On not italicizing Spanish

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Today I’m editing an article that talks about translation in the bilingual classroom. There was a section of dialogue that was tough to edit clearly: A student read aloud a few sentences from a book, including a line that was spoken in the book, then discussed with three other students how to translate those sentences. The students asked one another in English about this or that word in Spanish, and I used quote marks, offsetting commas, and italics to clarify which words the students spoke, which words they were discussing, and which words were part of the quoted material or their translation. (If the article is freely available when it’s published a few months from now, I’ll link it so you can see what I’m talking about.)

I didn’t even bother to italicize every instance of Spanish, thanks to a video posted by author Daniel José Older last year (before his novel Half-Resurrection Blues was published; which you should definitely read):

The text I’m editing is academic, not fiction, but that doesn’t really matter. It would have been doubly more confusing (and, I decided, wrong) to try and italicize all the Spanish simply because the article as a whole is in English, and it wouldn’t have been true either to the way these bilingual students spoke or to what the reader needed to understand.

The overarching questions I ask as I’m editing are “What are you saying here? How can we get that across to readers so that they get it right away?”

These days, I don’t reflexively italicize Spanish. When I’m following a style guide that does, I stop and think about whether each instance of italics would serve the reader. Today, it would have just gotten in the way. Out it went.

Pirates of the Caribbean gif:

Sticky: Availability and April updates

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It’s rainy and gray here, the first of several rainy days forecast, and I’m doing some catching up. Enjoy some updates.

First, we have still not moved house. The delays are really wearing on my optimism, but at least things are getting done. We’re looking at another tentative moving date of “next weekend, probably, or maybe the week after.” So I won’t be scheduling many projects in April, but I am expecting to crank things up in May. Contact e-mail for project scheduling is, as always, editing@lastsyllable.net.

ETA: Yes, we are moving at long last! I’ll be mostly offline from Friday 4/19 through Sunday 4/21 for the move. I’m trying to create a schedule with minimal downtime (since putting projects on hold didn’t work out for me) and expect to be back in action on Monday, April 22.

And now the news:

A novel I edited has just been published! Check out Happy(ish) by Cara Trautman, available on Kindle. It’s a fun read, if I do say so myself, and I enjoyed working on it.

As a follow-up to my last post: I opted to start the trial period of Office 365 Small Business Premium and it might be okay. It’s prompting me to use an on.microsoft.com e-mail address until I go through a complicated process to verify that I own my domain, but I don’t use Outlook and am not sure what else they’d need that information for (I won’t be managing my site through Office). So that’s tabled until I have the spare brain cycles to figure it out. And I haven’t signed up for those classes yet; the accounting class may not end up being as useful as I thought, since what I need is tax advice for freelance editorial professionals (instead of general accounting), and I missed the EFA’s webinar on exactly that subject.

Since the announced demise of Google Reader, I’ve been able to move my feeds to The Old Reader (I’ve also seen recommendations for Feedly and Newsblur, though I haven’t tried to use those services). My initial grump about The Old Reader is that I haven’t found a way to automatically alphabetize feeds. However, when I clicked on something and then clicked the Back button, The Old Reader didn’t lose my place in the feed I was reading, for which I cheer enthusiastically. If I did that in Google Reader, it would take me back to the feed and disappear the post I was in the middle of, making no distinction between “marked as read” and “I’m finished with this, it can go away now.” So if that’s my trade-off, I’ll manually alphabetize my feeds.

And that’s the news of the moment. More as it develops.

Link roundup

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Another set of links that I’ve been reading lately.

What does it say on your tin? I hemmed and hawed about the idea of specialty e-mail addresses, but what really got me was the illustration of three addresses for three different proofreaders with equivalent skills:


There is a four-figure budget for each title with guaranteed repeat work but the clock is ticking. Which of the three do you feel like trying first?

I’m quite fond of my Gmail address but I couldn’t argue with that. This post is the reason my contact e-mail here is now editing@lastsyllable.net. Does what it says on the tin.

The Freelancery: I found this site through a link on the EFA members’ discussion list and spent the better part of my night reading through the archives. I love the encouraging yet willing-to-admit-failure tone Walt Kania has and the nuts-and-bolts processes he discusses. There may be a couple more posts forthcoming where I generally enthuse about this or that post on The Freelancery.

And a couple of literary news items:

“The World Is Not Acquainted With Us” The Emily Dickinson International Society last month showed a daguerreotype that is probably Dickinson with her friend Kate Scott Turner. I’m not a Dickinson expert so I wasn’t aware that there had only been one other image of her. Very exciting to be confirming a second image!

Richard III dig: ‘Strong evidence’ bones are lost king Speaking of exciting news, this BBC article indicates that an archaeological team is close to DNA confirmation that a skeleton found on a dig in Leicester is the actual Richard III. The location of the burial (at Greyfriars, in what’s now a parking lot) is consistent with the historical record, as are some physical characteristics of the skeleton (severe scoliosis and wounds to the skull). This whole thing is just breathtaking.

Link roundup

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Some of the things I’ve been reading lately:

The Business of Editing: Evaluating a Manuscript. Gives tips for evaluating how long it will take you to edit a manuscript. Includes lots of promising-looking links (that I still have open in tabs for later perusal).

Writer Beware: Editors. Explains what different types of editors do, what they don’t do (or can’t do — no guaranteed best sellers here), and what factors writers should consider when they’re thinking about having their manuscript professionally edited. This is tailored to fiction editors since it’s from SFWA, but if you’re not sure whether your manuscript needs a copy edit or a developmental edit, or if you’re tallying up the cost of editing and wondering if your investment will be money well spent, there’s good advice here.

The Subversive Copy Editor Blog. I’m a couple chapters into the book and it’s been worth every penny. Its companion blog made it into my blogroll right away. (The most recent post is advice to a new copy editor who wants to know how to come back from overediting.)

The EFA sells several booklets that look like good resources for freelancers. I’m eyeing a couple of them.

Freelancers: What to do after your training. Create an online presence, see yourself as an entrepreneur, and other advice. I’m on the right track, according to this list!

2012 Freelance Industry Report. Charts, graphs, and other data on freelancers’ attitudes, work habits, prices, and lots more. I admit, I haven’t read this yet, but it’s highly relevant to my interests.