Spell-Right (Part 1)
I’m a very visual person. I can’t help it. I see things that many don’t. As Monk says, “It’s a blessing … and a curse.” Over the course of several years, I’ve snapped photos of signs I encounter in my travels that contain a misspelled word (or two). My unusual pastime even prompted the editor of my local newspaper to interview me for a human-interest article. Come along with me as I share some in my collection.
Strolling along the street downtown, I stopped to window shop in a jewelry store. The first thing that caught my eye was that “jewelry” was spelled with one “l” on the door, and two “l’s” on the window! No doubt, an American sign maker was responsible for the former, a British one for the latter. And then I looked up to see this on the awning. I approached the owner and shared with her the different spellings on the window and the door. “Oh, yes, she said, in America it’s one “l”, in England it’s two.” I called her out to the street and pointed to the awning. She was surprised and upset. “My husband bought that six months ago for $5000 and no one’s noticed it in all this time!”
On the way to attend a funeral, I passed by several signs, all clearly showing which road to take. Helpful? Certainly. Spelled correctly? Nuh uh! And the Puerto Rican Day Parade? Surely someone should have taken the time to proofread the spelling of the country it is honoring. McDonald’s is not immune to creative spelling either; take a look at the sign I snapped here. Or, perhaps it’s a new kind of burger?And finally, my favorite: a card I received from a grateful student wishing me a Happy Valentine’s Day. Look closely. I missed it the first time in my rush to look inside. I guess it’s the thought that counts. Sweet.
So, am I just being picky? Intolerant? An old fuddy-duddy? Should we even insist on proper spelling? Once, while teaching 5th grade, I attended a lecture by a then well-known spelling expert who promoted “creative spelling.” It mattered not how easy the word was. If a student wrote “dogg” her advice was to ignore it; we get the meaning. I raised my hand in the seminar and said, “What about when it pervades our world? I was in the city the other day and a sign in a window proclaimed ‘dinning room closed,’ shouldn’t we expect public signs and notices to model good English, spelling and grammar?” Her answer was, “You knew what it meant!” Enuf sed.