Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's an Epidemic

We are experiencing an epidemic in this country. You see the signs everywhere. Literally.

The typo virus infects one out of every one Americans—at least the semi-literate ones with access to a keyboard. Many would like to think it hasn't hopped the Atlantic and infected Europe—they're just too smart over there, you know—but I think we're kidding ourselves about that. We just don't speak their funny languages well enough to recognize the symptoms.

There are all sorts of pictures floating around the Internet of people holding hand-lettered signs that mangle words. Yes, they're funny, but at least they have the excuse of lacking a spellcheck feature in their Magic Markers.

What do you make of a national magazine's Web site's story on “Essential Gear for Smart Travel” that includes a recommendation for “Tumi Wheeled Garmet Bag”? Or a New York Times opinion piece that warned of “the usual gang of fearmongerers"? Actually, I'm giving the Times the benefit of the doubt, because I'd hate to conclude that they think "fearmongerer" is a word.

Another magazine's Web site included a list of movies appropriate for Valentine's Day and included the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice with this description: "Matthew Macfadyen woes the brilliant Keira Knightley." Well, he really does "woe" her until she comes to her senses.

Also on the list was 1945's I Know Where I'm Going, in which Wendy Hiller heads to Scotland but "on the way she meets dashing navel officer Robert Livesey." I don't want to think what a "navel officer" is.

It really matters what keys, and in which order, you press when creating a written communication. Pay attention, America!


  1. And in the Internet world, there is no place to hide. Even if the text is corrected, screen captures last forever.

  2. True, but at least you can amend. I remember the horror of reading a full page advertisement that said in HUGE type "Birmigham." It was part of a series of civic-minded ads prepared by local ad agencies.

    In my advertising copywriting days, you could lose your job for the smallest typo. We proofed copy and "mechanicals" with two people before the ad was "shot." (The old days of offset printing!)

    I can only imagine how many people lost their jobs at that agency.