Can Language Editing be independent of Syntax and Context?
The success of a write-up depends on its readability and of course its content. Often we come across write-ups with well-edited sentences and near-flawless language. We read it start to end and still cannot make any sense of it. Why? The inability to connect the dots is akin to the inability to figure out a recipe even after lapping up the “contents” of an entire bowl. Let’s just say that your favourite mysterious food might have been palatable, but the write-up does not stand a chance.
What is syntax?
Simply put, syntax is arrangement of words to create meaning in a sentence. It is how the subject, verb and the object are arranged in a sentence.
What is context?
In a story or even a business write-up, there’s always a background or circumstance to it. That is context and it is the setting for whatever you write. Especially for business pieces, for every word and sentence to sound relevant and meaningful, it must be specific to the situation or context.
Let’s look at examples
For syntax: The salesman despised the manager. [Here, “the salesman” is the subject and “the manager” is the object of the verb “despise”. However, if you interchange the subject and the object, the sentence still reads fine because there’s no way of looking at the antecedent.]
For context: The CEO suffered a cardiac arrest and the share price fell. [First, note that one event leads to the other. Second, the two parts of the sentence are connected by the conjunction “and”.]
Independently, both the sentences read fine, but they may or may not be correct or true if we go back a sentence or two in their respective texts.
Why does the goof-up happen?
When we create content on a deadline, the finish line is where our entire concentration is! Further, as we skim through the sources of information, we start putting the pieces together. Mostly, there’s an element of hurry, which at times leads to a bunch of grammatically correct but context-blind sentences. So when you go back two sentences, you find to your utter surprise that the share price did not tumble because of the CEO, but it was the other way round!
You are not alone, even AI is bumfuzzled!
Here comes some consolation. You are not alone. Even the current generation of artificial intelligence (AI) goofs up most of the times. It knows grammar quite well, but its legs still act jelly-like when it comes to reading between the lines, or so to say context.