. We got the message, many many times over.
Not so lunatic, when you stop to think about it.
So, time came for us to present to the dear Professor our first major research papers; and, a few days later, time to hand the graded papers back and discuss them in seminar.
Dr. De Luna went around the room, handing each paper back to its (notice this is the right one!) author, each with some mostly encouraging commentary and all with some very vociferous praise for being letter-perfect in the typo and grammo department.
All but one paper – the one belonging to a good friend, Ostap.
Now you should know that Ostap had a great sense of humour, was actually a very good scholar, but he had not internalized the message about being word-perfect. He just didn’t think it was all that important. At least not yet.
We came to discover, by the Professor’s 10-minute+ recapitulation of the obviously degenerate if not criminal intent and nature of anyone who dared to hand in a paper IN THIS SEMINAR that was anything LESS than word perfect, once again how important this whole typo-grammo business was.
At the end of his lecture (not the one about the French Revolution), Dr. de Luna passed this last paper to Ostap, with a scowl and a stare, and asked: “So, Mr. Ostap, what do you think I should do about this sort of thing? Hmmmmm!???”
Ostap quipped back without the blink of an eye: “I think you should stop worrying about it so much! You’ll enjoy life a lot more and live a lot longer!”
We weren’t sure how long Ostap was going to survive.
But he did, and went on to a bright future.
But not as a writer.
Dr. De Luna retired shortly after. We think it was because of a brain aneurysm. Caused by the lodging of typos and grammos in the blood vessels of the brain . . . .
And so, my friends, I pledge to continue doing my best to save you from typos and grammos in my Beloved’s columns.
Its the least I can do. (Oops!)