The Editing File: Language Oddities and Errors

Welcome to The Editing File. It’s my collection of the language oddities and errors I see in my reading, and in my work as an editor.

I will focus on just one at a time.

By avoiding them and finding creative alternatives you can improve your writing. This time next year, you might notice the difference.

# 1:  Be careful what you advertise for

If you think you want a ‘ninja’ marketer (or PR assistant or, heaven help us, a ‘ninja’ editor), then beware. This rather bizarre descriptor has become quite common in job ads. You can leave it in by all means, but I always suggest an alternative.

Personally I can’t think of anything worse.

Ninjas are traditionally nefarious undercover agents – spies basically – who are experts in dissimulation, disguise and trickery. They have ruthless singularity of purpose, a preference for isolation, and few friends.

Worse still, they tend to whizz sharp objects at you, and practise parkour around the office. Although they are extremely agile, they tend to take huge, unexpected backward leaps.

Is that what you are looking for in an employee?

Perhaps it’s the ’agile’ bit that seems attractive to 21st century job advertisers, but that’s a boring buzzword for another day. 

Advice: Explain what you really want. The best potential applicants will probably steer clear of ninja vacancies and take their skills elsewhere.

More language oddities and errors here; watch this space.

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