Tag Archives: Liberal arts

Soporific Jargon

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love my work. I get paid to read, and correct errors, two activities dear to my Virgo heart. And I have chosen and succeeded in the niche of scholarly book editing, so I get to read lots of interesting stuff that would never cross my path otherwise.

Once in awhile, however, I’m a little over my head, content-wise, although I had what I consider a strong liberal arts education: I studied several languages, history, art, literature, as well as a variety of hard and soft sciences.

One of my current projects is a book about the meaning, construction, and dissemination of contemporary cultural icons. Which is fascinating, of course — yet when liberally peppered with concepts of semiotics and hermeneutics, I start losing the ability to really follow the text as I edit. I can correct for spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc., but don’t ask me to edit for meaning! (And, luckily, I’m not expected to.)

To give you a little idea of this experience (because I know you’re all so fascinated by all this), here’s the list of words I’ve corrected for spelling, hyphenation, etc. in this book so far:

antiapartheid
antihero
antistructuralist
Bildungsroman
cœur
hyperreal
intersemiotic
Logos
nonlinguistic
Peirceian
postmodern
poststructuralist
Salt ‘n Pepa
sans
Soviet
threefold
transdisciplinary
West, Western (as in culture or society)

Whoo nelly. Luckily most of this dense theoretical stuff has been confined to the introduction, and the next few chapters have been interesting — one on Nelson Mandela and one on the Little Mermaid!

The last project I did was on anthropology and climate change, and the one before that was on social security created by religious networks. So, I’m usually fascinated … until the jargon makes me sleepy.

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