Putting away the red pen

Step away from the Sharpie!

Put your hands in the air and step away from the Sharpie!

If anyone was paying attention, a month or so back I started a project in which I was going to post “a typo a day.”

While this was fun for a short time it soon got to be a chore. Where were all the typos when I wanted them? I said I wasn’t going to pick on hand-written restaurant signs, because I didn’t feel that was fair. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re doing something temporary, when there’s no time for anyone to proof their work.

I meant this to be an outside project–signs I spotted in my walks around the city–not a “what can I find online” project. There are plenty of typos online. I’m sure I could have gone to any newspaper’s website and pounced on the first error I found. But I didn’t really want to pick on newspapers, print or online. Of course they should be held to higher standards, but like the hand-written restaurant menus, news articles have a fast turn-around time. Plus (a topic for another blog) there are fewer copy editors at newspapers now. Maybe it’s my ex-news reporter bias speaking, but I have to be a little forgiving.

With the exceptions I made above, I was finding very few mistakes in permanent or professionally printed material. I found my eyes darting here and there as I took walks, looking at all the signs, seeing what choice nugget of illiteracy I could discover.

That’s no way to take a walk or enjoy my lunch hour … I was starting to feel really judgmental and petty … and my neck was hurting from looking in so many different directions!

It was time to jump this ship.

It turns out that people’s use of the English language–when it matters–really isn’t that bad. Yes, lots of people mix up “it’s” and “its” and all the other usual suspects when writing stuff online. But when they’re spending money on something that’s promoting their business or advertising some event, they want to get it right. And most of the time they do.

So, on to some other project. Something less critical, more creative. I may still post a typo from time to time if I spot one (it’ll have to be a good one). But I’m not looking for them anymore.


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