Cheryl Lemmens - Indexing and Editorial Services
Book Indexing • Web Site Indexing • Editing
Why everyone needs an editor
Poor American Pharoah. I mean, he had just become the first horse in 37 years to win the American Triple Crown — and all people were talking about was his misspelled name. "Pharoah" should have been "Pharaoh," but the name was submitted, and duly registered, with the incorrect spelling. When one major news source identified the colt as "American Pharaoh" — that is, with the right spelling — readers took to social media to, er, make the correction. "That poor horse's name is spelled incorrectly," tweeted one respondent plaintively, while another predicted the inevitable: "American Pharoah win ensures that Americans will never again spell pharaoh correctly."
Marsha Baumgartner, the Missouri nurse who submitted the colt's name in an online contest held by Zayat Stables in 2014, later said that she didn't remember how she spelled it. But she did check it: "I looked up the spelling before I entered," she said, although the source in which she looked it up remains unnamed. That might have been the end of it if American Pharoah had been an ordinary horse. When his career took off, however, the misspelling molehill turned into a mountain.
As reported by the New York Times, owner Ahmed Zayat's son Justin initially stated that the mistake had been made by the Jockey Club. But that august institution, more than a century old, had its own correction to make. Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Jockey Club president and CEO James L. Gagliano released a statement that read in part: "Since the name met all of the criteria for naming and was available, it was granted exactly as it was spelled." Jockey Club registar Rick Bailey confirmed it in a telephone interview, saying that there had been "no data entry on our end." In fact, once the Zayats had selected Baumgartner's name as the winning entry in their contest, they submitted it electronically to the Jockey Club as is (that is, without checking), and only realized the error when it was too late.
Now, of course, American Pharoah is the most famous horse on the planet, and not just for winning the Triple Crown. His misspelled name will go down in history alongside grammatical gaffes such as Mitt Romney's smartphone app — you know, the one that promised "a better Amercia." Surveying the damage in the wake of the Amercia incident, the Washington Post's Sandra Fish said it right at the beginning of her commentary: "Everyone needs an editor." An editor, a proofreader, someone to double-check — or maybe even triple-check — that troublesome word. Someone to say "yea" or "neigh," if you will.
At the end of the day, "Amercia" was probably a real typo, keyed in hastily in the heat of the campaign moment. "Pharoah," on the other hand, was an error that missed being corrected twice — first, before the name was entered in the contest, and second, before the name was submitted to the Jockey Club. Still, if anything, the publicity generated by this story has led to an increase in dictionary consultation; two days after the Belmont Stakes, "pharaoh" was the second-highest search term on Merriam-Webster.com. And we can all be grateful that this splendid colt was not named "Amercian Pharoah"!
My editing experience
I put this varied editing experience to work for my book publishing clients, whether working with managing or project editors or with authors themselves. Accuracy, attention to detail, and completion of projects on time are the hallmarks of my editorial work.
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