The next world language

Novelist Nury Vittachi firmly believes the next ‘world language’ will not be English. In today’s keynote address to delegates attending the 2013 IPEd national conference, Vittachi conveyed his belief that the ‘globalese’ – a fusion of English vocabulary, Asian grammar and fad terms associated with technology, commerce and savvy marketing – will be what global communities embrace as the mother tongue in the future.

His was a highly entertaining speech, filled with many examples of this ‘globalese’. Born in Sri Lanka with a writing career that has taken him to Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Vittachi is now based in Hong Kong, so there is no doubt to his first-hand experience in the new language he believes will take over the world. On arrival in the UK his first English phrase was ‘How do you do?’ which was met with puzzled and almost suspicious expressions of response from those fearing an alien invasion had commenced. Those familiar with London vocab would know that a simple ‘Whatcha?’ is sufficient when wanting to determine what someone is up to/doing.

The internet increased the confusion, and websites – one of which Vittachi was editor – popped up highlighting the differences between English and Asian phrases. It provides for a good laugh, especially when ‘Google’ in Vietnam is not a well-known internet search engine, but a well-used brand of toilet paper. Worth deeper consideration with all the crap we can find online…

Vittachi says that work for editors on an international scale, particularly in Asian countries, is abundant. While Western nations are fast moving towards an online environment with little thought for quality (and therefore the role of the editor), a study he conducted in 2005 showed that 80 per cent of Asians did not have internet and valued books and newspapers more. He says that although internet use has risen, little has changed in the way Asian nations relate to hard copy publications, and so the need for editors in these countries is huge.

Good to know. Thanks Nury, yours was an excellent way to start the conference.


New Australian editing standards launched

It’s been a long time coming (more than 10 years if I’m right), but finally the second edition of the Australian standards for editing practice has been launched.

These are the core standards professional editors should meet and form the basis of the Institute of Professional Editors’ national accreditation scheme. The first edition was released in 2001, a very positive step when I consider how long some people have been involved in the industry and what sort of pressure an absence of professional standards must have placed on them in practice. This second edition follows an extensive process of workshops and discussions between key stakeholders from which final sign off of the members of the Australian societies of editors was obtained. The IPEd Council ratified the standards in August of 2012.

For those who have been involved, it has been a long and tiring journey of which the ultimate reward is the publication of the Standards booklet. Its 25 pages do not adequately convey the determination and dedication of those involved, and today’s launch is an opportunity to not only welcome the new standards into the industry, but to publicly recognise those who have been committed to the goal of advancing the profession of editing from the very beginning.

Flying across borders

This is it!

I’m about to board a plane that will take me from one side of Australia to the other, and all in the name of ‘editing’.

In recent years I have become passionate about my profession, and I tend to jump at any opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of editing in the hope that it will make me a better one. To be able to attend the 2013 Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) national conference ‘Editing across borders’ is something I have been looking forward to for many months.

One of the things I am most looking forward to is the launch of the second edition of Australian Standards for Editing Practice. The standards set out the core skills and knowledge professional editors should either aspire to or meet. The first edition of the standards was released in 2001, and this revised edition is the culmination of work started in 2005. It will be interesting to see what things have changed.

Of course there are presentations and workshops that will make up the full conference experience, and I can’t wait to share that feedback. So wish me luck and stay tuned!

Editing across borders

The countdown is on!

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) will be holding its sixth national conference in four weeks. This year’s conference will be the first organised by the Society of Editors (WA), so Pencil First will be jetting across the country to beautiful Fremantle to take part in the event. It will be my first IPEd conference.

The conference is renowned for providing a forum for editors and communications experts to look at key issues affecting the editing industry. I am looking forward to participating in the presentations and workshops, which I hope will not only enhance my skills and explore new knowledge, but provide me with wonderful challenges as I look to advance my career.

Editing: No longer the invisible profession

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), Australia’s peak body for the editing profession, recently released results of its fourth accreditation exam, held in October 2012.

In fulfilling its objective to advance the profession of editing, IPEd manages a nationwide scheme for accrediting editors. The rigorous exam process ensures accredited editors have highly developed skills and knowledge, and have demonstrated their competency against the Australian standards for editing practice.

Following the October exam, 60 editors joined the more than 300 IPEd-accredited editors entitled to use the post-nominal ‘AE’. In congratulating the newly-accredited editors, Chair of the 2012 IPEd Accreditation Board, Robin Bennett AE says ‘Accreditation is the benchmark for editing practice in Australia. We commend you for the professionalism and dedication it takes to achieve accreditation and we know you will continue to develop your editing skills and experience’.

Editors work in many settings – including government and corporate sectors, book publishers, universities and community organisations – on all types of published materials, both hard copy and electronic. An editor’s deft touch can improve the effectiveness of books, newsletters, brochures and educational materials, advertisements, government and annual reports, and websites in reaching their target audience.

To find out more about IPEd and/or the accreditation scheme, visit

15 common words that are (probably) made up

As if reality television wasn’t bad enough, in the latest season of My Kitchen Rules there is a quirky little contestant who insists on using the word ‘inspirate’. I think this is probably her back-formation of ‘inspiration’ and an unnecessary extension to the word ‘inspire’, but either way she has made up a word. I really hope it doesn’t catch on.

Such a poor grasp on the English language got me thinking about other likely ‘made up’ words people use. If you use irregardless, firstly, administrate or undoubtably when you talk or write, then congratulations — you’re making up words. Mark Nichol of PR Daily came up with this handy list of words that a probably made up.

If any of the words on that list are familiar because you use them in your daily speak, get in touch with me here at Pencil First so I can help you communicate with your audience in a more effective and grammatically correct way.

Get ready, get set, go…!

Welcome to Pencil First – a small professional writing and editing business.

For more than five years I have worked in the publishing industry – first as a journalist/writer and now as an editor.

I am passionate about writing and editing, and strongly believe individuals and businesses can yield great success through carefully crafted words.

I have worked with organisations looking to build their brand through regular communication with the public, which has included a regular column for a local sporting association, community news for the legal industry and direct marketing material for those in the construction industry working with local government, and editing news and entertainment for a regional street press. I also work with students – editing and proofreading their assignments, giving them a greater understanding and appreciation of basic principles of the English language.

Like Ernest Hemingway, my favourite writing instrument is the pencil. When I start on a project I will always begin with a pencil, carefully constructing sentences and making editorial mark ups, until I am absolutely convinced the work is ready; that it conveys the feeling, place and emotion desired. Pencil First aims to provide quality service. Using the ‘pencil first’ approach gives you greater opportunity to convey everything to the reader, and will ensure your message doesn’t get lost in a jungle of words.