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February 18, 2012

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Copy-edit Question Edit

Usually, your copy-edits of my articles make sense and are welcome—with all the entries I've been editing, I make a lot of silly mistakes, (mistakes that are somewhat embarrassing at times.) So I admit I was confused by your edit of The Fine Gold Chain. I am not at all bothered by the edit—it's a wiki after all—but I don't understand what was wrong with any of things you changed. Or does the way you changed it just sound better to your ears? Again, this is just a question of curiosity. (I have noted that you like to change whenever I use the word "due".) ~ Lhynard (talk) 01:00, January 20, 2015 (UTC)

We all make mistakes; I certainly did when I touched up The Fine Gold Chain. It's also hard to follow a sentence around wiki code.
No worries about asking, I'm happy to explain, if I can. First, I'm a technical editor of scientific papers written by non-English-speakers, hence my focus here. I generally correct errors in grammar and style according to US English rules and roughly the Chicago Manual of Style, with adaptations to a wiki. But I limit the full range of possible edits here, to preserve a writer's voice, a fantasy style, and a conversational style.
Now, the specific points on the edit:
  • "The Fine Gold Chain was nearly impossible to miss to a visitor of Memnon" changed to "...for a visitor of Memnon". What did I do? I think it was editor's instinct. Let's rearrange the sentence to something equivalent: "To a visitor of Memnon, The Fine Gold Chain was nearly impossible to miss" or "For a visitor of Memnon, The Fine Gold Chain was nearly impossible to miss". Actually, both sound fine. The original "to a visitor" just sounded odd to me, I think because of the repeated use of "to". Let's correct "visitor of Memnon" (implying they are of, or come from Memnon) as "visitor to Memnon" (they come to Memnon). So "to miss to a visitor to Memnon" sounds very repetitious, while "to miss for a visitor to Memnon" is clearer.
  • "...due to its unique architecture." The grammatically correct usage of "due to" is tricky, and I'm not sure I understand it myself. I'll point to this grammar article. It boils down to "due to" being equivalent to "caused by" but not "because of". It's a common problem, one I only discovered last year, and I imagine most people who aren't editors and grammar nerds don't care. I could leave it, but changing it is a force of habit. "Due to"/"Caused by" didn't work, so I went for "owing to".
  • "The inner decorum". Here, "decorum" actually means social behaviour, propriety, good manners. So that would be how the customers and staff act, or perhaps the gargoyles. :) "Decor" means the style of decoration and furnishings (which I misspelled this morning after zero sleep). "Interior" seemed more appropriate, being specific to describing a building.
So, I hope that answers your questions. I'm happy to explain my copy-editing, but don't really have the opportunity to do so in a summary box. — BadCatMan (talk) 11:02, January 20, 2015 (UTC)
  • "Due to"/"owing to" — Ah, I see. That article's author was sloppy on his/her explanations, but it's a matter of the part of speech of "due" vs. "because"; the former is an adjective, while the latter is an adverb. In which case, "owing to" can get away with it, because as a participle, it can function as an adjective or adverb.
    I would argue, however, that this is all a little prescriptivist, as "due to" is a phrase that has taken on a role of a preposition in its own right, so it should be able to function in an adverbial sense as well.
    In any case, since the whole participial phrase functions as an adverb, it really should have a comma. :)
  • "Decorum"/"decor" — embarrassingly, I never knew this. Thanks for educating me! (I'm glad those gargoyles aren't alive now!)
~ Lhynard (talk) 21:21, January 20, 2015 (UTC)
Prescriptivist, yes, it is. But I don't expect anyone else to change how they use it, and I wouldn't edit an article solely to change it. It's just one of the things I correct along the way. (But, ugh, a comma? Something just looks funny about it.)
What I've been doing is to go through Special:NewPages, patrol a new page, click edit, read through, and check wiki code, style, spelling, and grammar. I want to ensure all new pages match the current house style while we update the old articles to that style. I like to think the FRW could be the only professionally edited wiki around. :)

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