This recent article from Reader’s Digest details how Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson have made it their business – nay, their calling – to wipe out typos from all public signage. They’ve formed a group called the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) and have traveled around the country correcting editorially offensive signage – now that sounds like my kind of organization!
I doubt they do it as a public service; if they’re anything like me, it’s more of a compulsion than any attempt at re-educating the faultily learned masses. Quite simply: they can’t help themselves.
There’s also – if you can believe it – an Apostrophe Preservation Society – founded by Englander Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves (which is a delightfully funny, if somewhat acerbic, read).
According to Beth Quinn, who wrote in the Times Record-Herald of Middletown, NY (several years back) of Truss and her book:
“In her rather militant way, she pickets businesses that have apostrophe errors in their signage. Off she goes with a great big apostrophe on a stick and marches around in front until the business owner is shamed into correcting his punctuation.”
Now all we need is a Society for the Prevention of Hyphen Abandonment. I’ve got this little plastic box sitting on my desk – a box filled with stray hyphens – which I find myself accessing on a more regular basis lately as I read. It seems people just don’t know what to do with their hyphens, so they fling them about all willy-nilly, giddily hoping they’ll land in some functional configuration (appropriately wedged between two parts of a compound modifier, for instance). Sadly, though, that generally isn’t the case and they end up falling into words that should never be hyphenated – like “never-the-less.”
What’s your favorite maligned punctuation? Hackneyed strings of exclamation points employed by hyper-enthusiastic email correspondents? Interrobangs? (Still considered to be non-standard punctuation, the interrobang combines an exclamation point – or “bang” – with a question mark.) The oxford comma? (This is a comma that precedes the “and” near the end of a list of items.)
Let’s hear from you…