Eva van Emden (she/her), freelance editor

Certified copy editor and proofreader


June 20, 2015

“When to use bad English” with James Harbeck (Editors Canada Conference 2015)

James Harbeck gave a great talk on when to use “bad” English. Bad English in this case means nonstandard English: ungrammatical constructions, jargon, slang, and vulgarity. And the first lesson for editors is that you should use bad English when it’s not bad. Some of the rules taught in the past never had much basis in logic, grammar, or common usage, and are now widely dismissed as superstitions. So go ahead: split infinitives and end your sentences with prepositions.

James has posted a writeup of his talk on his blog Sesquiotica.

“Honing your elevator speech” with Laura Poole (Editors Canada Conference 2015)

“What do you do?” People ask each other this question all the time, and how many of us can summarize the scope of our business activities, convey the extent of our expertise and enthusiasm, and make the listener want to know more, all in the amount of time it takes for an elevator to travel a few floors? I know I can’t—yet.

Laura Poole, a freelance editor herself, gave us some tips on how to get your message across.

Goal of your speech

  • Remember that your goal is to start a conversation.
  • Adapt your speech to fit the person you’re talking to. If you’re talking to your editing colleagues, you can say “I do a lot of substantive editing,” but for the general public, it might be better to say, “I edit and proofread books and magazines.”
  • Consider what you want people to know, and what’s unique about you.

Delivering your speech

  • Smile and make eye contact. Use a conversational tone of voice and show your enthusiasm.
  • Memorize the speech so that you don’t have to think about the words. That lets you pay attention to delivering your speech effectively.
  • If this kind of speaking doesn’t come naturally to you, try to pretend that you’re someone who does enjoy it.

Bonus tip

To keep your hand from getting crushed in a handshake, try shaking hands with your index finger (or first two fingers) sticking out along the inside of the other person’s wrist.

June 19, 2015

Editors Canada conference 2015

Newly certified editors. Photo courtesy of Paul Cipywnyk. All rights reserved.

I’m back from the Editors Canada’s 2015 conference “Editing Goes Global.” I have jet lag, a new copy of Merriam–Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, a stack of business cards, a list of LinkedIn invitations, a pile of receipts, and notes all over the place.

Conference co-chairs Gael Spivak and Greg Ioannou did an amazing job of putting together the conference. The attendance was the highest ever, and people attended from as far away as India and Australia.

Some highlights included John McIntyre on newspaper writing (some articles can’t be fixed), Carol Fisher Saller on assertionists, Sue Archer and Suzanne Purkis on networking (including the defensive handshake), Joe Kimble on legalese (the myth of precision: legalese isn’t really more precise than plain language), and James Harbeck on when to use bad English (to make yourself seem like “just folks”). Christina Vasilevski kindly invited me to stay with her during the conference, so I also got to chat about some of my favourite fiction on the way into town each day. An important part of the conference is awards and recognition. At the annual general meeting, I got my certified proofreader certificate, and at the awards banquet I was thrilled to see fellow Editors BC member Grace Yaginuma win the 2014 Tom Fairley award. Finally, I put a lot of faces to names as I met people who I’d only exchanged email with.

As I catch up, I’ll post some summaries from the sessions I went to.