Grumpy old man, #42

I think I’m turning into a grumpy old man …

[Cue suppressed laughter off stage, murmurings of “Turning? Turning? Happened years ago”, etc. But I shall ignore these scurrilous interruptions.]

… and the latest cross-making irritation (especially galling for a long-time Analysis editor) is the effort by some OUP copy-editor to improve a forthcoming Analysis paper by Luca Incurvati and myself, by inter alia, removing all the contractions, replacing “don’t”s by “do not”s etc.

Now, it is one thing to replace American spelling by English spelling (or vice versa), or to replace “…ize” by “…ise”, for example. But to replace “don’t” (one long syllable) by “do not” (two short staccato syllables) is to change the rhythm of a sentence. The use of “don’t” can smooth the reading of a sentence, slightly modulating the emphasis. Has the OUP editor being paying attention to such matters? Somehow I think not. My bet is that the changes have been made without thinking, slavishly following some semi-literate “style book”.

And to make such changes wholesale is to arbitrarily change the authorial tone of voice: which is just impolite (to put it mildly — especially when some of us put quite a bit of effort into getting the tone we want).


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