Editing of Traitor's Knot

originally posted by Oracle

Hi Janny,

I just have a quick query about Traitor's knot. I noticed that there seems to be alot more hyphenated words in this volume than I have ever seen in your books before. Many of the words that were hyphenated seemed unnecessary and actually slowed down my reading as they kept sticking out. Sorry to ask, but I was interested in what you think about this and how much input you have in the final editing process. Fantastic book by the way, it was well worth the wait!

Thankyou :smiley:

originally posted by Hannah


That's an interesting observation! I didn't even really notice. Maybe because I was too busy devouring it as quickly as possible.

Anyhow, I'll let Janny answer for herself. But maybe it had to do with it being a UK release. There are some formatting and spelling differences between UK books and US books… But, then, maybe you're in the UK anyhow, so it was normal format to you.

Oy, it's late. I've been out hunting owls all night (that's not some weird metaphor–very literal), and I can hardly type anyhow. So I'm going to stop while I'm not too far behind.

originally posted by neilw

Hmm…I might have been imagining this but, to be picky, I saw "any-one" written and thought it curious…

Traitor's Knot was strictly copyedited to follow British usage. That's why you see so many hyphenations. (any-one made me stumble too, but this was what the British editors told the copyeditor they wanted.)

The US edition for Meisha Merlin was kept in US style and form. As has been the case all through, with Roc and Harpercollins US. (I am, after all, a native and chose to write without the affectation of trying to be something else)

The British editions, in series, shift back and forth, depending who chose to pay for the copyedit, first. If the publisher took from the US text, they tended to keep the US style intact. If they engaged the copyedit, they quite naturally wanted it to match their readers' preference.

originally posted by Hunter

US English has been deliberately simplified/dumbed down from the original UK English for a variety of reasons. This meant a lot of punctuation got lost. You also get silly things like cooperation (COOP-er-ATION) rather than co-operation (co-OP-ER-ation) and syntactically incorrect spellings where the double consonants to indicate pronunciation become single. Some genius thought the second consonant was irrelevant, perhaps ignoring that the point of the double consonant was to indicate a short vowel sound, not a long sound. So you get "canceled" (which should be pronounced can-SEELED) rather than the original cancelled (can-SELL-ed). This is all courtesy of a "great" publication called the Chicago Manual of Style which dictates all of these things to save most Americans from having to learn the intricacies of the English language, which is rather full of inconsistencies and irregularities. This style guide also largely dispenses with apostrophes as being too complex and rarely understood by anyone these days. It's hard to disagree with that position but disturbing none-the-less.

Australian English follows UK English much more than US English so this dumbing down is very noticeable to me… or perhaps I'm just a pedant.

originally posted by Trys

I would point out that Noah Webster, creator and publisher of the first American dictionary took great liberties with eliminating and changing spellings in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Things like 'draft' instead of 'draught', 'theater' instead of theatre, 'color' instead of 'colour'. I find it interesting that the last two British spellings are nearly the same as the French from which they are derived.

As to canceled vs cancelled both are acceptable in American spellings.

Perhaps one of the hardest spelling things to keep straight is whether or not to double the 'l' when adding 'ing'. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

You a pedant? Hmmmm… <grin>


originally posted by Laurence J Johnson

Hello Hunter, your posting is very well crafted!

I concur with it's content!

Now on the subject of punctuation, in my opinion good punctuation adds to the flow of a story; the correct use of grammar also helps.

Cultural differences are fine, but what does ruin an otherwise good story for me, is when the author writes it fit, when what should be written is it fitted, or it fits, or it's a good fit, or a poor fit, etc., skol from Laurence.

originally posted by Miranda

I suppose all you splendid grammar buffs have read 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves'?


originally posted by Trys


Your post on proper grammar is interesting. In 11th grade (oh so many, many years ago) I had a student teacher who taught us about levels of language - Frozen, written, verbal, etc. and how each one should adhere more or less to the 'rules'. While I don't remember much of the details one thing I did learn. Language is fluid and alive. When it ceases to change it's because no one is using it (i.e., Latin) and while one generation may rail against the changes made by the next or the one after that or by a different geographical area, it is inevitable that language will change.

An interesting variation of language that occurs in the Pittsburgh area and has been attributed to German influences is the lack of 'to be' in many of our sentences. We will say something like 'Your room needs cleaned.' when the proper syntax is 'Your room needs to be cleaned.'. We've shortened the number of words required to say this. Language is alive and well in Pittsburgh. :smiley:


originally posted by Hannah

Wow, thanks Hunter! I had no idea I was such a grammatically-challenged yokel over across the Pond. I'll be sure to confer with a holy British language publication before I further pollute the Internet with this mutated 'English' that was developed over here. And here I thought we were dealing with natural evolution of a language, which never stops and is to be expected. Yes, I am silly! Taking into consideration that 'Englisc' itself is a hodgepodge of more ancient Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian, and Latin, and is obviously greatly unrecognizable from the language that would have been spoken back in the 5th century. Apparently, evolving the language is not wholly an American crime.

'Our' 'silly' 'dumbing down' should be of trifling consequence, considering that in a few centuries the whole map of the English language will be completely changed, and the point will be moot.

Yes, it really is pedantic.

originally posted by Cheryl Detmer

The only thing that bothers me reading is the ou like in colour. I don't know why that is distracting to me but it does bother me because I'm so use to reading in US language. I was surprised that wagon was spelled with two g's in a Robin Hobb UK book. I have the UK version of Traitor's Knot and I love the story and cover but I'm anxious to read it in the US spelling. It's just easier for me to read. I noticed in To Light A Candle by Mercedes Lackey, there is a lot of dashes in her books that I never noticed before. I'm relearning grammar and dashes and everything right now. lol

originally posted by Laurence J Johnson

Hello once again Hunter, this one has certainly heated the blood of our USA., friends!

Some friendly rivalry is a good laugh!

Hello Trys, yes language is constantly changing, but if the English language continues to be abbreviated, then I forsee that future generations will be reduced to communicating with clicks and grunts!

On a slightly more serious note, when my generation were in school, we were taught that it was an achievement to be articulate, we were also taught that proper punctuation and the correct use of grammar would stand us in good stead.

So my conclusion is that we are all victims of circumstance, no matter were we reside on the third rock from the sun!

By the way Trys did you receive the e-mail which I sent to you a few days ago? Skol from Laurence.

originally posted by Hunter


Language does change over time, that's true. I guess where we disagree is that I view the dumbing down of the English language in the US - and the resultant spread via cultural imperialism - as devolution of the language, not evolution. Something is being lost here, and it's not for the better. IMHO.

There are people using Latin. The ridiculous pomp and ceremony in the Vatican recently was all conducted in Latin I believe.

Laurence - getting a reaction from most US people by challenging any of their sacred cows or, perhaps, suggesting that there is someone somewhere else (in whatever passes for a country beyond US borders, even those who have electricity!) who may have actually invented something first and may just be doing something better than in the US… well, it's not that hard really…

Especially for we Australians with our rather wicked sense of humour when many of those uninitiated with the cutting nature of Australian humour can't tell the difference between what is pompous and forthright and what is a very subtle, but very real, pulling of one's leg.

originally posted by Fergus Hancock

Forgive Hunter. He was taken outside and shot.

We Australians actually love all things American - from grits to Maccas to color. At least you can pronounce 'rolocs' (a bit of English transliteration there). I find the television homogenisation of English - realitytv-speak, if you will- so objectionable, I refuse to watch anything but the government-funded channel in my country (commonly called Aunty, and frequently objected to by the government of the day…I suppose she is a bit too "anti-American" for some). I actually enjoy listening to some attempts at real Australian accents, unlike the twaddle our cousins are subjected to on popular tv.

Otherwise, English has now come to sound so much like Newspeak, I wonder who really is Big Brother.

originally posted by Hunter

"We Australians actually love all things American" - Whose this "we"… ??

"from grits" - yuk (I think this is fried, diced potato thing eaten for breakfast right?)
"to Maccas" - Super Size Me Baby…
" to color." - It should have a "u" in it… it's at least something to support the French in…

Governments hate our ABC because it's way too lefty for the conservatives but refused to become the mouthpiece of the union movement when Labor were in office. I have pay TV… Commercial TV stinks in Australia.

originally posted by Fergus Hancock

Hunter… tongue in cheek!!

I am NOT "anti-American" (though I have been accused of being one). The pop culture swamp we inhabit is our own fault, surely. If that's what the vox populi wants, then that's what it gets!

If all Americans and their works are to be damned, then where will we put 'our' Janny?

And I am an avid ABC and SBS watcher (Aunty and Hairy Armpits to youse foreigners).

originally posted by Hunter

I too am not anti-American. The world would be a very dull place without them to keep us amused. There would be no Simpsons or South Park for example. In talking about stereotypes and nations in general, one does not automatically mean all without exclusion. You have to pick the diamonds from the dross… And Janny is certainly of the former.

Speaking of the SBS, did you watch the start of the new series of Pizza last night?

Pizza is about a pizza shop called Fat Pizza that sets out to truly offend as many racial, gender and any remaining stereotypes as possible. And it is very, very funny…

originally posted by Oracle

Thanks for the reply Janny!

The reason I asked is that I live in Australia and am an editor myself. I find it interesting it was the UK copyeditor who chose to punctuate in the manner they did… I have always been of the impression that Australian English closely followed UK English but now see that perhaps there is more deviation than I thought. I utilise the Australian Style Manual for Authors, Editors and printers in my work, and the tendency is to use Plain English otherwise known as the 'KISS' principle, or, 'keep it simple, stupid!'I had never noticed this in any of your previous editions, so I am presuming that your publishers have changed their house style for the Australian market.

Thankyou again for your reply, I also had a hard time with seeing any-one, not to mention country-side, carriage-way, table-tops, bone-knife, small-clothes, floor-boards etc… Janny I have read every one of your novels from the time of your first release with the Empire series and am always amazed and entralled by your talent. As such, I will always purchase your books but please, please could you beg the UK editor to ease up on the hyphens for Stormed Fortress?? (ha ha)

Best regards :smiley:

originally posted by Oracle

I have just noticed something whilst looking at another part of the board… The release date for Traitor's knot is said to be May 2005 due to delays, but I got my copy as soon as it came out last year??? It was published by Voyager in 2004. Does this mean there is another version of the edition I have missed out on?? I'll cry if I have!

originally posted by Hunter

US release is May 2005. Australian/UK release was Nov 2004.

US release has a different cover and will have an appendix and some other background material…

So I believe.