Confessions of a Slowly Recovering Pedant
Warning: This post contains typos.
Misplaced apostrophes make my skin itch and typos make my teeth water. If I see that a café is offering Toastie's on its menu, it takes every fibre of restraint I possess not to whip out my pen.
A Pen-Wielding Pedant
Indeed, I have been that person. The person who wipes rogue apostrophes off sandwich boards, who crosses out misspellings with a marker. Feel free to sing Pedant at me, to the tune of The Pink Panther theme.
It does grieve me when I see these little wounds inflicted on the English language, on shop signage or restaurant menus. It tells me that the managers or owners have assigned the job of writing this material to an 18-year=old whose first language isn't English. And then haven't made the time to proofread their work.
But a slow awareness has crept up on me over time, that finger wagging is not the answer when it comes to typos. A few years ago there was an apostrophe vigilante roaming the streets of Bristol at night, scrubbing signs that said Amy's Nail's and Pear's For Sale.
Photo Description: The words Amy's Nail's, Deel 50% Off, are printed in wacky looking light pink letters on a background of black bricks.
I read about him in an article in The Guardian, which also included comments from top linguists and editors, saying that such vigilance did nothing to advance the development of the English language. Hmm, I thought, if they're saying this, maybe it's time to relax my own vigilance.
My Own Typos
And then there's the thorny matter of my own typos, and the glee with which other people point them out. I once had a typo gleefully pointed out to me in the public circus that is LinkedIn, by a person I always found incredibly kind and caring when I met them in person.
Still, I have to accept this as karmic retribution for carelessness on my part and also for my finger-wagging behaviour. And to remember, if I am tempted to finger wag, the burning sense of humiliation that comes when someone is chiding you in public.
And because I don't want to visit these small humiliations on other people, I'm putting my red pen away. Rogue apostrophes will always make my skin itch. But if I have to sit on my hands and tape my lips together, I will say nothing about them. Not if it makes others feel small.
Feel free to gleefully point out typos in this post. I love nothing more than the taste of eaten words. Or you can share any funny typos you've come across. Contact me on email@example.com or 0876959799.
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