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What Is White, Black and Red All Over? The Updated Guide to Editing Canadian English by the Editors’ Association of Canada

Barbara McClintock, C. Tr.

guide editing canadian englishTechnological trends indicate that, in the future, computers will prepare pre-translations and the role of translators will be to revise machine output. The odds are pretty good that translators’ work will shift from translation to revision or post-editing of machine translations sooner rather than later. Consequently, this might be a good time to brush up on your editing skills.

A good time to brush up on your editing skills

The Editors’ Association of Canada has launched its third version of the Guide to Editing Canadian English online or ECE3, as the project is called, which is available by subscription. You can purchase the paper version instead, but online subscribers will receive updates. You can also access it with your smartphone or tablet. For a real bargain, you can test drive it at no charge for a trial period.

The website in the colours of the Canadian flag is attractive to look at and user friendly with a good search engine. The content is well-organized and solid—you can find advice such as “pick a style and stick with it”—but the information is more limited than I expected. My hope was that the editors would publish a replacement for the old The Canadian Style, but this is unfortunately not the case because ECE3 is not a grammar book. Nevertheless, ECE3 does quote from The Canadian Style, e.g.,about the use of Montréal and Québec by the federal government in Section 11.6.1 and also makes a good case for writing Montreal and Quebec (the city) without accents.

Pick a style and stick with it

My beef is that no mention is made of Quebec City or even Québec City, which has become widely used to distinguish the city from the province. The province doesn’t take an accent in English because of its pan-Canadian significance. When faced with a number of options, pick a style and stick with it!

The third edition of Editing Canadian English addresses the following topics, among others (gleaned from the EAC website)

  • What are the differences between proofreading, copy editing, stylistic editing, and structural editing, and how do I know which role is required?
  • When is it appropriate to adapt Canadian words that an international audience might stumble over?
  • What are the biases common in Canada and how do I correct for them?
  • How do I settle on a Canadian spelling when even our dictionaries can't agree?
  • What punctuation issues are specific to Canada?
  • How do I reconcile the metric versus imperial mix that characterizes Canadian usage?
  • How do I work with French text in English documents?

It is not specified at what frequency the Editors’ Association of Canada plans to issue updates. However, at only $35.00 a year, it is worth supporting this initiative.

The opinions in this article reflect solely those of the author.

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