Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Grate Typo Hunt

Jeff Deck (pictured). Last week, a microsecond after I learned of his exploits, I added him to my list of heroes. Deck, an American, had been keen on spelling since junior high school when he won some spelling bees. After seeing lots of misspellings on signs around Boston where he lived, he decided he’d had enough. So in early 2008 he and some friends set off on a 3-month US-wide quest to repair misspellings on signs [1]. The target was to fix one error per day. (They found 400 and fixed 200.) The self-styled Typo Eradication Advancement League [TEAL] [2] blogged about their ‘2008 Typo Hunt Across America’ [3]. A book resulted: The Great Typo Hunt – Two friends changing the world, one correction at a time, by Deck and Benjamin D Herson [4], was published last week [5]. And thus the ‘Typo Hunt II: Book Tour’ [6]. Me? I’ve an above average interest in spelling. Call me a pedant or borderline OCD. I don’t mind. Clearly there are two types of spelling error: a mistake (where writer knew the correct spelling) and a non-mistake (where the writer didn’t). I can forgive the latter, but not the former. Because (before, during and) after all, the purpose of language is communication. And I reckon almost all misspelt signs still communicate the intended message. Be all this as it may, Deck’s still my hero. I hope the State Library of Tasmania buys a copy of his book for public loan.

1 comment:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

I am a wicked word vandal in the English language. I read an article by somebody talking about simplifying English spelling and that in the end usage made change, so I adopted the simplified spelling tho and thru. It is a very difficult language to read and spell because of the strangely different pronunciations of combinations of the same letters.
Spanish is totally phonetic, teaching kids to read in Spanish must be wonderfully simple.