Project Gutenberg: First 100 pages

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I’ve recently joined the ranks of proofreaders for the free library of classics, Project Gutenberg. Today I proofread my hundredth page at Distributed Proofreaders. So far, the books I’ve worked on include:

An old gardening/horticulture guide;
A book of myth(s) translated to English from Sanskrit;
A collection of short stories by Gustave Flaubert (in French);
A book by Paul Bourget (in French);
A text on philosophy of linguistics (with some tricksy German footnotes);

and a couple of others. I’m quite enjoying it, actually, especially the practice in French.

I even learned a ‘rule’ about writing in French that I didn’t know before: do not put accents on capital letters, even though they may belong in the lowercase. I put a note by the phrase “A la cour” asking if it ought not be À — the ‘a’ avec un accent grave that means “to” or “at”, as opposed to sans accent, which means “has.” Well. I was wrong. I had the intended word right, but apparently there is a tradition in French writing whereby it is virtually criminal to put an accent on a majuscule, a capital letter.

Proofreading also gives me something valuable to do with downtime at work. Sitting at the front desk means a variable level of busy-ness, ranging from absolutely nothing to do, and the phones might as well be dead, to six people walking in all at once, calling with both phone lines busy, asking about programs or whether the computer lab is reserved for a group, while I try to enter data from twelve new seasonal crew applicants and respond to the finance department’s email complaining that they don’t have any expense request for that such-and-such from the last supply order. You know, the one that I sent them two weeks ago. Well, when it’s an “absolutely nothing” time, it’s nice to have something to do better than browse Facebook, and I needn’t feel like a slacker because there’s really no work to do at that moment.

Well, anyway, I’m enjoying it, and if you think you might too, you should think about volunteering a little time. DP is in pretty desperate need of more experienced proofreaders — the later stages of proofreading can have backlogs of a year or more. And how are they going to get experienced proofers but by getting new proofers who stay on with them, and who stay active?

I’ll be able to move on to doing second-round proofing and first-round formatting once I’ve done another 200 pages of first-round proofing and it’s been three weeks since I joined. After that, 50 pages of round two proofing and 50 pages of round one formatting and I’ll be able to dig into some round three proofing, which is where the major backlog lies in wait.

I’ll get there, don’t you worry. 😎


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