October 07, 2004

Sign of the Apocalypse. Or Poor Grammar. Whatever.

Saw this lovely little sign on the side of a beat-up panel truck this a.m.:

Rick's Repair's

So whose is it? Rick's or Repair's?

Ever since I finished Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I see this stuff everywhere.

And my inner English major sheds bitter, bitter tears.

UPDATE: From Naomi's comment and a story forwarded to me by reader Meisha, the immortal words of an artist who created a library mural (irony alert) fraught with misspellings:

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

Congratulations, your work is successful! We're all united in thinking that you can't spell Shakespeare! She adds the following Deep Thoughts In Defense of Illiteracy:

"The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."

BLAKE? William Blake? Is there some other Blake I'm unfamiliar with that she's invoking here? Because the William Blake I studied never confused creative enlightenment with "freedom from proofreading." And he always managed to spell Albion correctly...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at October 7, 2004 02:52 PM

So whose is it? It's Rick's Repair's truck.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at October 7, 2004 05:43 PM

To feel even worse, read this:


"It didnít take a nuclear physicist to realise changes were needed after a £25,000 ceramic mural was unveiled outside the cityís new library and everyone could see the misspelled names of Einstein, Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and seven other historical figures."

Posted by: Naomi at October 7, 2004 07:55 PM

In high school, I had an English teacher who refused to shop at any store that had grammatical errors on any of its signs... Unfortunately, she found that meant she couldn't do much shopping...

She now just carries a red (not purple) pen and corrects the errors...

Posted by: Zach at October 7, 2004 09:03 PM

Egg's 0.98c/doz.

As my kid points out, that's one cheap egg.

Posted by: Laura at October 7, 2004 10:24 PM

The New Yorker maintains that your book has tons of grammatical errors and plenty of incorrect information. What say you? (I haven't read it, but want to).

Posted by: Belle at October 7, 2004 10:51 PM

The New Yorker is probably just pissy that they didn't publish the book first. She does use English (as in British) grammar rules that we here in the States would find bizarre sometimes, but that doesn't make it incorrect. British, yes, but incorrect, not so much.

Of course, true grammar nerds just luuurrve to argue about semicolons, so who knows? Perhaps there is an underground punctuation war blazing and it has now erupted into The New Yorker.

You can borrow my copy if you'd like.

Posted by: BAW at October 8, 2004 08:49 AM

James Thurber reported that his boss New Yorker editor Harold Ross inserted a comma after ``her'' in ``He saw her but a moment'' to avoid misunderstanding.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at October 8, 2004 10:56 AM

Blake couldn't get ``tiger'' right. Iota in Greek, not upsilon, so it's not even a physis vs phusis thing.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at October 8, 2004 11:05 AM

Lynne Truss rocks! She managed to convinced me that the British way of handling punctuation around end-quotation marks (basically, if it belongs to the phrase quoted, it goes inside; if not, outside) makes more sense than our shove-it-all-in-and-end-the-sentence-with-the-quote system.

And some of her anecdotal examples are priceless, especially the three-plus pages on apostrophes. My favorite is the graffito someone spotted in NY: "N*****'s Out!" Below which someone else had written, "But he'll be back shortly." Tee-hee!

Posted by: Michelle Dulak at October 8, 2004 12:10 PM

Aaack, I see I didn't change my name in the "personal info." Sorry.

We're all united in thinking that you can't spell Shakespeare!

Well, to be fair, Shakespeare didn't always spell it "Shakespeare" either, at least not when he signed it. But "Eistein"? "Van Gough"? "Gaugan"? "Thesues"? Yeesh.

I used to walk past a mural on my way to work in San Francisco's Mission District that was meant to promote early education of minority children. A Latino child is holding a book with "Ceasar [sic] Chavez" on the cover. Sad.

Posted by: Michelle Dulak Thomson at October 8, 2004 12:21 PM

Just want to add my 2 cents about the "artist's" comments.

The whole "words register correctly" arguement drives me nuts cuz I'm one of those people who sees an entire word as a complete symbol instead of a series of letters.

So, I'd be looking at her misspellings and wondering what the heck she meant cuz she used the wrong symbols.

I'm betting she went to one of those schools where the teachers don't correct spelling errors because it can damage a child's self-esteem.


Posted by: di at October 8, 2004 01:38 PM

I've received, in two separate situations, advertisements from booksellers that were ungrammatical or had a horrible neologism in them.

One of them made the It's/its mistake, which makes me tear out my hair.

The other one offered up its new book to me, saying it would add "currentness" to my classes.

I have a 'wall of shame' on my office door, of which both of those adverts are charter members.

(No, I don't do it with student papers; I'm sure that could get me in trouble. But when a publisher does it - well, I figure they're fair game).

Posted by: ricki at October 8, 2004 02:09 PM

Sigh...this is the public library in my hometown. My sister told me about this when the mural was first unveiled a couple of months ago. "Allowing" the city to fly her out to fix it is a new development--at first she refused flat-out to change anything at all.

Posted by: Alison Ganze at October 8, 2004 08:56 PM

I read this story on Friday somewhere else. Didn't she also try and blame onlookers while she was working for not pointing out her errors?

Posted by: Emily at October 11, 2004 12:13 PM

I confess that while writing posts for my blog, for some reason, I hesitate to check the grammar, which I would not do in my print writing.

Posted by: JThomas at October 20, 2004 08:49 AM