That matter of handling grammar, etc., from non-English speakers is one I initially tackled in one very direct way but then decided to back off on. At least in terms of Medium. Why? Because the audience here is growing in that non-English-speaking realm and editors need, somehow, to become responsive to it.

How to be responsive sensitively without being “racist” is the question. How to do so without allowing the English language to become a fully secondary matter in the end is another question.

However, on Medium, you are never going to have a fully fleshed-out discussion of this issue. Because it is Medium and such things get pushed aside for the sake of whatever is deemed “politically correct.”

Much the same happened when people began utilizing Black English in their writing, even those who were not Black. There was no way to stop people from doing it because it was considered “appropriate usage.” Under the terms of “political correctness.”

To question what is considered “politically correct” around here is to lose your standing. Immediately. You don’t want to do that. You will lose followers, readers, jobs, friends. Money. Period. It isn’t worth that much of your integrity.

Or perhaps it is.

In some instances it may be. You have to be the judge as an editor.

My position as an editor (and this is the first time, now, that I have been an editor on Medium) has always been to ASK the writer what the intention is. Perhaps the “mistake” I see isn’t a mistake at all. Or perhaps it was some subconscious error that the writer made with an ulterior motive. Art works this way at times.

It helps the more familiar you are with a writer’s work. I had a situation recently where I saw a young woman’s poem and came across a comma that struck me as simply outrageous rhythmically. But I had been reading her poetry for almost five years. I knew her writing. So I asked her, did she actually intend this? On the other hand, the poem itself was ABOUT disruptions, so I proposed to her that perhaps it may have been unintentional but accidental, subconscious. Instead, she simply removed the comma. Case closed. Rhythm rescued. It is that simple at times.

I think as long as you are courteous, and you are that, and you make it clear that what you ask for is not a demand in a case like the one we are discussing but a proposal or a request about intention, you have nothing to concern yourself about. If the writer does not understand that she is writing in an English language publication, that is on her. If writers (like myself most times!) don’t bother reading the guidelines in detail, that, too, is on them.

Relationships between writers and editors are supposed to be cordial and cooperative. Both are supposed to understand that. But when either is new to the game, it may take time for them to learn how to proceed. Writers especially. Writers on the internet even moreso. Editors, therefore, have to be more patient, I assume. But that does not mean giving up their responsibilities entirely.

I hope.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store