When you’re a crabby bugger who likes to moan at things, you should consider yourself very fortunate to live in England. There is so much to moan about; from the important to the trivial.
I freely admit that my frequent gripes about bad spelling, grammar and punctuation all sit very definitely in the “trivial” end of that scale. After all, they hardly compare against the very important gripes such as the state of the NHS, rocketing unemployment or the continued existence of Janet Street-Porter.
But it’s my blog, and I’ll moan about whatever I like.
People’s inability to know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, “there” and “their”, “were” and “we’re” or the correct use of apostrophes infuriates me beyond reason. Certainly more than any sane person would allow. I have moaned about it for years. I moaned about it BEFORE it became popular to do so (when “Eats shoots and leaves” was published) and I’ll sure as hell be moaning about it long-after everyone has become sick of the topic and moved on.
I am usually able to control myself when it comes to e-mails, text messages or Facebook; status updates are hardly great literary works, and to insist on correcting someone on such a triviality reveals you to be the friendless pratt you are. But it REALLY bothers me when I see mistakes on posters, magazines, letterheads, signs, shopfronts … text that is rather more permanent and should have had a bit of time taken over it when designed.
For example … here is a sign I walk past on quite a regular basis:
Gah! It taunts me! Every time I see it! It says “Look! I’m shiny, built to last, and commissioned by an idiot!”
This sign wasn’t “knocked-up” with Microsoft Word. It doesn’t involve the crime-against-humanity that is Comic Sans. It isn’t advertising the village summer fete, and it doesn’t use a line of exclamation marks to bolster any self-importance. This sign has had real money spent on it, and is supposed to be permanent. So why did no-one proof read it first?
To create a successful business it helps if you fill a gap in the market – to provide a service beyond that of your competitors. So here’s my idea for a business: a business stationery, poster-design or signwriter who will actually proofread your submission before going into production! I even have an awesome slogan: “Oddbloke Printing Service: We proofread your shit so that you don’t look like total cowboys.”
The irony would not be lost on me if I were to make such a mistake in this blog entry.
To finish, I’ll leave you with this cartoon I first saw some years ago. I respectfully submit that any English teacher reading this could do far worse than to print it out a thousand times and hand it out to all students. Help stamp this out before it goes any further.
Bob’s Quick Guide to the Apostrophe is by the fabulous cartoonist Stephen Notley. There’s a monochrome version here if you find the colour one difficult to read. Have a look here if you’d like to buy a lovely poster.