Editing in a Flat World: Taking Advantage of Globalization

BAEF South Bay forum
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Summary notes by Bill Lusto


Extensive, lively discussion of issues and concerns among the 15 or so attendees:

  • Learning to work with Indian writers
  • Outsourced writers typically use non-U.S. English
  • Many native-born writers don't have a grasp of fundamental English
  • Editing process often invoked at the end of the cycle rather than the beginning
  • Demeaning, vague instructions: "clean up the text"; "look it over"; "give this a quick read"...
  • Have writer describe product; identify audience; purpose of document
  • Companies axing editors; engineers creating—and editing—their own docs
  • What do "Value Added" and "Value Proposition" mean?
  • Establish Editor as a helping role, not a grammar Gestapo

Lost in Translation


  • "was not good sports"
  • "nip in the butt"
  • "S&M Conference" (not what you think: a Sales and Marketing conference advertised in India)
  • "much fun experience"
  • "Pick up your arms and rein the nature's power!"
  • on the contrary = in contrast
  • possibility to do = possibility of doing
  • different to [Brit] = different from

Subject-verb agreement

Chinese: no articles, no plurals

Cultural issues

  • Writers sometimes take on air of superiority.
  • Editors sometimes seen as adversary.
  • Most writers welcome friendly guidance.

Job Market

  • Chemical companies
  • Bioscience
  • Translations
  • Video games
  • European academia
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading



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