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On the Lighter Side - Mo's Journal
November 17th, 2010
10:08 am

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On the Lighter Side
So I've always been a bit of an English teacher manqué. I’ve never actually taught English, but I’ve often exercised the English teacher impulses by such activities as:

- sharing literature with my kids
- editing my friends’ documents (upon request)
- writing scenes where an English-teacher-cum-superhero teaches literature to a bunch of mutant adolescents (see a lesson on Huck Finn and one on John Donne for examples).

I also can’t stop myself from mentally correcting the grammar on signs, commercials, and even song lyrics. This morning, for example, I found myself singing along to a song on the radio:

One fewer bell to answer
One fewer egg to fry


Well, now in my new job I have a whole new venue for enacting the English Teacher Tendencies: editing adoption summaries.

A big part of my job is reviewing all the documentation that goes to the court in support of an adoption. I ask questions and get clarification and correction on inaccuracies and inconsistencies before we send them on. This way we have fewer issues to address when the judge and court attorney review the documentation. A lot of what I question and correct is the actual content, but of course I also correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

One of the reasons (almost) everyone needs an editor is it’s hard to see one’s own mistakes. Human brains are expert at correcting and filling in; the author often reads what s/he meant to write rather than what s/he did write. A new pair of eyes (or foursome of eyes, in my glasses-dependent case) can see things that were missed in authorial review.

I’m happy to provide that service. Plus it’s often fun. Some of the mistakes are really funny! Here are a few of my favorites:

“[Prospective Adoptive Parent] is committed to not using corporate punishment.” I figure she pledges not to put the kids in cubicles and make them write memos.

“[Prospective Adoptive Child] enjoys the traditional foods of the household, particularly Curry Children.” Hmmm, how many previous kids were placed there? Do we know what happened to them?

“[Prospective Adoptive Child, a teenage boy] demonstrates good boning with all members of the family.” I’m pretty sure we would frown on that kind of thing, if it were really happening.


In addition to the above, I insert a well-known quote in my email notice of our weekly adoption conference call and promise a prize to the first person who guesses the source.

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From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:November 17th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
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You sound as though you're having fun in your (not quite so new) job. I hope you are. I've been thinking of you, but have had new and exciting health problems in the last months and haven't inquired.

and in my sister-geekness, I spent about 5 minutes looking at your song trying to decide if it would make more sense as "1 fewer bells to answer." I don't know why my mind thought it might, except that it was, after all, morning.
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From:mofic
Date:November 17th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
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I'm having great fun in the job! It's interesting; often heartening; sometimes funny. I feel needed and feel like I can carve out room for my peculiarities (like the quotes from Great Works at the weekly conference calls). Oh if only it paid a living wage!

What's going on health-wise? Off line if better.

I emailed you a while ago because I was planning on spending a weekend in the Twin Cities (and did) but didn't hear back. Maybe I used a not-used email address? I have trouble keeping track of which you use...

And I smiled at the sister-geekness.
From:lux_apollo
Date:November 20th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
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Those are some great examples.
From:ext_330443
Date:November 22nd, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
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Wow, that proofreading sounds really satisfying (and obviously amusing). I would love to find work correcting others' English. And the music - I'm sure you know how many "If I was..." lyrics there are in songs. It's not as though it's necessary for rhyme or the number of syllables. Gah!
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From:mofic
Date:November 27th, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
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It's funny with song lyrics. Sometimes the mistakes are just right iykwim. They're part of what the lyricist is trying to convey about the "I" in the song. I would never feel urged to change:

"It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If'n you don't know by now"

or

"If heartaches was commercials, we'd all be on tv."

But other times the error sounds like an error.
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