MET workshops

An introduction to editing non-native English for application to different types of text

What does editing entail? When asked to correct or edit a text written by a non-native speaker of English, what options are open to the language professional? What’s the difference between this work and editing native English? What are the characteristics of non-native-English texts? What triggers the editorial changes made to such texts, and why? This workshop sets out to answer these questions and by so doing to impart, consolidate and improve the skills needed when correcting and editing non-native English texts.

Developer and facilitator: Joy Burrough-Boenisch

Purpose: To position the editing of non-native English in relation to regular text editing. To equip beginning and more experienced language professionals with editing insights and vocabulary that enable them to describe and explain the changes they make to texts written by non-native speakers of English.

Description/structure: Our starting point is text editing in general, beginning with the connotation of “editing” and the terminology used to describe the processing of text. We will consider editing along two axes: horizontally, as a time sequence from authorship to publication, and then vertically, in terms of increasing intervention in a text. Next we will examine the generic traits of non-native texts and the reasons for them. We will then apply the resulting insights in exercises to identify and describe errors and to analyse the editing a text requires. The texts for editing will be general rather than specialist, but there will be scope for discussing text types that attendees are most familiar with.

Who should attend? Translators, other language professionals, scientists or academics, who wish to branch out into or are already engaged in the editing of non-native English.

Outcomes: An understanding of the types of editing that can be applied to texts written by non-native speakers of English. Knowledge of how the shortcomings in such texts can be described and how editorial changes can be justified. For more experienced language professionals: greater awareness of the levels at which they intervene in text and the motives for their editorial changes.

Pre-workshop information: Attendees will be invited to submit a short sample text (maximum 500 words) in their local variety of non-native English. If possible, attendees should bring a laptop to the workshop.

About the facilitator:

Joy Burrough-Boenisch, based in the Netherlands, is an authors’ editor and translator for Dutch academics and scientists; she also teaches scientific English to biomedical PhD students. Originally a geographer, she learnt to edit in Sabah (Malaysia) and Australia and has worked as an in-house and freelance copyeditor. Apart from a recent interlude in Oxfordshire, she has lived in the Netherlands since 1976. Her interest in second language interference and non-native English led her to help found the Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors in the Netherlands and to do a PhD in applied linguistics, on Dutch scientific English. The most recent of her many academic and professional publications are her contributions to the book Supporting Research Writing: Roles and challenges in multilingual settings, which is edited by Valerie Matarese and is due to be published by Chandos in 2012.