Y’all Need a Copy Editor

Y’all Need a Copy Editor: Chile verde isn’t red

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Here at Words Collide, we’re not into grammar nazism. We do, however, believe that if you’re a well-resourced entity running a public-facing agency, company, or brand, you cannot afford to let messy or offensive errors destroy your messaging. Y’all need a copy editor.

I’ve learned that I no longer have the time or energy to criticize everyone else’s English mistakes, and that (shocker), it usually isn’t my place to do so anyway. The human writers, and editors, among us are far from infallible at the best of times. My editorial philosophy overall is that most situations deserve gentleness and grace.

This column is different because we’ll be talking about the kinds of sloppy mistakes that can embarrass a brand, diminish a minority group, or undermine a key message. Y’all Need a Copy Editor is a pointed callout to businesses, brands, and public figures who should already know better and, if they don’t, immediately invest in the resources and relationships to help them do so. It is a place to uphold the value of employing a diverse, knowledgeable staff when one is able.

The best copy editors aren’t out there merely nitpicking spelling and grammar. They’re deploying years of expertise to help save publications, companies, nonprofits, and governments from their own hubris. It’s unsung, behind-the-scenes labor that most people will never notice until it isn’t done. 

If your organization has been releasing material with errors like this, do yourself a favor right now and hire a copy editor, pronto.

Today’s entry is below.

What’s wrong with this advertisement?

Hire a damn copy editor! Hello Fresh ad for chile verde
Hello Fresh advertisement for “chili verde.” Photo by Kate Wehr.

Why it’s wrong:
“Verde” is Spanish for “green.” Chile verde is a traditional dish made with, wait for it, green chiles and, depending on the source’s level of purism, tomatillos. And a meat (usually pork) that’s slow-cooked until it falls apart. (In unrelated news, it happens to be one of my dad’s specialties and a personal favorite.)

The dish is green. Really green. That’s why its name is literally green.

It’s not red chicken and Italian white beans, you heathens.

-Spotted in the Hello Fresh menu planning app, January 2022

Found a doozy we should see? Submit your typos, your punctuation goofs, and your befuddling cultural missteps to Y’all Need a Copy Editor here.

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