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July 25, 2008

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Wait. Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams are two different people?

Actually, do read it if you have time. The difference in wording makes all the difference to the joke. It is not just noshing as in eating food...

Yes, read the column (it's not that long), then you can say whether or not he has a point. And he does. I'm 100% on his side.

As a journalist who has also done lots of subbing over the years I can see both sides of this - some journos aren't actually great writers, some subs are not very sensitive in their surgery/butchery. Coren obviously has a point (although I'm not sure that most of his readers will have come away thinking 'Ah, if only he'd put an 'a' in there how much better it would have been' - myself included) but loses my sympathy for the outrageous and hysterical language in which he makes his point. The sub did not slaughter his family. It just makes Coren look like a prima donna (and let's face it, while he's not a bad writer, he's no Murakami, he's not even Alan Coren. He's reviewing a restaurant here, not penning an awardwinning poem or reporting back from a front line). The B(R)yan Adams mistake is truly terrible since the sub went so far as to check with you (which most don't) and then disregard your answer.

Or is it just a joke? He seems such a nice chap on television.

The way someone expresses their unhappiness about something shouldn't be used against them. What sounds 'outrageous and hysterical' to someone may be 'restrained' to someone else.

If someone says 'Relax!' or 'You'll live' to me (which is, in effect, what you are doing, Alex), I want to bite them. Who says what one should be angry about and in what way?

I am one of those readers who *would* come away thinking the addition of an 'a' before 'nosh' would make more sense. What the 'unaware' reader thinks of a piece is irrelevant to the writer. The writer writes as best he can, and that should be respected.

I am a sub-editor and yet I am entirely on Coren's side.

Every author I have ever worked with has expressed themselves with exactly this level of outrage when faced with what they felt was ignorant copy-editing, mine or someone else's. Plus or minus the swearing but, hey, that's only language. The whole point of my job is NOT to do something that would get this reaction, but, the thankfully few times I've been on the receiving end, I've always understood the depth of the fury.

And the lost pun apart, some people have an ear for rhythm and some don't, and if you don't you shouldn't be a sub. Authors have a right to expect their mistakes to be caught, their grammar corrected and their writing to be improved if necessary, and left alone if not.

I'm with you, Lulu. I'm a sub, too, and Coren has a right to be angry. Perhaps not incensed and abusive (pace Bela), but certainly he has a cause for complaint. But perhaps, at other times, the subs have saved his arse. Some are more awake than others. And in my experience, the prima donnas who shout at you are usually the worst writers, and the least likely to thank you when you save them from themselves. So, fine, let's print Coren unedited and see what he's really made of.

Surely this is all just a strum in a tin cap and will blowover soon.

I'm with Coren, too. He's employed to write because he knows how to write.
I'm afraid a lot of subs (and thankfully there are some exceptions, but sadly not too many) simply don't understand language in the way journalists do.
Nowadays, on a lot of papers and mags, they do less fact-checking, probably couldn't even spell libel (let alone understand the law relating to it) and don't do much design or layout.
I fear their days might be numbered.
Apologies if there are any typos in this (perhaps I need a sub!)

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