Monday, August 30, 2010

The Context of Content

The English language is a funny thing. There are so many words that sound the same yet have polar opposite meanings. We even have words that are spelled the same way but how they are used in a sentence or paragraph means they are pronounced differently and mean different things. Talk about confusing!

For reviewers whose English is not their primary language, that can be daunting and quite a challenge. Kudos to them because I'm only a one language person. Even so, writing in the English language can still cause moments of mayhem for those who have used it all their lives. So grammar and spelling issues affect everyone no matter the expertise. Thank goodness for dictionaries in paper and online. But they do fall short sometimes. They can't catch every word because our language is fluid and evolving all the time with advancements in technology and discoveries in nature.

The basics remain the same however and as reviewers we should be conversant in them or at least I believe we should be. That's why I love the Internet - so much information at our fingertips.

I mentioned the use of Spell Check in a previous post and how important it is. But I'm going to explore it further here because there are other issues besides spelling that can make an editor of reviews want to stick his/her head in a vat of chocolate to escape the insanity.

Words out of context. Like "She defiantly agreed" Or "What she feels takes presidents over anything else". Those words are spelled correctly so Spell Checker is going to give it a green light.

Definitely and precedence are the words they SHOULD have been and it's easy to see how it can happen. However, if a reviewer has a propensity to repeat the same thing over and over again, that's just not nice. If it's a matter of habit, I believe it takes making the correction over twenty times to break the cycle and I think it's worth the doing. Refusing to learn or self-correct after repeated editing requests is a red-flag to an editor. What do you think it says?

We are on a learning curve all of our lives because each day brings us experiences we learn from. The same can be said for writing. Authors get better at their craft over time because they learn from their mistakes and editing suggestions. Why shouldn't reviewers??

I found this nifty online gadget that might help with that context thing.


Or if grammar poses questions no one can answer, this site seems to offer a variety of options: Grammar Tools

I tried out the Spell Check Plus and it actually highlighted the part where it made no sense because the word wasn't used in context. It doesn't offer options to correct it but it can alert a reviewer to its misuse. And even this site isn't perfect. It caught the president but blew by defiant. Yeah, it's a conundrum but still, this and others like it are the kind of tools a reviewer needs to have in his/her repertoire if they have a hard time remembering from review to review.

If you enjoy reviewing, isn't it worth doing well? Knowing your favorite author may be reading your review, don't you want to put your best foot forward? An editor can help, sure, but not all review sites have editors. So arm yourself with the tools you need to do the job right then you can hold up your head with pride in a job well done.

No comments: