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Harmless Drudge: Copy Editing at the New Yorker
Posted: 24 September 2012 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank: (So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best — A perfect and absolute blank!

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Posted: 24 September 2012 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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lionello - 24 September 2012 11:48 AM

I noticed the sentence The O.K.’er then copies these changes onto a pristine proof called the Reader’s (to keep the paper trail). I’m not sure I quite understand what the word “pristine” is intended to mean. It seems a long way from here to Livy’s “pristine virtue”. I’ve seen the word used (in leftpondian writing, more often than rightpondian) in an astonishing variety of contexts.  Would “unsullied” or “unblemished” more or less fit this case? Is it a proofreader’s jargon word?

The expression I’d use here, as a sub/copy editor, would be “clean proof”, that is, one without marks: in other words, this is a fresh proof run out with all the previous corrections done to it, so that the new, supposedly final corrections can be clearly seen without a confusing mess of proofmarks from previous rounds of proofing all over it. Never heard “pristine” used of this sort of proof - I think it’s just being used as a fancy work for “unmarked” rather than a term of art.

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Posted: 24 September 2012 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Eliza writes:

I have what I believe is the unique distinction of being called “snarky” on this very forum,

Languagehat called OP Tipping “snarky” here, though he later (more or less) retracted it, and I once so characterized a letter to the editor I myself had written.  That’s without going back to the yuku archives.

[ Edited: 24 September 2012 06:30 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 25 September 2012 02:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Yeah, pristine is a poor choice here; it could be confused with the original proof, with no changes having been made. Clean is the word I’ve heard most often in copy editing circles for an unmarked proof that incorporates earlier changes.

And in this case, a simple new would suffice, given that she also refers to it by the name actual term they use in house, reader’s proof.

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Posted: 25 September 2012 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank: (So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best — A perfect and absolute blank!

“The Hunting of the Snark” - Lewis Carroll - Nice one, OP!

Snarky is first cited in 1906, meaning irritable, short-tempered, “narky” (which means irritable, bad-tempered; sarcastic, disparaging). From snark v. “to snore, to snort, to find fault with, to nag” - 1866.

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Posted: 25 September 2012 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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FWIW, I think it is pretty common in the US to use “pristine” to mean, “really, really, really clean”, without regard to why something is clean or which sense of “clean” is meant.  So a pure, untainted tract of wilderness is pristine because it has been left untouched by human civilization, but a mopped and handscrubbed tile floor that sparkles with cleany-goodness is also said to be “pristine”.  It isn’t much of a stretch from pristine (well-scrubbed) floor to pristine (heavily-proofread) text.  So I found the reference to “pristine” propf to be unremarkable.  But I agree that another descriptor would have been a better choice.

Edit: I should clarify that by “heavily proofread” I mean that several errors have been caught and fixed, not that the text is covered with proofreader’s comments and corrections.  I’m assuming that by pristine the speaker meant both that it is a new draft of the text which does not contain any comments or marks AND that the text has had either all or the vast majority of any typos or other errors fixed (I.e., it has been scrubbed of such errors).  If the speaker just meant that it was a new draft with no proofreader comments or marks on it then it was an even worse word choice than I thought it was.

[ Edited: 25 September 2012 07:31 AM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 25 September 2012 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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FWIW, I think it is pretty common in the US to use “pristine” to mean, “really, really, really clean”, without regard to why something is clean or which sense of “clean” is meant. 

Exactly. I wasn’t suggesting the usage was incorrect, just confusing in this context. Does it mean go back to the original, or does it mean print a new corrected copy?

(Sometimes when a text has been through many hands, it becomes so mangled that you need to just chuck it and start the editing over. This particular need probably doesn’t arise that often in the context of a magazine, where there is a clear author and editorial changes tend to be lighter and directed by a defined house style, but it happens all the time when copy editing business and marketing material.)

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