An American Editor

January 17, 2018

What Not to Do as a Newcomer to Freelance Editing

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many people inadvertently make gaffes when they’re just starting out as freelance editors (or writers, proofreaders, indexers, graphic artists, layout and design providers, etc.). As you start out, or as you look for opportunities in new areas of skills, topics, or services, you don’t want to be the person remembered for a clumsy entry into a community of colleagues.

Keep in mind that most colleagues are more than generous about sharing advice and even fixing problematic sentences — essentially doing your work for you. Be careful not to take advantage of that generosity.

With that in mind, here are a few things not to do when you’re starting out. Or even if you’ve been in the profession for a while!

  • Jump into a discussion group or list to ask how to get started. It might seem like a logical thing to do, but there are so many resources to check out that it shouldn’t be necessary to ask such a general question. Most established freelancers are more than willing to share information, but get tired of the same old “how do I get started” questions that could easily be answered by doing a little research yourself — looking through group archives, doing online searches, consulting bookstores, etc. Once you’ve done some of that basic research, ask something specific.
  • Make your first comment in a discussion list or group a request (or what looks like a demand) that people send you their “overflow” work or refer you for projects. Wait until you have contributed something — preferably several things — useful to the group before you expect people to consider you as someone to refer, recommend, or subcontract to. At least let members of the community know what your background, training, and experience are. Established colleagues are not going to recommend, refer, or subcontract to someone we don’t know and whose skills and experience aren’t evident.
  • Have typos and clunky language in your first — or any — posts to groups of colleagues. Yes, many online environments are considered virtual water coolers or almost family gatherings, and some communities are more forgiving of errors in posts among colleagues than others. And yes, we all make mistakes. But our online presence is often the only way colleagues meet us. If we want people to think well of us as professionals, we have to make our posts as clean, error-free, and coherent as possible. You don’t want to be remembered for error-filled posts when an opportunity arises to be referred, recommended, or hired by a colleague.
  • Ignore the rules of a group. Editorial professionals, especially editors and proofreaders, are supposed to be detail-oriented (perhaps to an extreme extent). If you join a discussion list that calls for tags or labels on messages, use ’em. If the group discourages personal or off-topic posts, pay attention.
  • Complain — to a client or to colleagues — about late payment before it’s been 30 days after you billed for a project, unless the client has clearly agreed to pay sooner than that. Payment by 30 days after invoice date is a standard in the business world. Some clients use 30 business days, and others are using 45 or 60 days. Some will cut and mail that check on day 30, so it won’t reach you for another couple of days. We have a right to be paid on time, but “on time” could mean day 31 or 32. Even if your agreement or contract is to be paid 10 or 15 days after the invoice date, give it a couple of days before checking on the payment if it doesn’t arrive by the agreed-upon date, and make the inquiry polite, not frantic or arrogant.
  • Tell clients you need to be paid because you can’t pay your rent or buy groceries until you receive their payments. Clients don’t care — at least, most of them don’t. They care about getting top-quality work back as scheduled. They also don’t need to get the sense that you can’t manage your finances, even if their lateness is causing the problem. If you have to chase late payments, state the matter in terms of being paid because you did the work as agreed, not because you need the money for essentials.
  • Accept a project deadline and/or fee without seeing the complete document or nature of the assignment first, or accept an editing or proofreading client’s description of the document’s number of pages and level of editing or proofreading needed. A client’s definition of a “page” and what the manuscript needs can be very deceptive. Until the you see the manuscript, you don’t know if the client’s page is single-spaced, in 8- or 9-point type, with next to no margins. Whether you use 250 words or 1,800 characters as your standard definition of a page, use it to determine the actual length of the manuscript.

Clients also tend to think their projects are better than they really are, and “only need a light edit/only need proofreading.” When you actually look at the document, it may need a heavy, intensive edit — one that is substantive or developmental — that will take two, three or 10 times longer than a light edit or proofread.

If you base your estimated fee or deadline on what the client says, you’re likely to cheat yourself — and work yourself to a frazzle for far less money than you should receive.

  • Accept a project when you don’t really know how to use the software program(s) it requires, unless you let the client know ahead of time that that’s the case. Clients don’t want to be your learning curve. Figuring out how to use a new program or application will slow down your editing speed, which could result in missing a deadline or earning less than you should.
  • Respond to a job listing when you aren’t qualified for the project. That only makes you look unprofessional, wastes the prospective client’s time (and yours), and makes the group sponsoring the listing service look bad. Focus on the opportunities that you really are qualified for and your results are likely to improve.
  • Answer questions that weren’t asked. If you can’t respond to what someone actually asked about in a forum, group or discussion list, don’t. If you have a related but different angle, start a new discussion rather than dilute the original one with information that isn’t helpful to the original poster.
  • Fail to look things up that are easily found online or in group/list archives. Most questions about starting out as an editor, a freelancer, or both have already been answered, either in the group you belong to or elsewhere, but so have many questions about usage, grammar, and other aspects of editing. Learn how to check the archives of the discussion lists, forums, and groups you belong to so you don’t ask questions that have been answered dozens of times.
  • Cry poor. This may seem harsh, but try not to use poverty to beg for work or as the reason you aren’t using current technology. Most of us have been there — short of cash, desperate for income, stuck with late-paying clients — and will be sympathetic, but would rather see someone make an effort to overcome these situations than play on that sympathy. Again, we deserve to be hired and paid for our professional services, not because we’re broke.
  • Bulk up your posts to a discussion list or forum with tons of repeated previous message content. As a colleague who manages a list said recently, when asking listmembers to trim their posts, “We’re editors here, so let’s edit.”

What “newbie” goofs did you make when starting out as an editor or freelancer? What would you advise colleagues not to do?

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher, and speaker whose motto is “I can write about anything!”® She is also the owner of Communication Central, which hosts an annual conference for colleagues (2018: September 21–22 in Rochester, NY), and the new editor-in-chief of An American Editor.

January 15, 2018

Romanized Arabic in English Texts — Part 3: Spelling the Definite Article

by Ælfwine Mischler

As an editor and indexer in Cairo, I often work on materials containing Arabic terms and names. The Arabic definite article is usually romanized as al-, but the vowel is sometimes written as e (especially common in Egyptian names) or u. Although it is such a small word — only two letters, alif lam — it often presents problems for writers and editors of English texts.

In this essay, I talk about these elements:

  • assimilating with the following letter
  • merging the article
  • elliding the vowel

In Part 4, I will discuss these difficulties:

  • dropping the article in names
  • capitalizing the article
  • alphabetizing names and words with the article

Assimilating with the Following Letter

Years ago when I joined the staff of a large Islamic website, it did not have a style guide, so I set out to write one in consultation with the heads of several departments. It was not easy because the website had a broad range of intended audiences and levels of formality between departments, and for technical reasons we could not use diacritics (which I felt were inappropriate for most of the audiences anyway). The Arabic definite article was the source of many arguments, which I lost. The books I now work on use the style that I prefer, so I am not constantly cringing as I edit.

The arguments were about what to do with lam, the letter that is usually written as l in English. Half the letters in Arabic are shamsiya letters (“solar” letters) and half are qamariya (“lunar” letters). If lam comes before a solar letter, it is assimilated to the letter following and is known as lam shamsiya (“solar lam”). “The sun” in Arabic, al-shams, is actually pronounced ash-shams. If lam comes before a lunar letter, it is pronounced as usual and is known as lam qamariya (“lunar lam”). “The moon,” al-qamar, is pronounced as it is spelled.

Most scholarly books and trade books ignore the lam shamsiya and do not show assimilation. To my mind, this is best for the average reader, who will perhaps recognize al- as a morpheme but be confused by its variants. The assimilation should be shown when the correct pronunciation is important, such as in transcribing poetry, prayers, or Qur’an. Authors of Islamic books might insist on showing the assimilation in all cases. If you are an author, you should, of course, check the publisher’s guidelines and discuss them with your editor if you have any disagreement. If you are a copyeditor and your author has shown assimilation of lam and the managing editor is OK with it, be sure it is done consistently.

In romanization, the l of the definite article assimilates with the following letters, with or without diacritics: t or th, d or dh, s or sh, z, r, l, n.

Merging the Article

The article is usually romanized as al- in scholarly texts, but individuals may write the vowel differently in their names, and the article may merge with the preceding word. A common Arabic male name consists of Abd (or ʿAbd) [ʿ 02bf] (slave) plus one of the names of God: for example Abd al-Aziz (or ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz) [ʿ 02bf, ī 012b] “slave of the Almighty.” An individual with such a name might spell it with Abdal or (more often) Abdul or Abdel as the first part, and the second part might be attached to the first with a hyphen or closed up. Thus, someone named Abd al-Aziz might spell his name Abdal-Aziz, Abdal Aziz, AbdalAziz, Abdalaziz, Abdul Aziz, Abdul-Aziz, AbdulAziz, Abdulaziz, Abd el-Aziz, Abdel Aziz, Abdel-Aziz, AbdelAziz, or Abdelaziz. The name Abdallah (or Abdullah) “slave of Allah” is often spelled as one name.

My experience has been that people with Arabic names who grow up in a country that uses the Latin alphabet are consistent in spelling their names, but people who grow up in a country that uses the Arabic alphabet are often inconsistent in romanizing their names. This can be a problem for researchers — those who publish under multiple spellings will not get all the credit they should, and those who are looking for a particular person have to search multiple spellings.

Your job as an editor is to check that the spelling of an individual’s name is consistent, even if two people with the same Arabic name spell their names differently. A carefully prepared style sheet is essential for this. As I mentioned in Part 1, your task is easier when editing scholarly works that use diacritics (where ʿAbd al-[name] is used for historical names), but, depending on the style guide, names of people from recent centuries may or may not be transcribed using those rules and thus may be variously romanized.

Elliding the Vowel of the Article

In Arabic script, some conjunctions and prepositions are inseparable from the following word, and in most transcription systems these are shown with a hyphen: bi-, wa-, li-, la-, etc. The vowel of the definite article is not pronounced. Whether and how this ellision is shown in transcription varies from one system to another, giving writers and editors one more thing to watch for.

The International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) gives the following examples in its guidelines: “fī al-ʿirāq wa-miṣr” (in Iraq and Egypt; is not an inseparable prefix in Arabic script) but “fī miṣr wa-l-ʿirāq” (in Egypt and Iraq). However, the Brill Encyclopaedia of Islam 3 differentiates between prefixes that keep the alif or delete it in Arabic script, and gives these examples in its Instructions for Authors: “wa-l-kitāb, fī l-masjid, Muḥyī l-Dīn, bi-l-kitāb, but lil-masjid.” Yet another transcription system shows the ellision with an apostrophe: wa-’l-kitāb, fī ’l-masjid. In this case, the author and copyeditor must also ensure that the symbol for hamza (ʾ) is not used where an apostrophe should be.

Part 1 of this series discusses the reasons for various spellings of Arabic names and terms, and Part 2 discusses some other challenges that authors and copyeditors might have. Part 4 will provide more discussion of the definite article.

Ælfwine Mischler is an American copyeditor and indexer in Cairo, Egypt, who has been the head copyeditor at a large Islamic website and a senior editor for an EFL textbook publisher. She often edits and indexes books on Islamic studies, Middle East studies, and Egyptology.

January 10, 2018

On the Basics: So You Want to be a Blogger

by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

There are thousands of blogs already “out there,” but that hasn’t stopped blogging from continuing to expand. Given the increasing scope and popularity of this communication channel, it might be time for you to take the plunge and join the blogosphere. Here are a few things to consider before or when doing so.

First Steps

Before committing to blogging, take some time to plan what you’ll do and say. First and foremost, have a point, purpose, and original angle. Before you start blogging, survey the landscape — see who else is posting about the topic or profession you have in mind. A lot of colleagues are already blogging about all aspects of the publishing profession, so make sure you have something unique and original to contribute to the blogosphere before you jump in with a blog of your own. It might make more sense to become a contributor to an existing blog that relates to your interests than to start your own, similarly to the columnists here at An American Editor. (That could help with the next point as well.)

Set a schedule. Decide how often you’ll post new material to your blog. Try not to be overly ambitious: It might seem like a good idea to make new entries every day, and it can seem easy in the first blush of launching a new blog, but posting daily is a lot of work, and can be hard to maintain. Few things can erode your credibility more than having to cut back on the frequency of your posts because you can’t keep your blog going at that level. You’re better off starting by posting once or twice a week and expanding to more often if you find you have enough to say for increased frequency (the same goes for those who launch marketing or promotional newsletters). Being a contributor to an existing blog can help with reducing the pressure to produce more than you really have time for.

Keep it tight. People today are swamped by so much information coming at them from so many angles that it’s hard to stand out, much less establish a regular following. People are more likely to read shorter blog posts than longer ones. If you have a topic that deserves more detail and depth, consider breaking it into a series of two or three parts.

Plan for the future. Before formally launching your blog, pull together a few posts in advance that aren’t time-sensitive. That will make it easier to establish momentum and keep it going. If something news- or opinion-worthy crops up before you use your prepared posts, so much the better — craft something to respond to the timely topic and save one of the existing ones for the next opening in your publishing cycle.

To enhance your planning process and reduce the pressure to produce, keep an eye on a year’s calendar to find events and celebrations that could tie into your blog posts. One that comes immediately to mind is National Punctuation Day in September, but other holidays could relate to your particular topic. So could events such as conferences of organizations in your area of the field. And a new year is almost always fodder for at least one blog post about personal or professional resolutions, goals, and new directions.

Building Your Audience

Once you’re out there in the blogosphere, you’ll need a following. There’s little pointing having something worth saying if no one is reading what you post.

Start by notifying everyone appropriate in your contacts of your new offering. That may not mean everyone you know — who might be interested in your blog will depend on the topic.

Post information about your blog to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media accounts. In doing so, let colleagues (and clients, if appropriate) know that you’ll be open to their responses. Every time you publish a new post to the blog, announce it in those social media venues.

If you belong to any professional organizations, send a news item to be published in their newsletters and other communications outlets to members. You might even get coverage if you don’t belong to a given organization but your blog covers information that is relevant to its members.

Put a link to the blog at your website, and add its URL to your e-mail sigline (signature). If you’re low on business cards, add the URL to it with your next order.

Look for opportunities to mention the blog in responding to social media and blog posts of colleagues and organizations you belong to.

Making it Better

If you already have a blog, you might want to make it better, especially if you aren’t getting very much readership or response to it. Improving a blog usually involves targeting a readership more effectively, writing more clearly and coherently, looking for new ideas and angles, getting professional editing or proofreading help, etc.

One way to make your blog more interesting to more readers would be read not only the blogs of colleagues but new and different newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc., and perhaps watching new television programs, that expand your view of the world. This would help you stay up to date on news and trends in the world at large and the profession, giving you more to write about with greater depth and scope.

Making your blog better also could mean asking colleagues to contribute posts, which would expand your blog’s reach to new readers, provide new and different insights, and take some of the pressure off you to constantly produce new material.

Whether you blog about our profession or something more personal, here’s to a successful effort.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher, and speaker whose motto is “I can write about anything!”® She is also the owner of Communication Central, which hosts an annual conference for colleagues, and a regular contributor to An American Editor.

January 8, 2018

A New Year — and a New Era for An American Editor

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Happy new year to all subscribers and contributors to An American Editor! As most of you know, blog founder Rich Adin has done me the great honor of handing off “editorship” of An American Editor. I’m both thrilled and intimidated by this responsibility — Rich created big shoes to fill, so to speak. The response to our announcements of this change from colleagues has been downright heart-warming, and I appreciate all of your generous comments in various forums. I hope to live up to his — and all of your — confidence in me.

While Rich and I have been editing professionally for almost the same amount of time, we work on very different kinds of projects, so my take on this profession will be unlike his. He routinely works on huge projects, usually in the medical field; even one of my biggest projects would probably make only a chapter in one of Rich’s usual manuscripts. He also functions as a company, with people who work for him, while I’m happily a sole proprietor, occasionally working with colleagues but mostly on my own. However, we share similar opinions about many aspects of editing today. We both care about quality and excellence, and are concerned about consolidation in publishing, outsourcing, and professionalism in the field. We notice many of the same things about how editors approach their work, how independent editors manage their businesses, and what clients expect or demand from editors at all levels.

Rich is also far more technologically and technically ept than I will ever be, but I’ll do my best to enhance my skills in that area on behalf of our subscribers.

Because I’m new to blogging on my own, I probably will not post quite as often as Rich has been doing, so please do not be concerned or disappointed if it takes awhile for me to work up to a three-posts/week schedule.

I’m glad to report that several of our columnists still plan to be involved with An American Editor and continue to share their perspectives on editing: Jack Lyon, of macro fame; Carolyn Haley, fiction editor (and author; a double threat!); and AElfwine Mischler, indexer (who also covers working in Arabic). We are open to new columns, either occasional or regular ones, from new contributors. If you would like to contribute essays to An American Editor, contact me with your ideas at Ruth.Thaler-Carter@anamericaneditor.com.

No one (including me) gets paid, so all posts you see here or would consider writing are labors of love — love of our profession, of quality, and — if this doesn’t seem too touchy-feely — of colleagues.

If there are topics you would like to see addressed here, please feel free to let me know at Ruth.Thaler-Carter@anamericaneditor.com.

Again, my thanks to all of you for your support of An American Editor to date, and from this point onward. Here’s wishing a productive and profitable new year for all.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher, and speaker whose motto is “I can write about anything!”® She is also the owner of Communication Central, which hosts an annual conference for colleagues, and the new editor-in-chief of An American Editor.

January 4, 2018

Worth Noting: Building the American Republic

The University of Chicago Press has published two new books on the history of America. I admit I haven’t yet read the books, so I can’t say for sure that they will be the history books of the year or even the month, but the authors are well-respected historians and the press is a well-respected press, so there is high expectation.

What makes these two books particularly noteworthy absent review or my having read them is that they are being made available as free ebooks, in addition to being available at a price in print.

The ebooks, Building the American Republic, Volume 1: A Narrative History to 1877 by  Harry L. Watson and Building the American Republic, Volume 2: A Narrative History from 1877 by Janet Dailey are available for free download from your favorite ebookstore or from the University of Chicago Press at this link:

Building the American Republic

One can never know enough about the past, the present, or the future, and reading well-researched and well-written history helps expand knowledge about the past.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

December 24, 2017

A Musical Interlude: Happy Holidays 2017!

Filed under: A Musical Interlude,A Video Interlude — americaneditor @ 3:29 am
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It’s that time of year when some of us can kick back and relax for a couple of weeks. When I was working full-time, that was difficult to do. In my retirement, it should be easy to relax, but not this year. This year I am far too busy with two very large projects, my grandchildren, and counting the days until the arrival of another granddaughter. But those are not excuses to at least relax for the holiday with some music.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the commercials created by Coca-Cola to celebrate the season. So, let’s begin our holiday musical interlude with probably the best holiday Coca-Cola ad ever — the original “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” I think the message is both timeless and worthy:

 

As I have said to my grandchildren, What would be a holiday without sugar plum fairies…

…and Hallelujah?

One of my favorite songs of the season is Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” sung here as a duet with his daughter, Natalie:

It wouldn’t seem like a holiday or quite right without wishes for a happy new year, especially as An American Editor changes day-to-day editorial leadership with the turn of the year. ABBA (who, to my great joy, has announced a reunion tour for 2019) starts us off with Happy New Year…

…and Three Dog Night has the final word: Let there be joy in the world!

 

All of us at An American Editor wish you and yours happy holidays.
May peace, love, and prosperity be yours
this holiday season and throughout the years to come!

Happy Holidays!

Richard Adin, An American Editor,
& the editors and staff of Freelance Editorial Services,
An American Editor Ltd, and wordsnSync Ltd

December 18, 2017

Romanized Arabic in English Texts — Part 2: Other Challenges for Editors

By Ælfwine Mischler

I have edited many articles and books with Arabic names and terms. Because of my language skills, I can often answer questions about romanized Arabic that colleagues ask in e-groups or to me directly. For example, a copyeditor once complained about the variant spellings her author was using, such as Kamal and Kamel, and asked which way she should fix them. Editor, beware! There are a lot of pairs or triplets of Arabic names that you might think are the author’s careless spelling when in fact they are different names. Don’t be too quick to correct, but do query.

Kamal and Kamel (or Kamil) are different names, Kamāl and Kāmil, respectively. Another common pair is Salah and Saleh (or Salih), which are Ṣalāḥ and Ṣāliḥ, respectively. There are several names romanized with a-m-r in English, but not all are from the same root: Amr or ʿAmr; Ammar or ʿAmmar; Amir or Ameer; Aamir or Amir (see image below). The last is rare but I came upon it while doing a quality control edit: there was a caliph known as al-Aamir. That one is hard to spell without diacritics; the double a is ugly, but Aamir and Amir have different meanings and should be distinguished.

Arabic names

And be aware that in addition to there being multiple ways to spell Muhammad, there is another name that you might think is a typo but is not: Muhannad.

What Does All This Mean for a Copyeditor?

If the text is academic English, romanization with diacritics will eliminate the ambiguities between similar names and terms. However, you do have to keep a careful watch for mistaken variants, such as an author forgetting a macron or a dot under a letter. In my experience, software to catch inconsistencies does not catch them if they involve special characters with diacritics.

Whether or not the author uses diacritics, keep a detailed style sheet — which you should do in any case. Record the first instance of every romanized name or term, and check every subsequent instance of it against your record. If there is any variation, correct it if you know enough Arabic to check it and do so, or else just flag it for the author to check and put the variant spelling on the style sheet. There is always the possibility that there are in fact two different but similar names or terms.

Dealing with terms and with names from the classical era of Islam is easier in that there should not be variation within a text. A name such as Yūsuf might be spelled Yusuf without diacritics, but if there are multiple people with the same name in the text, the name should be spelled the same way for all of them.

However, the same name from the current or recent centuries might have various spellings for the reasons I gave in Part 1. Without diacritics, Yūsuf could be spelled, for example, Yusef, Youssef, Yousef, or Yousuf. Of course, if there is a common or preferred spelling of a particular person’s name — especially if that person wrote his or her name in the Latin alphabet — that is the spelling that should be used.

When you are editing, if the variant spellings of a name are clearly referring to the same person but you do not know which spelling is correct or preferred, keep a record of them and query the author. If they are not referring to the same person, the “variants” might in fact be two different names, as I noted above. If you are editing a memoir, history, or other material where there are several people with the same name but different spellings, make a note in your style sheet to identify each person (“sister of the author,” “financial minister,” etc.).

Names with Abu

Another source of apparent inconsistency is names that in Arabic change the final vowel in the genitive. Many names are formed with Abu (Abū) plus another name, for example Abu Bakr (Abū Bakr) and Abu Taleb (Abū Ṭālib). In Arabic, the nominative Abū changes to Abī in the genitive, but in English the nominative ending u/ū should be retained. Untrained translators often keep the Arabic genitive ending i/ī when the name follows a preposition — for example, “She gave the money to Abi Bakr” rather than “to Abu Bakr” — but I correct Abi to Abu.

In most transcriptions an exception is made when Abu is preceded by ibn (“son”) or bint (“daughter”). Then the genitive is kept because the full name in Arabic will always have the genitive: Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, Ali ibn Abi Taleb. If you see bint Abi [something] or ibn Abi [something], you can keep Abi. If your author has consistently kept Abu after ibn or bint, query it. Some publishers might prefer to keep the nominative form of the name in all cases.

Virgules in Transcriptions

Another colleague asked about the use of a virgule in a transcription. Her author had followed the translation of a term with the romanized Arabic term followed by a virgule and more romanized Arabic. What did it mean and what should she do with it? For example, the author had written “companion (ṣāḥib/aṣḥāb)” and “word (kalimah/-āt).”

Fortunately for the editor, she did not have to do anything. The author was presenting the singular and plural forms of the words. Arabic has more than ten plural forms, so this is often necessary. In the first case the word has a broken plural in which letters are inserted, and in the second case the word has a regular feminine plural and only the ending is shown. This would be understood by the book’s intended audience. If you see a similar use of virgules when you are editing, it should not worry you.

Splitting Headaches

When you are proofreading, keep an eye out for Arabic names and terms that are split and hyphenated at the end of a line. It is best to not divide them except after the definite article al- or ibn. The letter pairs dh, gh, kh, sh, and th can represent the end of one syllable and the beginning of another, or they can be digraphs (two letters representing one sound), in which case they must not be split. If either letter of the above pairs has a dot or other diacritic, the word can be divided between the letters if necessary, according to New Hart’s Style, but The Chicago Manual of Style says the word can be divided only if both letters have a dot. Vowel digraphs (ou, oo, ee, aa) and diphthongs (ai, ay, aw, au) must never be split, and words must not be split before or after hamza, which is represented by an apostrophe or ʾ.

In Part 3: Spelling the Definite Article and Part 4: More on the Definite Article, I discuss some of the editing questions raised by al-, the Arabic definite article.

(For the first essay in this series, see: Romanized Arabic in English Texts — Part 1: Sources of Variations.)

Ælfwine Mischler is an American copyeditor and indexer in Cairo, Egypt, who has been the head copyeditor at a large Islamic website and a senior editor for an EFL textbook publisher. She often edits and indexes books on Islamic studies, Middle East studies, and Egyptology.

December 15, 2017

On Politics: A USA Today Editorial

Yesterday, the editorial board of USA Today, which tends to unquestioningly support Conservative Republicans and Conservative causes, shocked me by publishing this editorial:

Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?

(The Editorial Board, USA TODAY Published 7:30 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2017 | Updated 9:12 a.m. ET Dec. 13, 2017).

Some quotes from the editorial illustrate why I was shocked:

  • “With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office.”
  • “A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”
  • “Donald Trump, the man, …, is uniquely awful.”
  • “If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office.”

The editorial goes on to list additional reasons why Trump is a disaster for America and Americans.

When even USA Today is troubled by a “Conservative” president, America is clearly in trouble. (Interestingly, today’s New York Times reports that some Evangelicals are awakening to the problems of supporting people like Roy Moore and Donald Trump [“Has Support for Moore Stained Evangelicals? Some Are Worried“].)

I encourage everyone to read the USA Today editorial. I also encourage everyone eligible to vote to make sure they are registered and to put on their calendars now a reminder to vote November 6, 2018.

I also hope that when it comes time to cast your ballot on November 6 that you remember that it was the Republican Congress that failed to rein-in Donald Trump, and that Republicans (with a few exceptions) were more concerned about the Republican Party and its control of Congress and the presidency than about their country or fellow Americans who were/are being harmed by Donald Trump.

Come November 6, 2018, I hope voters will begin to lose their membership in the Screwed-By-a-Republican Club.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

December 13, 2017

An AAE Announcement: Change Is Coming

Filed under: Breaking News,Uncategorized — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: ,

As some of you know, I have semi-retired. I say “semi” because I am still accepting the occasional job from select clients, but my days of full-time editing are morphing into a couple of projects a year and lots of time with the grandchildren (with another coming in January).

I originally thought I would turn my attention to An American Editor, but I have found that I am increasingly being distracted by other things, not least of which are tackling my ever-growing To-be-Read pile of books (I did a rough count last week and the pile has grown to more than 200 books) and working on EditTools and a new book on the business of editing.

Because I think An American Editor is a valuable blog, I have decided that rather than end it, I would pass on editorial responsibilities to someone I think will do an outstanding job of continuing the traditions I have established for AAE over the nearly eight years (the first essay was on January 4, 2010) of its existence and more than 1,000 published essays. The new editor-in-chief of AAE is our own

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

who has authored the On the Basics essays for AAE.

Ruth will be assuming her duties as of January 1, 2018. I will still be around and an occasional contributor to AAE, kind of like the not-seen publisher. Ruth will be in charge, so any questions — including about becoming a contributor to AAE — should be directed to her at Ruth.Thaler-Carter@AnAmericanEditor.com.

I hope you all will join me in wishing Ruth congratulations and wishing her a long and successful association with AAE.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

December 11, 2017

On Politics: Welcome to the Screwed-By-a-Republican Club

Lots of voters had lots of reasons — real and imagined — for voting Republican (or not for a Democrat) for president and congress. A good number of independent editors were among those voters. Now I can welcome them to America’s fastest growing group, the Screwed-By-a-Republican Club.

The attacks on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) weren’t sufficient to open many eyes. Republican-voting colleagues have expressed frustration that Obamacare hasn’t been wholly repealed, again giving a variety of reasons, some valid and some quite suspect (eg, “I never get sick and when I do I can just go to the emergency room,” which begs the question of how the emergency room gets paid when a service recipient doesn’t/can’t pay).

These same colleagues also believe that the Republican “tax reform” legislation will benefit them; that the Republicans aren’t lying when they claim the wealthy will pay more and the middle- and lower-income classes will pay less; that trickle-down economics, which has never worked before, will work this time and as a result there will be more money to be made by editors from publishers and authors who will suddenly find American editors to be price competitive or, if not price competitive, will gladly pay the price for an American editor and so help spread the wealth.

President Trump repeatedly says that he will pay more in taxes under the Republican legislation. Whatever happened to the Republican challenges, “put up or shut up” and “prove it”? Why doesn’t Trump set America’s mind at ease by releasing his tax returns so we can see that instead of saving himself and his children as much as $1 billion in taxes, he (and they) will actually pay taxes. (I find it interesting that the mortgage deduction has been gutted except for golf course owners.) It is worth noting that nearly every tax analyst says the president and his family and many of his cabinet members will actually pay less taxes. (It is also interesting that Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has failed to release an analysis of the tax legislation, which failure is now under investigation by the Inspector General.)

Fortunately, I am already retired. My Social Security is pretty well set, my retirement investments already are required by law to be drawn upon and taxes paid, and my Medicare is unlikely to be affected — at least that is what the Republicans are saying today as regards the benefits for those already 65 and older. But for those of you not yet able to retire, the Republicans have announced that to pay for the $1 trillion (yes, trillion, not billion) debt increase that will result even if Republican economic projections prove correct, it will be necessary to reduce your Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Currently, Social Security pays an established amount each month from the U.S. treasury, regardless of whether the stock market is up or down or there is a prolonged economic downturn. In the market downturn of 2009, I watched my retirement investments lose up to 40% of value. When the market began to turn around, I began to regain some of that lost value, and it took years before I regained it all. Social Security, however, remained not only steady, but grew by the rate of inflation (which was quite nominal, about 2% each year).

The point is that Social Security was and is a safety net that ensures we can put food on the table in our old age. The stock market cannot and does not provide such assurance. The stock market is great in boon (bull) years and merciless in bust (bear) years, yet Republicans want to privatize the Social security safety net so as to reduce its drag on the national debt, which was largely created and enhanced by Republican “tax reform”. And this will be an imperative when this new Republican “tax reform” becomes a reality.

Medicare is in a similar situation. The current Republican plan being floated is to give every Medicare participant a set amount of money to buy private-market insurance. The last publicized number was 60% of the annual premium for a Medicare-equivalent health plan. Where, exactly, do Republicans think most retirees will find the other 40%?

Okay, you can see some of the ways in which independent editors are becoming members of the Screwed-By-a-Republican Club. But Social Security and Medicare are not the only ways and for a lot of editors, those are safety net benefits that are a ways down the road and not of immediate concern. Of greater concern is income taxes (and Social Security taxes, of which freelancers, unlike employees, pay 100%).

I grant that the absolute final bill has not been enacted and there could be changes still to come, and I grant that my personal economic situation is different than yours. But I decided to give it a try and see how the legislation might have impacted me if I used my income and expenses from my last year of full-time freelancing.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I would be eligible for the pass-through rate given to small businesses. To get that rate, you need to be, broadly speaking, either a corporation or a partnership, not just an independent contractor; that is, there has to be a formal, recognized business entity through which the income passes to you. In my case, I have a partnership and a couple of subchapter S corporations. Even with the lower pass-through rate, I would have paid approximately $3500 more in federal taxes alone (and my accountant thinks the amount may be higher than that).

Something else needs to be noted. When discussing paying taxes, the tendency is to focus on the federal income tax. But that’s too narrow. You need to focus on all the taxes paid to all levels of government. There is nothing beneficial about paying lower federal taxes if as a result I need to pay significantly higher state and local taxes. Switching pockets doesn’t suddenly make things better.

Analyses by Congress’ own bipartisan budget analysis committee say that most middle- and lower-income taxpayers will see tax increases, and corporations and the top 1% in terms of income will be the only groups to see real decreases. I don’t know any editors in the top 1%, so I am unlikely to know anyone who will actually see a permanent decrease.

In addition, all of the nonpartisan analyses agree that any decrease seen by any middle-income taxpayer will evaporate and change to tax increases after a few years (only the corporate provisions are permanent; individual-oriented provisions expire). Finally, the Republican tax-reform-will-result-in-lower-taxes declaration is premised on an already booming economy becoming suddenly boomier, something more than 95% of economists — liberal, nonpartisan, and conservative — agree is nearly impossible. They also agree that most companies will use any tax savings to boost stockholder dividends, salaries for the highest level of management, and stock buybacks — not to increase wages. (Interestingly, one company indicated that with the tax savings it expects, it plans to invest in automation and reduction of the human workforce, just the opposite of what Republicans are promising.)

Even if the naysayers are wrong and companies do boost wages for low-level employees, we need to remember that we are not employees — we are independent vendors, the ones that companies squeeze for lower costs.

The point of this essay is to remind colleagues that you need to think less narrowly and more broadly about the effects of politics on things that may not matter immediately but could matter down the road. If you recall, in my essay A Continuing Frustration — The “Going Rate”, I wrote:

With a new year arriving soon, it is time to become more of a businessperson and focus more on the business aspects of being independent editors.

That is true not only about the issue of what to charge to be profitable, but for all aspects of your editorial business. When you decide for whom to vote, you need to look farther in the future than to just tomorrow or yesterday. I try to ask and answer the question, “If I vote for the Republican/Democrat candidate and the Republican/Democrat party implements ____, will I be better or worse off than if I vote for the other candidate?” I then try to add up the pluses and minuses and weigh them. For example, when I turned 50 years of age, Social Security became a much more important issue to me than it was when I was 25 years of age. Similarly, doing away with the mortgage interest deduction was more important to me when I still had years of mortgage payments to make.

If you haven’t yet taken the time to look at the “tax reform” and attempted to see how it will impact you and your business, you should do so now. And when you next vote, you should be sure to vote for your future, not just for tomorrow.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

 

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