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Question:

H
ow many errors are there in the following sentence?

The data suggests the following; the burial site is orientated east-west and it's date is late Medieval.

It is almost proverbial in archaeology: the work is not finished until it has been written up. True as this may be, it can be argued with equal force that the process of writing up is not finished until the text has been edited. Sadly, this final and crucial phase is all too often neglected. Not everyone can write well, but that does not absolve archaeologists from every writer's duty: to ensure that the text is well organised and written in correct and lucid English.

Relying on spell-checkers will not do: in the above sentence, the only error the spell-checker detected was it's. There are in fact five errors: data is a plural, not a singular. An announcement is indicated by a colon, not a semi-colon. Orientated does not exist - the verb is 'to orient', not 'to orientate'. A possessive is indicated by 'its', not it's, which is a contraction of 'it is'. Finally, the period of jousting knights is the medieval period, not Medieval.

Fine Line is a professional language services agency specialising in archaeology. Offering copy-editing and proofreading services for all your books, reports, monographs, brochures, articles, web texts, etc., it is unique and long overdue in the archaeological world.

Fine Line: where Stonehenge meets Dutch Bronze Age barrows, Neolithic Lineair Bandkeramiek pottery and the Middle Palaeolithic refit from Maastricht-Belvédère. Photos Keith and Myra Wilkinson
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