LINGUIST List 7.631

Tue Apr 30 1996

Disc: Value of Editing vs. Research

Editor for this issue: Annemarie Valdez <>


  1. Deborah D K Ruuskanen, Re: 7.627, Disc: Value of editing vs. research

Message 1: Re: 7.627, Disc: Value of editing vs. research

Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 12:48:23 +0300
From: Deborah D K Ruuskanen <>
Subject: Re: 7.627, Disc: Value of editing vs. research
This is a very important discussion affecting nearly everyone
who publishes in English or whose work is translated, but because
it is about translation it will probably receive as much attention
as the hairdresser's art. For some reason translation seems to be
undervalued by those not actually engaged in it (clients often say
"I'd do it myself if I had the time") and the art of editing a 
translated text, which is much more difficult, witness the fact
that translation "checkers" or "inspectors" get paid more than 
translators in the EU - editing is given even less value, as if it
were no more than proofreading. HOWEVER, there is an organization,
called the Council of Biology Editors, or CBE for short, which is
composed of editors of journals and "author's-editors" (which is
what CHANDLER-BURNS evidently means by TPE, or translator-pre-editor). 
CBE has published a handbook for scientific publication, and the 
so-called CBE Rules (previously also known as the Vancouver Rules)
are now the standard in over 4000, that's four thousand, journals
that publish in English, and are the standard for some international
publishing houses. The point re the present discussion is that the
CBE has discussed for years the morality of scientists presenting as
their own work a text which is in fact the work of another person. 
Ghost translators and editors, as it were. The scientist then gets
tenure or promotion on the basis of these published works, while the
author's-editor or the translator is not even allowed to list them in
their bibliography, and as CHANDLER-BURNS pointed out is often (more
often than not) left completely out of the acknowledgements. Personally
I have watched while a pure theorist was given a post to teach
translation while I (a professional translator and author's-editor
of some 15 yrs standing) was not considered because I do not yet have
a PhD (too busy translating) and my bibliography of published works
was less than half that of the successful candidate because none of 
my translations were considered, let alone the works I completely 
rewrote from the original Finglish or Franglais. It is encouraging
that CHANDLER-BURNS works in an institution that allows being listed
in the acknowledgements to count toward tenure and promotion. I would
go even further and say we should be listed as co-authors in those 
cases where not even one word of the published text is that of the 
scientist who collected the data and designed the study. 
Regarding the practice of simply looking at the postmark and sending
back work by scientists from non-English-speaking countries, I am in
complete agreement with CHANDLER-BURNS. I myself send very sharp
letters to editors who return my work to the scientist with whom I
have collaborated, because it "needs to be checked by a native speaker
of English". What if that "native-speaker" knows zilch nada niente
nothing about the topic and cannot spot preposition errors as a result,
or those native-speakers who are not good writers in English themselves?
This practice of returning work without reading it reflects upon my
professional standing and, while granted it gives the editors more time,
shows a real professional if not personal laziness (not to mention
linguistic chauvinism and prejudice) on the part of the editor.
	DK Ruuskanen
PS - I will be glad to send a copy of my article "There is no such
thing as a language "checker" to anyone who is interested. See also
my article on author's editors in the Georgetown U. "Jerome" - copies
supplied on request.
Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen \ You cannot teach a Man anything,
Leankuja 1, FIN-01420 Vantaa \ you can only help him find it \ within himself. Galileo
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