• Matthew Laight

'It was his adenoids that adenoid them.'

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

An Eulerian perspective

My last (first) post had, as its theme, a vaguely mathematical slant — odd for a proofreader’s blog I’ll grant you — even so I thought I might resume in the same vein, meander for a little bit, and then deliver us all back to safer territory.

The (very vaguely) maths bit: here I already feel the first querulous tremor of misgivings; what about the stalwarts among us? Should it be maths, math’s, or math? But then, at last count, my blog readership consisted of my wife, my son, my best friend, and an anonymous. I can therefore attest that 75 per cent of interested parties are neither American nor stalwart by nature, so I’ll stick with maths and move steadfastly on. So back to the matter at hand. I was editing a Journal of Fluid Mechanics paper this week and I came across this snippet, ‘… from a Eulerian perspective ...'. The author was describing a set of mathematical equations (the Euler equations) that describe a particular type of fluid motion, in this case around an aircraft wing.

This one jumped out of the page at me, slapped me three times across the face, and screamed ‘get your red pen out, matey’. So, a quick insert and marginal note, and I was on my way. But then I thought, I have no German or Italian, and my French is conversational only — could Euler* be interpreted as Yoo-lah? If so the indefinite article would, of course, be the correct choice, since we follow the sound in making such judgements. For my part, an engineering background made this a simple spot -- Dr. Euler has long been known to me. This small solecism made me realise how important a role phonetics play in our understanding of language, and that hearing what we read can be as vital a tool as any in the editor's pencil case. Top tip, then, read aloud!

*Euler — pronounced Oy-ler (or more precisely /ˈȯi-lər/) — was an 18th century Swiss mathematician, engineer, astronomer; you name it, he knew about it.

s his adenoids that adenoid them.' I'll leave you with that loveliness for now ...

#proofreading #editing #euler #wodehouse #mathematics #journaloffluidmechanics #jfm

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