Friday, March 14, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicals

The March 14 date of this posting is a lie.  I started it way back then, but actually finished and posted it today, March 31.

Yes, I know how to spell Chronicles but our local cinema sure doesn't.  That misspelling up there is displayed on the South Sound Cinema What's Playing sign.  I get to see it twice a day and I wince every time.  Port Orchard business signs are a blighted bunch, as evidenced by the following messages exhibited over the past year (not, by any means, a complete list):

Thank You, Port Orcherd
Under "New" Management
Come in for a "special" deal

As indicated in those examples, the improper use of quotation marks is responsible for most of the bad signage.  People must be unaware of the unfortunate ironic turn their sign may take.  I attribute this problem to the overuse of air quotes, people mimicing quotation marks in the air as they say a word. 

And apostrophe misuse?  Don't get me started.  It isn't that I'm a grand expert on the subject.  It just bothers me when the basics of spelling or grammar are slighted.  (Hm...the spellchecker is having fits over my use of the word mimicing, which just goes to show that I can be as uninformed as anybody.)

It's confession time:  I am a pathological proofreader.  My eyes go straight to an error whenever I read something, no matter how unimportant the document may be.  It could be a milk carton, a playlist, a poster, a webpage...if there's an incorrect word or bad punctation, I see it whether I want to or not. And once I see it, I want to fix it.  I have never made this public, but I once used a pen to correct a really awful punctuation error in an upscale menu, and yes, the menu was in English.  I went so far as to quietly correct all the other menus within reach.  We were waiting for a table and I had to do it while my husband (and the hostess) wasn't looking.

Correcting a document that is not my own could be considered defacement, I suppose, but I'm in good company. Ann Fadiman, in her book Ex Libris, reports that her father, Clifton Fadiman, routinely corrected menus in posh restaurants.  He even corrected library books, corrections which "he viewed not as defacements but as improvements."  So there.

To my credit: though sorely tempted, I have never drawn a mustache on a publicly-displayed portrait.

Next time:  by popular demand, hair-raising x-rays.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Thaydra said...

LOL.. I so get what you mean about feeling the need to correct those spelling mistakes! I laughed at your confession about the menus. That is fantastic! I agree that I don't think these businesses realize how bad spelling can affect the way they are viewed... at least by me!!