Nov 21, 2010

The Perils of Failing to Proofread

Despite the fact that I teach college for a living (and in the writing-heavy field of history) I am not normally a grammar or spelling Nazi in the real world. Yes, I have my pet peeves, such as writers who start using apostophe's where apostrophe's are not needed as plural's in sentence's, but other than my stance as a radical apostrophist, I am quite forgiving of poor spelling and tortured grammar.

Still, occasionally I have to scratch my head at the benighted efforts of business owners when they create advertising with spelling or grammatical errors. Such was the case with the gutter cleaning entrepreneur, who promised "debree-free" gutters in a Xeroxed flyer that appeared on my porch today.

Perhaps the owner is being deliberately cute here, misspelling the word "debris" in an attempt to appeal to the sort of person who thinks it is kewl to spel badd 'n' stuff. But to most of the literate world, misspellings reflect poorly on a business owner.

Jess sayin', dood.


flask said...

then again, people seem to like to use words they have only ever heard on the teevee but have never seen in print and therefore do not know how to spell.

just be happy your flyer leaver seemed to know what "debree" is; so often these folks don't seem to know what the words actually mean, never mind how they're spelled, or in fact where one word of a misunderstood phrase ends and another begins.

but i'm with you, pal.

Quimbob said...

In the run up to the last election, I contacted a candidate for the state legislature about spelling errors on his website. I didn't really support the guy I just hated his opponent.
Anyway, he ignored me & wound up losing the election.
Not because of his spelling, tho.

microdot said...

Unfortunately, spelling is in the mind of the beholder...

Brian Schwartz said...

I'm very much a grammar nut. I despise bad grammar. It hurts my eyes to read and my ears to hear.

But I'm a lousy proofreader, so I bear the pain because, I leave too many of my own errors behind for lack of good proofreading. I will not judge someone's grammar because someone will no doubt find fault with mine.

However, spelling debris "DEBREE" is not from a lack of proofreading, that's just not knowing how to spell a word.

dennis hodgson said...

I don't think there's much wrong with "debree", although my own preference would be not to mess with the spelling but to pronounce "debris" to rhyme with "hubris". In fact, if we're going to import French words into English, the least we can do is Anglicize the pronunciation, a point that is made more forcefully in French Letters.

Jason said...

I love the way English is pronounced; it screws people up so badly as to be hysterical. Consider that none of the following words rhyme:

plough (British English--we call it a plow)

I think there's a 5th one in that series but you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever stop to think the guy cleaning your gutters probably doesn't have a PHD in english? I don't see how a misspelled word on a flyer would dictate what kind of business owner the person is. Its not like he is a surgeon or an accountant where you're trusting him with your life, hes cleaning junk out of your gutters. We get it, you have a doctorate and you teach at a college level. You are apparently a very intelligent man who is inebriated by the exuberance of his own verbosity. Posting things like this just makes you look egotistical.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

I can see your point that not everyone has the educational background HM has, but I think you're missing the bigger picture. Right or wrong and for whatever reason, the person offering the service lost a customer for something stupid.
Personally, if I see something like this, I start to over-analyze the provider and wonder if they'd do a good job. They probably would, but as a potential customer I shouldn't be given a reason to think those things.
The end result still is that HM ruled out using his services and that's money out of the guy's pocket.