Editing other people’s words

…is so much easier than editing your own, at least in some cases.

Trivial example: (this is a trivial post, with probably more language-related posts to come)

Reading the October 13 Chronicle of Higher Education–the fun part, Section B–I get to the letters, one of which is about deadly sins of bad writing and adds two more, one of which is “wordiness”

(For example: “Here it is very important to note that in this case the hippopotamus in question was a midget.” How about: “Note that, in this case, the hippopotamus was a midget.”) [Stacey C. Sawyer]

Very good–and I wish I could consistently do as good a job with my own prose. But looking at the particular string of words and any plausible context or meaning, I found myself saying:

This hippopotamus was a midget.

From 18 to 10 to 5. Don’t expect me to do as well on my own stuff. But then, neither have outside editors (although they almost always improve “my” prose).

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