Misnegation dis-publication

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Monique Friedlander, "'It's a nightmare and not something anyone wants to happen!' Roxy Jacenko reveals the fatal error which forced her to scrap new book", Daily Mail 11/18/2018:

Roxy Jacenko's fourth literary work, Roxy's Little Black Book of Tips & Tricks is set to hit shelves in less than two weeks.

But the 38-year-old suffered a less-than-ideal set-back in recent months thanks to a rather unfortunate typo that appeared in the book's first print-run.

According to The Daily Telegraph on Sunday, a quote by KIIS FM's Jackie 'O' Henderson was misprinted to read, 'Roxy never fails to disappoint…', rather than: 'Roxy never fails to deliver.'

'Without question it's a nightmare and not something anyone wants to happen,' Roxy told the publication, claiming that six proofreaders from publisher Allen & Unwin managed to miss the error before the book went to print.

Six proofreaders? Anyhow, perhaps we should say that they didn't fail to miss it.

More from Stan Carey at Sentence First: "Misnegation should not be overestimated, I mean underestimated".


  1. Victor Mair said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 9:34 am

    That doesn't look like a misprint to me. It looks like miswriting.

  2. D.O. said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 10:28 am

    Exactly. This "wardrobe malfunction" couldn't be caught by a proofreader because there is nothing wrong with the expression. Now, if the publisher employed a "making sense reader"… I guess, that should be an editor's job? Or proofreaders are supposed to check the text for substantive part as well?

  3. Robert Coren said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 10:51 am

    Really? Allen & Unwin even has six proofreaders? I'm surprised to learn that there are that many still employed worldwide.

    Also: "set-back" (with a hyphen)? That's not standard, is it?

  4. Trogluddite said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 11:48 am

    @Robert Coren said; "set-back" (with a hyphen)? That's not standard, it it?

    Maybe the hyphen is only used when describing "ideal" setbacks rather than "less-than-ideal" ones? ;-)

  5. Trogluddite said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

    ^^…or the reverse of that, which is, of course, what I intended to write. D'oh!

  6. Vicki said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

    I wonder what an "ideal" setback would look like (something in architecture or landscape design, maybe?).

    @D.O. — That depends on how strictly "proofreader" is meant. I still get the very occasional job where they want me to check word-by-word, even character-by-character, that the typeset document or ready-to-post PDF matches the manuscript. But more often they're looking for copyediting, on any level from just marking if a word is repeated that shouldn't be ("I went to to the store") to grammar and sanity checking.

    Depending on the client who says they want a copyeditor, I may refer to it as "proofreading/copyediting you're looking for" to make sure that what they're asking for is actually what they want.

    So it's entirely possible that one or more of the "proofreaders" mentioned there was actually a copyeditor.

    At one place where I was on staff, I had someone bring me the proofs of just the front and back covers of a conference proceedings, and ask me to look it over for things like misspelled author names or odd omissions.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

    I was asked to proof-read a single-threaded transcription of a four-part Latin score within the last week, so proof-reading is alive and well in some parts of the world …

  8. Terry Hunt said,

    November 18, 2018 @ 4:23 pm

    In my past experience at a not dissimilar publisher (John Murray, when they were still independent), proofreading was just one of several of the tasks performed by various of the editorial staff who work on a book, in addition to the printers and authors, so plausibly half-a-dozen different people might copyedit and proofread at various stages, but none of them would be purely proofreaders only.

    As a 'desk editor' I was responsible for copyediting manuscripts (literally handwritten as well as typewritten material), fact checking, casting off, proofreading (paper) galleys, designing layouts, researching pictures, commissioning illustrations, caption writing, checking and amending camera-ready pages, and checking (film) production proofs: other colleagues would variously cross-check some of these tasks.

    However, cover and other publicity-related material rather than the main text of a book tends to be delivered and set at a fairly late stage of the production process, so might well only be checked by one or two people. I agree with Prof. Mair that the offending phrase sounds much more like mis-writing by the quotee rather than an actual printing error, so strict proofreading would not have caught it. Still a dropped catch, though.

  9. Rachael Churchill said,

    November 19, 2018 @ 5:42 am

    I was recently hired to proofread (as in check the final proofs of) a manuscript that was being published by a well-known publishing house (although I was hired by the author, not the publishing house). The manuscript had already been through several copy-editors. I found and flagged dozens of glaring factual and linguistic errors that the previous editors had missed. (Genuine linguistic errors like "tenants" for "tenets", not silly bugbears like split infinitives.)

    I would consider a proofreader who didn't catch those things because they weren't strictly proofreading to be a bit of a jobsworth.

  10. David Morris said,

    November 19, 2018 @ 5:56 am

    This book won't fail to disappoint me, because I won't fail to avoid ever reading it.

  11. Francis Boyle said,

    November 19, 2018 @ 7:19 am

    It will however not to fail to disappoint its readers if it turns out to be true to its marketing as a "no bullshit" guide to PR.

  12. outeast said,

    November 20, 2018 @ 12:45 am

    As Terry Hunt suggests, "six proofreaders" would probably include a variety of editors giving it a once-over – though in my limited experience, a cover would be more likely to be passed around more people, not fewer. (Contra D.O., proofreaders certainly do more than checking for spelling. A spellchecker does that; a proofreader is looking for what a spellchecker can't catch.)

    The biggest danger in proofreading is mistakes / peculiarities that look and feel like natural, correct writing, especially in contexts where they read as stock formulas. Evidently misnegations are so commonplace (as often demonstrated on LL) that they easily escape notice.

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