Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pet Peeve: Poor Public Spelling

Our local Taco Bell marquee reads

There here
Grande Quesadillas

Question: What's wrong with this sign (giving the sign-spellers the benefit of the doubt for the missing punctuation)? Answer: There should be spelled they're since it is the contraction for "they are." Otherwise, there here doesn't make any sense.

This example is just one of many misspellings around town, some of which are emblazoned on signs that are more permanent. For example, a local Chinese buffet named Mongolian Garden had, for many months (perhaps even longer), a sign mounted above its front door that read Mogolian Garden. Who knows whether the owner or the sign printer erred; the fact that the restauranteurs would actually mount a sign that misspelled their own business name amazed me. Then a new, correctly spelled sign hung above the front door, with the misspelled sign moved and re-mounted over the back door. I was a little happier with that change, although I did wonder whether egg roll supply companies might think they were at the wrong restaurant when they pulled up to the Mogolian Garden entrance. However, just before the restaurant closed for good, the correctly spelled sign disappeared and the misspelled sign was moved to the front again. Why?

Another example was the dueling road sign problem we had on Greenswitch road. The sign on the southeast corner read Greenswitch (the proper spelling), but the sign on the northeast corner argued that the correct spelling was Greenswich. I felt agitated every time I crossed the intersection until finally the sign with the incorrect spelling was replaced.

Thinking about each public faux pas made me wonder whether business owners ever check with editors, teachers, or people who can spell before making their sad spelling skills permanently public. How hard is it to, say, look up words in the dictionary? Or ask a friend who can spell to take a look at your sign? After all, if you don't pay attention to details in your signs, potential customers will wonder whether you'll pay attention to the details in the product or service you provide to them. If I could give one bit of advice to business owners, it would be to please have someone check your spelling before putting up a sign!

I realize that by tackling this topic I have, of course, exposed my blog to scrutiny. I'm prone to mistakes, as everyone is, but I do run my blog past a second reader to reduce the chances that mistakes slip by undetected.

Your turn: what signs have you seen recently that cause you to cringe?


Diane said...


I remember back when I attended the community college for Early Childhood Ed., one of my teachers said something that stuck in my head. She was discussing how some childcare centers intentionally misspell their business name, or turn letters backwards, to look "cute" and how she hated that. She thought it was especially in poor taste since these places were supposed to educate children. I hadn't thought about it until then, but she made a good point.

That's one thing, but I would have to say I'm sometimes amazed at the lack of proofreading that goes on out there! I worked for a newspaper for a few years and often found misspelled ads, simply from a lack of proofreading. You see it in books, on the Internet... but I have to say that having a SIGN CONSTRUCTED for your business with misspelled words has to be the absolute worst!

Ha Ha! I hope I didn't spell anything wrong in this comment! Hold on... let me proofread...LOL!

Well as far as I know, I think it's all good!

Your Cuz

Amanda Bivens said...

I haven't noticed any signs around town lately, but there is that restaurant called "Have U Ate Today" or whatever, that annoys the heck out of me seeing the restaurant and the delivery truck around town.

EnglishProf said...

Hi, Amanda,

Believe it or not, I've eaten at Have U Ate, despite the fact that I loathe the name! The food (soul food) was excellent, but I think they are now out of business.

Take a look at the Taco Bell sign on Pershing--that's where the "There Here" snafu resides.

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

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