Two really unfortunate typos

Hi, folks! I haven’t been too present on the blog lately. I was away for much of last week on a family vacation, and tomorrow I’m heading to GenCon to see old friends, but I recently found* two typos that I had to share. Consider them snacks to tide you over until a real post comes along.

First, you’ve heard of Porsche, right? Their cars ain’t cheap, so you’d figure the company would have a little money to invest in producing great ads. However, they seem to have skimped on the proofreading in this series of billboards promoting their Boxster. I always say if you’re going to misspell the name of your own product, you might as well do it big.

Next up is this obituary, which contains a hilariously inappropriate acronym in the photo caption. Apparently, some folks on Twitter have called this the “worst caption fail of all time.” I really don’t know how this particular error can be explained. You’d have to go out of your way to make this mistake. One theory is that the caption writer meant to signify “lots of love,” but that just makes me LOL.

(When I say I “found” these typos, I mean I read about them online. One of them was sent to me by a friend, and one of them was discovered while browsing. I much prefer taking photos of real typos in the wild, but until Karen and I launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund our world travels for that very purpose, a prescriptive grammarian’s gotta do what a prescriptive grammarian’s gotta do.)

Possession: The Sequel

I stumbled on this sign (well, not literally–it’s on a stand on a bin, not lying in the aisle) this afternoon while meandering around the nearby Goodwill store.

I’m honestly unsure of why it reads the way it does. It could be that whoever was making the signs felt the need to be consistent, since the other bins are labeled “Men’s Bin,” “Women’s Bin,” and “Children’s Bin” (all correctly, which was in itself a pleasant surprise). Of course, the linens don’t own anything. Nothing in the bin is for use by linens. The bin contains linens, for use by people. I think “People’s Linens Bin” probably sounds a little bit too Chairman Mao-ish. The correct signage would be “Linens Bin.” That’s all. Just “Linens Bin.” Then, of course, it doesn’t match the other signs–and I suspect that’s where it all went sideways.

Of course there’s also the argument that “$1.49” must apply to the bin as a whole, since the word “each” isn’t present on the sign. However, it does state “Ticketed items priced as marked”–so I think one can safely assume that the price applies to individual items that aren’t otherwise priced. (I wonder what would happen, though, if someone tried to make the claim for the entire bin for $1.49.)

I should note that I did not find any demons, demon souls, demon’s souls, or demons’ souls in Goodwill. At least, none that were labeled as such.


You are not orientated correctly, irregardless.

I had hoped to catch another “typo in the wild” as Ray put it last week, but sadly the sign I spied over the weekend was gone today. It was one of those mobile signs with removable letters, sitting in the parking lot of a small resale shop. I did a double-take when I spied it because a) I wasn’t sure I saw it correctly and b) I was driving, and had to watch the traffic. The sign proudly proclaimed “SHABBY SHEEK.” Yeah. “Sheek.” Perhaps it was a “cute” misspelling of the kind I first learned about in 6th grade English class, and which I’ve hated from that very day. Perhaps it was really about a down-at-heel Saudi fellow, in which case it was still spelled incorrectly, but the end result would’ve been far closer to the actual spelling. Sadly, I suspect that neither of those possibilities is what actually happened. I suspect that whoever placed the letters has no clue that “chic” is the word they were after, and just went with the closest phonetic spelling. We’ll never know for sure.

Now, for the rant. As the blog entry says, “You are not orientated properly, irregardless.” Backformations drive me batty. Some of them are indeed correct, standard English words. However, “orientate” is not standard American English. It’s more commonly used in British English. This article explains that speakers and writers on both sides of the Big Pond bemoan the other’s usage.

As for me and my house (is that Biblical enough for you? I hope so, it’s about as Biblical as I’ll get–and notice, that’s capitalized because I’m referring to the Bible, not to something generally enormous. But I digress.), we will continue to use the American standard formation of “orient” because it’s standard American English. And because it sounds better. So there.

Regardless of what we choose to do, you are free to do as you please. Note, I didn’t say “irregardless”–because that’s not a word. It’s wrong. The word is “regardless.” Just because “respective” has as its antonym “irrespective” does not automatically mean that “regardless” needs an “ir-” prefix. It’s not only redundant (the word already means “without regard for”), it’s wrong. Stop it. Please.

That’s a pretty short rant, but it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and I’m easily tired today. I hope it’s still enjoyable. Later, folks.


[calendar pages fly in a strong wind, moving from July 23, 2012 to March 24, 2015]

[dolly shot from calendar to editor’s work space, hands on a backlit keyboard]

Wow, how times change a person. Well, times and continued education and making connections in other fields related to one’s chosen area. Linguists are way cool, I’ve found out.

And because I’ve been hanging with linguists and lexicographers and other editors with experiences different from my own, I need to update this post a little. I’m here to tell you that “irregardless” is, indeed, a word. It is. It has meaning; we know exactly what someone means when they say it (the same thing as “regardless”), even if we get on our high horse and pontificate about how we can’t possibly know because the person’s not speaking proper English and that’s not even a word and how dare they you get the picture, I hope.

It’s even in the dictionary.

Watch Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster explain “irregardless” by clicking this here link thing.

Now, before you stomp off into the distance raving about my traitorous stance, hear me out. One of my favorite sayings is “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Usually I apply that to things like scientific fringe procedures that I find ethically (and probably morally) questionable. However, it also applies to language usage. Sure, “irregardless” is a word. That doesn’t oblige ANYONE to use it. It simply means that those who choose to use it have made that choice.

What others think about them for having made that choice is up to those others. For myself? I don’t use it. I don’t care to hear it and I certainly twitch when I see it in print (unless I’m reading Internet comments or very casual writing). As for me and my house, we will still say “regardless.”





So me the money!

Should weekly grocery-store ads count as low-hanging fruit and thus be excluded from the wrath of GRAMMARGEDDON!? (Hmm . . . note to self: don’t end a question with the name of the blog again.)

Well, here’s one, anyway, sent in by my old college pal Kevin, who apparently received the ad in his email. It’s from the H-E-B chain of grocery stores in Texas, which I had not heard of before. Can you spot the typo in the ad? I’d so it to you, but that would cheat you out of the fun of finding it yourself. Okay, okay, there are at least two things wrong in the ad, but I’m talking about the most obvious error.

Is this too nitpicky of us? I don’t think so. It’s just another example of a blatant typo that really should have been caught—and it probably would have been, if it weren’t for those meddling kids! Er, I mean, if anyone at H-E-B had spent 10 seconds reading over the ad. But they probably just ran a spellcheck and called it a day.

This lowly typo reinforces one of our blog’s main points: if you can’t be bothered to check your work for errors and present a professional front when communicating, you can’t expect people to treat you professionally.

Sorry, H-E-B. And thanks, Kevin!

I don’t know anyone who fits this description.

I doubt that any of you readers do, either. It’s pretty specific, and not a little bit oxymoronic. It is, however, a fine example of how an attempt to fit words on a small sign can have mostly meaningless–and pretty amusing, in a sad way–results.

Awfully specific, isn’t it?

Yes, we all know what the sign-writer meant. The problem is: What the writer meant isn’t what the sign says. It’s not good enough to say “Well, we know what he means,” because somewhere, someone won’t know what he means and will only be confused. (How many of us know people for whom English is not their first language, who have problems with everyday idiomatic speech? This could mess with them for months.)

It’s situations like this for which graphics were created, in my opinion. A wheelchair, the outline of a pregant woman, an adult with a babe-in-arms and/or a toddler alongside: Those three graphics would take care of three-quarters of the intended audience. (I’m not aware of a currently accepted graphic for “elderly,” but suggestions are more than welcome.)

Also: We’re not sure where this photo first appeared. If anyone knows the origin, please tell us and we’ll gladly give credit!