Posts Tagged proofreading

Are terrorists proofreaders? And vice versa?


Mark Liberman of Language Log has an interesting post in response to an article by Praveen Swami in The Hindu. Swami claims that textual analysis of the document supposedly sent by the Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan (claiming responsibility for the recent Mumbai terror attacks)  suggests that it was written by a non-native Hindi speaker because: 

a) it was written using voice recognition software, and

b) the text wasn’t proofread.   

Both a) and b) appear contestable to both Liberman and his commenters. I find the comments interesting anyway, because well, it’s always interesting to read what firangs have to say about our languages!

Here’s a delicious sample: 

Are you telling me that they couldn’t chase someone down that could write in Devanagari? Or at least borrow Arabic-Devanagari dictionary (or whatever a book is called that helps translate one script into another) from the library? I mean, this is their manifesto after all, you’d think that it would be a crucial document.  . . .  To just use voice-recognition to get the text down, which you can’t proofread at all? This wasn’t done in an afternoon, it seems incredibly unlikely to me that this is how they did it.

And another:

Oskar, are you saying you can’t believe terrorists wouldn’t take time to do a good proofread? I work at a publisher. If you’re right, I only wish more of our authors were terrorists.

Do read the entire thing.

In other news, this blog is going off the air for a while because its author has holiday homework: a book manuscript to wrap up, proofread and submit by the end of the month; a major chunk of another to get done by the end of next month; and a student dissertation to be edited and proofread, also by the end of the month. Miles and miles to go . . . sigh. Proofreading can be terrorising. For both parties!

But I will be back, of course. With or without a bang. So long, folks!


Comments (3)


 A friend sent me this link: The Impotence of Proofreading. Delightful piece. Thanks PK. The blog on which this was posted is also well worth browsing.

Proofreading – that handmaiden of writing – reminds me  of some household chores, like putting the clothes out to dry, bringing them in and putting them away in wardrobes; drying the dishes and storing them.  Tiresome but unavoidable; if neglected, then all the effort put into the big chores comes to nought!

Ergo, proofread proofread proofread. Yes, even that shopping list.

No, Microsoft Word is not a good spellchecker, as this letter from a teacher to her students proves:

Deer stew dents 

To questions four you. Do you know how too use the spell checker on the computer? Can you sea sum spelling mistakes inn this? The spellchecker on my computer could knot fine any problems – awl my words were correct. The grammar checker all so said my grandma was perfect

The spellchecker on WordPress did not indicate any errors in the letter, either! So you see, there are things that machines simply cannot do.

 Thanks PK for this one, too.

And I do solemnly swear that I will henceforth proofread my mails to you carefully.

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