Angry Editor, My obsessive Chinese alter-ego, was interviewed by my company's internal magazine. This may go some way toward explaining what all those strange Chinese tweets and Facebook updates have been about.
What is Angry Editor?
Angry Editor deals with the mistakes and style issues I frequently encounter as an editor of written English in China. Previously, when I explained my edits face-to-face, my colleagues would be surprised that they had been making a certain mistake and extremely grateful that I had pointed it out. My blog is simply an extension of these conversations.
Writing posts in an “angry” tone hopefully makes an otherwise dry, academic subject more memorable and interesting to read. Of course, anyone who is in any way involved with writing will have developed a few pet hates. While these might wind me up a little, I never actually get angry.
Has Angry Editor offended anyone yet?
No, I don’t see how it could. Angry Editor does not single out actual examples, and I have never explicitly mentioned Ogilvy, let alone individual colleagues.
Aren’t some issues simply a matter of personal writing style?
Of course. And so not all “Angry Edits” correct mistakes, as such. For example, the use of “to join hands” when describing cooperation between two companies might be perfectly acceptable to some people; to me, it is a cliché. When dealing with the aesthetics of language, I make it clear that such edits are based on my personal opinion and are therefore fully open to debate.
What has been the most debated Angry Edit?
There were over 200 comments – many in disagreement – on an impassioned case I made against the abbreviation “etc.” when used in conjunction with the expression “including.” Such online debate is beneficial for everyone, including me.
Are you qualified to correct people’s English?
I have done a fair amount of English writing, editing and translation. But more importantly, I am fascinated with how language works. What I don’t know, therefore, I will go to great lengths to figure out.
What has been the biggest challenge with Angry Editor?
Writing regularly in my second language has not been easy, especially as readers show little mercy to my less-than-perfect Chinese. This is hardly unsurprising, and I imagine people thinking, “What right does this guy have to correct us if his Chinese is not perfect?”
Don’t they have a point?
My Chinese will never be as good as my English, and I am sure people understand that. At the same time, I am very careful to make sure that my articles make perfect sense and are easy to follow. I sometimes also ask Chinese friends to proofread.
What is the next stage?
I am currently trying to write a book. One day, I would also like to deal with PowerPoint design issues that drive me crazy, and even use podcasts as a way of correcting common mistakes in spoken English.