Sunday, February 08, 2009

How to tell if you've gone too far on that editing thing

1. you carry five pens at all times so you can do things like correct bumper stickers;

2. you get arrested for defacing (correcting) historic signs;

3. You get booted out of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar cause even they think you're a pricklepuss.

4. All of the above


~Jamie said...

haha don't show that lady this then:

I love that blog, it makes me laugh pretty much every time I read it. :)

Liana Brooks said...

I don't know if these people need to get out of the house more, or locked up for their own safety. I know we can't let them head to England.

Sarah said...

I grit my teeth when I see grammar problems. (It's/its, their/they're, your/you're really irk me.)

However. The lade who wouldn't go to a Krispy Kreme?

They could open a Krispy Kreme in Birmingham, England on Kings Row. They could even have a little neon sign that reads:

Come on in- their 'hot'

The minute that sign came on, I'd be there.

Steve Stubbs said...

You left off one: getting a finger wagging at the Library of Congress for marking up their Gutemberg Bibles.

acpaul said...

Are the five pens in several different colors?

Red and blue and black and green?

Anonymous said...


I used to run a Tolkien forum, and I'd edit posts with bad grammar and misspellings. *blush*

nightsmusic said...

What is amazing to me is that almost 27,000 people responded to the poll and 80% have corrected someone at sometime.

And admit it!

Susan at Stony River said...

Oh no, I'm a 4!!

Did I win... or fail??


BJ said...

I'm a grammar snob, I'm afraid, but I'm able to let casual, private mistakes go - even I sometimes write 'their' for 'there' in my drafts. But when it's fiction to be sold, I take out the fine-toothed comb, just to help the person put on their best, most professional face.

The mistakes that really get to me, though, are in ads and newspapers. In ads, I have to wonder where their heads are. In a profession where one must gain the confidence of the target audience, spelling and grammar mistakes are a lack of professionalism that no company can afford. I once had an experience with a construction person acting unprofessional while driving. I wouldn't trust him either.

Newspapers, though - don't get me started. Oops. Too late. This is an industry which relies on the written word, and even has its own industry styleguides (Canadian Press in Canada, AP in the US). Yet more and more I find stupid mistakes that would easily be caught by a trained proofreader - grammar, spelling, clarity - but are blatantly ignored. A spelling mistake in an article is bad enough; one in a headline is unacceptable. What adds insult to injury, though, is I've actually applied for jobs as proofreader at the local paper, but wasn't considered because I don't have a journalism degree. It looks as though journalists are not taught how to write properly anymore. Whether they are or not, these (often stupid) mistakes make it look that way.

This is why I started my blog, Points on Style, at - but I have problems keeping it up because I force myself to calm down before posting there. Maybe I shouldn't - it could be more interesting to hear my rants rather than considered discourse.

Anyway, I have a problem with anyone acting unprofessional. Perfectionist? Maybe. But the politician who speaks unprofessionally in a professional arena, the journalist who can't spell, the crooked lawyer... To me, these people make a mockery of their party/company/profession, and can't be trusted. In private correspondence or informal arenas it's no big deal, but in public, they just seem unable to properly do their jobs.

And now that I've shown my anal side, I'll just say one thing: I've never tried Krispy Kreme, but I would dearly love the chance. As a company name, it's trademarked that way, and no doubt listed in their company style guides exactly this way. If I were to see 'Crispy Cream' I would not expect it to be the same company, nor would I expect the same quality.

Anyway, /rant

Liana Brooks said...

BJ- I'm slightly more sympathetic for newspaper editors. I've been there. At three in the morning when you've been staring at newsprint on the computer for six hours it's hard to remember how to spell. I thought fire was misspelled in a headline once, going so far as to look it up. It was right, but it looks weird in large print when you're exhausted. Fatigue accounts for a lot of stupid mistakes in newspaper.

For the other industries, I'm less sympathetic. But when it's private language, blogs, or letters I don't mind unless it becomes entirely illegible.

Deb Vlock said...

The one that really gets me is the sign on the front door that reads, "The Smith's"

Anonymous said...

I am a reformed grammar snob. I used to get annoyed and sometimes correct people. Then one day, I woke up and realised I was being an ass. I had a good laugh about it, and quit, cold turkey.

Now I only correct people if they ask me to proofread something. I'm happier, more relaxed, and my friends are too.

Jane Smith said...

Oh, dear.

I am that person.

I was once nearly arrested at a Tube station for correcting the punctuation on a notice about a body under a train... it was only because my weary friend assured the station staff that I wasn't changing the meaning, but improving it, and that yes, I did this sort of thing all the time and no, I wasn't a lunatic, saved me from the handcuffs.

I was too busy rubbing out stray apostrophes to contribute to my own defence.

BJ said...

But Just_Me - you checked it, didn't you?

Anna Claire said...

I'm with Just_Me, too. I work for a newspaper, and with that volume of words to comb through every single night, there are going to be mistakes. Believe me, nobody feels stupider than the four or five people who let the mistake through. And they'll hear about it anyway from grammar-Nazi readers (who are awesome--I heart grammar and definitely clock in on Janet's No. 4).

Mistakes in ads do drive me crazy, though. There is only so much text there to check--you'd think people would get it right more often than they do, particularly when they're paying the big bucks to advertise in the first place.

ryan field said...

One more for the list...

You're supposed to be reading for fun and you wind up counting the adverbs.

Pamela Hammonds said...

I will eat at Krispy Kreme, but I confess that the Chick-fil-A cows bother me with their 'sound-spelling' (as my kindergartener's teacher puts it). I don't understand why their marketing people think it's funnier. I guess it's a throw-back to Click-Clack-Moo. Cows that type? And apparently can't spell either.
I'm a grammar snob but it harkens back to my childhood. My mother wouldn't let us take lessons at The Gymnastics' Skool. She figured if they couldn't spell, then they didn't deserve her business.

Binnie Brennan said...

Thanks for the reminder. I've just removed the fifth pen from my pocket protector.


Melanie said...

I used to work at a publisher with one of the vigilantes who fixed the Grand Canyon sign. Editing journals and magazines is great and all, but it clearly lacks the adrenaline-pumping adventure of editing public property.

L.C. Gant said...

I'm mildly annoyed when I see grammar problems, but I don't go so far as to correct other people's mistakes. I'll often edit documents for friends and family who ask for help, but that's it. I don't force my corrections on anyone. I think that's just plain rude.

To be honest, I wish I had the kind of time to go around vandalizing public property because of some silly grammar error. Must be nice to not have anything more pressing to do!

Sorry if this turned into a bit of a rant. I just don't think it's helpful to obsess over grammar when millions are losing their homes and their jobs. I get what the article said about stress, but really...Aren't there more constructive ways to channel that energy?

amberargyle said...

What if we just call the construction workers and insist that they fix the yellow, blinking sign that you have to pass every day?

Julie Butcher said...

I knew I was in trouble when I sat down with a new novel to read and found myself searching the desk for a red pencil.
That was scary, not sparkley.


BJ said...


Are there any noises that bother you? Fingernails on a blackboard? Squeaking styrofoam? High pitched noises? A yapping dog? Honking horns? A plane flying directly overhead? Will it still bother you in hard economic times? Will hard times keep you from doing what you can about it (stop the scraping, complain to someone, call the city)?

For some people, seeing grammatical/spelling errors gives them a similar feeling. Harder times aren't going to make these any easier to handle. And the stress of the times only makes it worse.

Odd? Perhaps. But I have no problems with the sound of fingernails on a blackboard. To each his own.

s.w. vaughn said...

Hee hee! Love the "blog" of "unnecessary quotation marks".

I've been personally tempted to fix every misuse of it's/its I've seen (and it's been misused a LOT). Poor, misunderstood contraction/possessive. Its name has been misaligned.

Yeah, I totally think I'm clever. LOL

Rowenna said...

Well, I haven't been arrested...yet. (Hiding black Sharpie as we speak, lest anti-grammar police storm my living room.) But a question to the good folks creating these informative signs--Where's the proofreading? If I were in charge of ordering signs for any reason, but especially a historic site or natural landmark, I think I'd ask about fifteen people to go over the text with a red pen.

Amy Laurens said...

There are a few certain, specific things that make me itch everytime I see them (or hear there). Those I'll correct... But I'm actively trying /not/ to become a grammar-nazi O:)