The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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11:15am on Saturday, 12th July, 2014:
A couple of years ago I gave a presentation at a conference in Cardiff on the Preservation of Digital Objects. The book of the conference is now out, with a chapter in it by me.
OK, so books are edited by editors. This means that changes are inevitable. For changes to grammar, punctuation and spelling, the changes are usually to ensure consistency with the rest of the book, or with the publisher's house style, or indeed with the English language... Here, for example, is a sentence fragment as I submitted it:
The designer of the game ceded authorial control over their work the moment it was published
Here's how it appeared in the book:
The designer of the game ceded authorial control over his work the moment it was published
OK, so they don't write with a Yorkshire dialect that has a handy singular they construct. I'm surprised they didn't go with "his or her", but I don't know what it says in their style guide.
I do, however, know that if you put "he" then this bit in brackets from the next page in the article reads weirdly:
In this perspective, the artist is attempting to convey a message through (in the Mona Lisa's case) his work.
I was talking just before this about the Mona Lisa, but why do I put "in the Mona Lisa's case" in parentheses? Well, if earlier I'm talking about people in general but here I'm talking about a specific person whose gender I know, I'm going to want to use the appropriate pronoun — "his", in this particular case. In order to clarify this, I put in the parenthetical explanation. However, this now makes the earlier use of "his" look as if it must have been talking about someone specific, too.
Bah! Not that anyone will read the chapter anyway, given that the book costs £59.95 to buy...
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