Avi Staiman

Oct 21, 2021

Editing Scholarly Writing

A Discussion with Avi Staiman of "Academic Language Experts"

New Books Network 2021

Listen to this interview of Avi Staiman, who is CEO, founder, and director of Academic Language Experts. We talk about how complex and how simple editing is.

Avi Staiman : "Let me give you an example of where the editing is not about the vocabulary available or the construction of the sentences. Japanese. Japanese academic writing tends to be two things. Number one, it's very repetitive, and this is done to place emphasis on key ideas, which is not something that you see in English writing as much. And secondly, in a lot of Japanese texts, the writing is suggestive. So, if in a typical article in English the author will write, 'We have found X, Y, and Z,' in Japanese they may write something along the lines of 'Our humble suggestion is the following...' That might come across to an English reader as a lack of confidence. The reviewer might say, 'They don't actually know.' But of course, that's not it, because in Japanese academic culture there's a level of humility that's a value there, which for good or for bad, does not exist in English academic culture. So, then, we face this question: Either we render it in a way which the English reviewer will appreciate and understand and know what to do with but at the same time betray the source text, or we honor the source text but maybe reduce the chances that the scholar is going to get accepted because it's nonstandard. So, these are really difficult questions. I think the answer is simple, and that is, really, open lines of communication with the author and laying out these issues. Which is why, when I speak to prospective clients, I tell them that getting the right academic translator or right academic editor is about a lot more than their knowledge of the language. That's the basis. But they need to understand what academic writing is, they need to understand the specific field, and they also need to understand the cultural nuances and differences between different countries and different fields."

The next event on the Publication Success Interview Series.

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