Friday, December 16, 2011

We will not be replaced, AP ...

The offer below arrived in my inbox yesterday. I almost stopped reading at the headline.

Anytime I see something about automated editing of any kind (including spelling and grammar checkers), I bristle. These tools may be helpful to a point, but they will never replace the keen eye and mind of a person experienced in editing. And, no, I'm not saying this because I need a job; I'm saying it because it's true.

Take a look. Would you have confidence in this product? (Red markings and bold mine.)

New AP StyleGuard offers automated style checking in Word

Screenshot of AP StyleGuard
Since 1953, we've brought you AP Stylebook.  Now, we offer you an easier way to stay in style automatically with our new product, AP StyleGuard, powered by Equiom Lingustic Labs.

AP StyleGuard, powered by Equiom Linquistic Labs, is a powerful yet easy solution that integrates with Microsoft Word and provides automatic checking of your documents for AP style.  Using defined structure and rules similar to Word's spelling and grammar checking, AP StyleGuard helps ensure the consistency of your writing style.  It saves the time of manually referring to the AP Stylebook and offers recommendations on items you might not have realized are covered by AP style.

No matter what type of writing you do, you can rest assured that AP StyleGuard helps you stay on top of all the current spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage guidelines from the journalist's bible.

So this "spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage" tool wasn't able to help with spelling Linguistic 
correctly in its own ad. Or enforcing the only-one-space-after-a-period rule. And it doesn't claim to help with things like unnecessary repetition -- because, of course, how could it? -- but this piece needed that kind of help, too. The kind of help you can get only from a human being.

It's always good to be reminded that there is no substitute for a real live copy editor. Thank you, AP.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Unstopable" nonsense

As Joe Jackson would say, "You can read it in the Sunday paper ..." Yes, I'm dating myself by both quoting Joe Jackson and admitting that I still read the newspaper, but look at the fodder I get.

The coupon inserts from a couple of weeks ago (the only part of the ads I look at) included this gem:

OK, so where do I begin? The oxymoron? The assignment of a new part of speech? The missing -- no, wait, it's there in one place, so let's make that inconsistent -- hyphenation?

Well, let's start at the beginning. The name of the product: "Unstopables." No, not Unstoppables, which itself isn't even a word but at least makes more sense in the spelling department. (Unstoppable is a word, yes -- an adjective. By adding an "s" it becomes a made-up noun. See more on this below.)

I read "Unstopables" as un-STOPE-ah-bulls, because, as we all know, the double consonant following the vowel makes the vowel short (the AH sound), whereas just the one consonant makes the vowel long (the OH sound). What? You didn't know that? Well, shame on your English teacher.

Anyway, not only does the spelling not make sense, but also the name doesn't make sense. To me, anyway. This is a product that you add to your wash to "boost scent." In other words, to stop odor. But wait — this is called Unstopables. What is it unstoppable at? Boosting scent? Meaning it doesn't stop even after you remove the clothes from the washer? Is that even possible? (Or desirable?)

Whatever. Let's move on. "New & improved." Well, which is it? Is it new? Or is it just the original with some improvements? Can't be both. This is called an oxymoron. Like "controlled chaos" or "rap music."

Next: "Get a fresh too feisty to quit." A fresh. So now fresh is a noun? Oka-a-y...  But a feisty fresh? Come on.

Underneath that: "An in wash scent booster ..." That should be "in-wash" -- and it is hyphenated on the actual product. Inconsistency. Real turn-off.

And to top it off ... why the French? At least this product also includes Spanish, which makes sense since probably the majority of Americans speak Spanish at this point. But French? So many products (especially in the personal-care category) include only the French translation, as if that makes them more desirable. "Oh, so the French use this moisturizer ... it must be really good!" And one of these days, when I learn French, it'll be fun to see how accurate the translation is.

Just what you wanted: A copy editor of multiple languages!