I became a proofreader because I don’t like seeing mistakes in signs and other printed materials which people have paid good money for. I feel one doesn’t acquire a professional image of a company whose advert says Proofreader’s ‘R’ us.
I am all too aware that offering a proofreading service opens me up to criticism if I make typos in my emails and spent hours double-checking my website, only to be told by my friend that I had made an error or two. This is probably because I didn’t have much formal training in typing, growing up in that bygone era when offices had typing pools and secretaries just before computers took over the world. A common error in my own typing occurs when I have to type a double letter as I often pre-empt myself and type the letter before the double letter twice, e.g. prrofreader! Therefore I always read things through at least twice. This just goes to show that it is very difficult to proofread your own work.
I have been known to spot spelling errors in printed materials and then contact the writer to offer my services. That said, I would never look down on someone for making mistakes and would never correct a friend’s email unless specifically requested. And I wouldn’t write sarcastic comments either — I believe this has been given the term flaming.
I recently came across an article in the Daily Mail where the actress Emma Thompson criticised teenagers for using ‘teenspeak’. Readers leaving comments were condemned by a certain Cherry of South Oxon who took it upon herself to correct other people’s English from their comments. However she made herself look incredibly silly by wrongly insisting that the possessive of the plural word children is childrens’ and rudely put down anyone who tried to correct her. The argument rolled on and on for pages and became more and more amusing. It got to the point that I was desperate for Cherry to see she was wrong and own up to it. Someone tried to defend her by copying a quote from The Apostrophe Protection Society’s website but missed the point completely by not quoting a section about irregular plurals such as the word children! Cherry’s absolute classic comment was:
I speak as a grammarian of some forty years’ teaching experience. (Please note – the apostrophe comes after the ‘s’… because? Answerts on a postcard, please.)
Earlier in the comments, she had spelt the word grammarian with one ‘m’ and, as you’ve probably noticed, also spelt answers incorrectly.
The moral of the story: there is no need to be condescending to other people, which is why I like to see the lighter side of life.
Amongst other things, a spellchecker won’t pick up:
- repetition of words in a sentence, e.g. the cat that that was sitting
- correct spelling of a word when another should have been written, e.g. she was hiding form him in the garden
- consistency in spelling a name, e.g. Mr Green was waiting. Mr Greene was getting bored
- where hyphenation is required, e.g. build-up instead of build up or a little used car instead of a little-used car
If anyone finds any errors in my writing, please let me know!