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Author Topic: Fantastic magazine! One criticism.  (Read 18634 times)
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Orbo
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« on: June 17, 2010, 08:07:16 AM »

Received Special Interests #3 in the mail yesterday.  Ilkka Vekka of Haare sent it to me.  I can't believe how stuffed this little A5 publication is with interviews, reviews, artwork, articles, etc...

And while I love it to pieces and will be ordering every other upcoming issue, I have a problem with how the magazine treats the English language.

To be fair, I understand everything in the magazine.  Every sentence, ever article, every review, but at the same time I find myself sometimes having to go over a sentence once or twice to understand what is trying to be said.  The grammatical liberties and the cadence of how English is sometimes written in SI can be jarring and even a little tedious.

I'm only posting this because I know SI wants to be a magazine that is written in English.  If it were a purely Finnish magazine I obviously wouldn't be posting this.  It seems trivial, I know, but things seemingly insignificant as grammar and flow make a monumental impact on how the credibility of a publication is perceived.

I spoke with Ilkka about this, and he suggested approaching the editors and contributors to SI through this forum, so that's what I've done.  I'm a student in university majoring in English and Anthropology.  I would have ample time to simply review articles, reviews and whatever else to help make them sound more authentically English .  It would almost be a process of transliteration.  Problems could very well present themselves in the form of contextual disagreements or mistakes made during the process of restructuring a sentence, but in the long run, I think it would improve SI's readability substantially.

I just think it's important.

best,
Cam

P.S.  I really do think the actual substance of the magazine is utterly amazing and I've been reading it all day.

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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2010, 08:38:08 AM »

As an English speaker I try to be as accurate and readable as I can when I write, and expect similar standards - of other English speakers. I do think it's fair and reasonable, though, to not be so pedantic with the English of people to whom English is an additional language.

I think it's quite well known in the world of PE, Noise, Industrial, etc., that a sizable majority of artists and others have a variety of languages that are original to them and personally I admire anyone who takes on another language and use it. Of course there are going to be mistakes, but that has to be par for the course.

Basically, while I appreciate your sincerity, I honestly think your criticism is simple nit picking. There are a lot of people, who's first language is English, who absolutely mangle it with impunity and those are the ones, I think, who should have their arses kicked. But when it comes to people from non-English speaking background I really think it's churlish to worry about it. I'm often surprised just how well many Europeans do speak English; in many ways, much better than people in my country and other English speaking countries. Often people who take on English as an additional language do tend to be more careful with their choice of words, a lot more careful than original English speakers. You're right that misunderstandings happen, but again I'd argue that can happen with people who originally speak English anyway. If you've ever seen the Chondritic forums, you'll know what I mean.

That, at least, is my point of view. But others who work on the zine may well think differently and may want to take you up on your offer.
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heretogo
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2010, 09:12:42 AM »

I'm not a native English speaker so my perspective is obviously different from yours. I agree that certain level of intelligibility is needed, totally broken English can be entertaining but not very rewarding in the long run. But I think 90% of the contents of the zine reach this required level. Of course there are pieces where the use of the language is idiosyncratic but most often that just adds to the attraction of what is being said (and fits in the context). In the case of artist/band interviews it's also the prerogative of the interviewee to use such language as he/she sees fit.
I know that my own English is far from perfect and doesn't conform to all the customary rules & conventions. It probably means that when I write something that feels funny or insightful to me the sentiment is not necessarily passed on to others. Most likely some of the idioms I use have roots in Finnish language and when I "transport" them to English they become obscure and meaningless to most people. But I enjoy colourful (even eccentric) writing by others and would rather strive for that myself even if it's not always (or ever) succesful.
Maybe you shouldn't consider it to be normal English, more like appropriated English. That's anyway the case everywhere nowadays, with English being adopted as the universal language all around the world. The rules will be bent and grammar will be broken.
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2010, 05:17:21 AM »

I honestly think your criticism is simple nit picking

That may be, but the guy said he's an English major so it's understandable. I also noticed this too from the first issue and I was even thinking of saying something here but refrained because I didn't want to shit on the parade, hah.
For the most part it's minor and doesn't get in the way of enjoying the material, but it is definitely noticeable to native English speakers. SI has had great contents so far, so that strength is more than enough to make up for a smattering of language mistakes. If the contents weren't so strong, then it may be a different matter...

The justification of "it's the author's second language" doesn't really do it for me. English is my native tongue, but if I were to release a published 'zine in Finnish, Spanish, etc...and there were noticeable grammatical and other errors, do you think the native speakers of those languages would give me a free pass because it's not my main language? I doubt it. The errors would most assuredly be pointed out, eventually.

Posts in a forum are one thing, but this is a published magazine that is sold. I know Mikko strives to put out the best possible products, so it shouldn't be too hard to pass the mag off to a reliable English speaking proof-reader before sending the whole job to press. Shit, I would be willing to do it for a free copy of the mag and maybe a little distro credit.

« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 05:21:35 AM by RG » Logged
Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2010, 06:18:11 AM »

Point taken, but still, I'm arguing for allowances. The main issue being just how hard people try. As I mentioned in my post, there is a difference between someone trying to get English right, whether it's their second language or not, and those who just don't give a shit, which are mainly people who are speaking English in the first place.

However, I admit that doesn't counter your argument. The trick is the interpretation; if, for sake of argument, Orbo takes up the job and corrects the grammar, etc., from his point of view (and given it's his field of expertise, I'd defer to his judgement myself), it would have to be as close to the spirit of the original words as possible.

So, room for more thought on this issue, I see. I can imagine some people taking exception to having their words "corrected", but not all.
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RG
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2010, 06:49:19 AM »

for sake of argument, Orbo takes up the job and corrects the grammar, etc., from his point of view (and given it's his field of expertise, I'd defer to his judgement myself), it would have to be as close to the spirit of the original words as possible.

So, room for more thought on this issue, I see. I can imagine some people taking exception to having their words "corrected", but not all.

I don't think it's been suggested that a proofreader would change the contents of an author's article; rather they would point out errors and make suggestions to help make the article(s) flow better.

And as far as people taking offense at having their words "corrected", I say lose the ego and get over it. The author's name is still on the article, not the proofreader's, so if anything the author should be thankful to have a second set of eyes looking at their words and helping make it more professional. This happens at any newspaper, magazine, etc...
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Goat93
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2010, 09:41:27 AM »

I don't care about Grammatics or any those Shit in a FANZINE, its totaly Stupid in my Eyes to watch about some Mistakes. Read the Zine and be Happy that there is some like this out.
Same goes for Forum Posts. Hey, its Virtual Shit only. Here are no Sado Maso teachers with Spanking Syndrom, so calm down.
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2010, 09:45:03 AM »

I have nothing against proofreading. I just think people should realise this is an international underground effort. And for this reason I at least even expect idiosyncracies in the use of language due to the different cultural backgrounds of the contributors and artists/bands interviewed.

I agree that getting rid of blatant grammatical errors, misspellings etc. would improve the zine. But to complain about cadence, flow and style seems a bit much. As I said, English has ceased to be just the language spoken in UK/USA/Australia and you cannot really control how it will be used by non-native speakers. Don't expect it to be The New York Times.
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Orbo
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« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2010, 10:12:10 AM »

'Lingua franca' is the term which has kept replaying itself in my head since reading the replies to this thread.

English has been an international standard of sorts for some time now, and in re-reading my initial post, it is clear to me that I harbored an ethnocentric view of it.  By that I mean that after reading the magazine, I looked at the language and criticized it based on my own understanding of English.

That was a mistake.

However, I still think SI could benefit from a more rigorous editorial process.  It's a magazine for fans by fans, to be sure, but that doesn't mean it has to be riddled with simple mistakes.  Context and flow aside (those are simply subjective observations), I still think the magazine should undergo at least a basic editorial review.

Just as a simple example, the omission of grammatical articles (the, a) in many sections of the magazine yields something which (to me) lessens its readability.

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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2010, 10:13:02 AM »

Even in times of Freak Animal magazines.. and then Degenerate, there was handful of critics for language. But there always was also handful of people who gave compliments. Saying it is actually better language than many zines that are made by americans themselves. Which of course may be intention of those zines to be something very different, which gives indication of enthusiast teenager furiously typing his opinions, rather than someone who took care of grammar.

Most of the time, there isn't so much text written by myself (just editorial, some questions and handful of reviews). It is most of all artists talking, and I feel very cautious about re-touching someone's expression unless it has very obvious repeated typo's etc. Point is understood even with broken simple english, but often it seems that you would have to re-write everything from start to finish if you'd like to make it look "accurate". But then missing the whole personal touch of artists. Most obvious thing that comes to my mind are for example Le Syndicat/Entre Vifs in "tape noise" (SI#2). I asked handful of american friends how they feel about this, and everybody said it should be printed "as is", and not even try to make any changes.

All the texts go through automatic proof reading programs. Which are indeed shitty. They only recognize incorrect spelling of words. Then everything is printed out, and proof-read with "red marker" in hand doing notes what could be changed/corrected. And after that, it goes to print. I do realize that someone else could perhaps do better job, but for how long, and how quickly? With soon 20 years in underground activities, after c. 50 zines edited in those times, I have noticed that to get things done => D.I.Y.   Many promises are always made. Many people are enthusiastic. But when it comes down to shitty consuming work that has to be done... well, it doesn't get done.

This can be asked from anyone who made noise zine/magazine. I know how to cope with reality. I have some plans how to improve grammar/language, how to improve interviews, how to improve content of 'zine. But in the end, it's "just a zine", which is healthy way of thinking if you want to get things done. So many things never gets done when perfectionism hits the game. There is always something to do better. Specific publishing schedule is helpful, since you just have to get it done with material you have ready by the deadline.
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« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2010, 06:35:17 PM »

misspelling is one thing but broken english is underground. love it or leave it.

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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2010, 08:21:42 PM »

I read the interview questions / reviews in a Mikko Aspa voice - makes perfect sense to me....
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Donal O
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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2010, 01:10:33 PM »


I think this a good point by Orbro. The first thing to get right is the text as the basic core and then do the stuff like the layout and grafix.
I enjoy communicating with non english speakers and adopting there habits evan it certainly offers a differnt perspective and it can be refreshing to change the normal format ! Besides most people make and twist there own words that is if you can get them to speak to you at all !
In ireland you have differnt accents which is adopting a similar behaviour simply to conform or to be part of a group, I usually only sound like my parents ! language is fun as a potential raeder i wouldnt mind to pick up some Finish !


I would imagine something like babelfish is quie good ?



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Bloated Slutbag
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2010, 07:06:02 AM »

I'm a great disbeliever in the power of language to convey squat. Ditto music, art, porn, commercial advertizing, etc. (I'll confess I tend to get off on gaps, inconsistencies, misapprehensions, dogfarts, etc.)

I suppose it may be desirable at times to put the tools of communication to effective, functional, use. If the medium may occasionally re-present the message then I can certainly appreciate the need to rep one's quintessential tool-hood.

(Side note: as a native speaker that regularly takes indecent liberties with his own mother's tongue, I've often found my writing proof-read to the detriment of what I'd tried to convey - because the proofreader didn't get the joke. Example, "affect escape" - to affect a deluded appearance of escape* - rendered as the more syntactically solvent "effect escape". Editing effected, meaning effectively lost, me getting off on another bloated slutgap.

* the sense of "affectation" immortalized by 18th C. British humorist Henry Fielding.)
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Mr.Payne
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2011, 08:12:29 AM »

Print is a little too small. I do understand this is because of the amount of information and size of magazine.
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