Why should editors be thinking about and using conscious language? [shared post]

03 Nov
Why should editors be thinking about and using conscious language? [shared post]

Today I’m sharing what is the best explanation I’ve seen of the need for editors to be aware of conscious language. I’m a non-fiction editor and Louise Harnby edits fiction but the principles remain the same.

In her article, Louise Harnby covers:

  • What is ‘conscious language’?
  • ‘But I’m not part of the “woke” brigade’
  • The foundations of editing
  • Are you part of the professional editing brigade?
  • Why conscious language is also about successful authoring
  • Why conscious language is about consideration rather than prescription
  • A case study
  • Helping our clients
  • Tools that help with conscious language

Read the rest of the article here.

This is such an important topic. I’ve been using “singular they” for a long time, and other aspects I’ve covered in my editing include not gendering people when they’re mentioned as examples in texts, working to eliminate terms in networking which are now outdated and pejorative and suggesting different terms for ones which are now considered pejorative in an ablist context.

As Louise mentions, as professional editors, we’re aiming to help our authors reach as wide an audience as possible, and if they risk alienating portions of that audience through the use of language that can be avoided, it’s our job to help them not do so.


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