by Teresa Kline '13
Despite what I thought in elementary school, our teachers and professors do not live in the classroom. It may come as a surprise that our professors were students once, too. Really. If you don’t believe me, go ask one.
I talked with Professor Cable in the Anthropology Department about some of her writing experiences and pet peeves as an undergraduate. Back then, when, according to Professor Cable, they still carved their assignments in stone, she had a professor who wouldn’t let her use the word “there.” Although she found it frustrating at the time, she realized he was right because in most instances “there” is pretty vague.
Professor Cable says proofreading is extremely important because it is “mortifying” to hit send on an email and realize you’ve used the wrong spelling of “your.” For issues like this, she says spell check “is not your friend” because it won’t catch the misuse of loose and lose, or there, their, and they’re. She told me about an application for graduate school which she had dropped off before realizing she had misspelled anthropology by leaving out the final “o"--pretty much any applicant's nightmare. She raced back with another copy and was able to replace the incorrect version.
Professor Cable says her writing has come a long way, and there are a few things that make her “cringe” to remember. While writing for an encyclopedia right after college, for example, she admitted to using an extremely clichéd phrase: “shrouded in the mists of time.” It just goes to show, our professors were in our shoes once, still learning to write polished, academic prose. And if they can do it, so can we.