By now you know how much I hate a typo in a published work. Just visualize any scene involving Linda Blair and a spinning head – that’s me when I encounter the little devils. Typos online – in conversations such as these, there’s a level of forgiveness. But in books, magazines, advertisements, or anywhere a client has plunked down good money for an editor? Not acceptable.
I was at Borders on Saturday. I picked up a book about the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was thumbing through it when I saw a caption. I slammed the book shut and re-shelved it. If you can’t spell the name of the river along which the team has its stadium, give up now. For the record, it’s “Allegheny” NOT “Allegany.” That just hurts.
He’s amused by my rants, and he counters that perhaps in a more culturally mixed society, we have no business arguing for writing perfection. He cites the various foreigners in his company and the emails that are a result of a English-as-a-second-language workforce. He may be right about work settings. But in Borders? I expect more for my money.
I’ve found typos in my IRA financial statements, in reprinted classics (I nearly teared up when finding one in “East of Eden”), in print advertising, in television ads, in stores, in newspapers, and yes, I found one in The Atlantic, which sent me into a complete tizzy. To the credit of the folks at The Atlantic, I’ve subscribed for years and this is the first I’ve found, unlike Time, which I finally had to give up because I couldn’t get past the first page without finding at least half a dozen mistakes. And I’m less picky than most people.
Some of my more enjoyable finds:
– The errant “r” that replaced the “l” in the word “election” in the local college course catalog (I removed it in edits)
– A resume client who typed that he received a “premonition” and subsequent raise
– “I dreamed I ate a marshmellow…” – on the wall of the bedding department in Bloomingdale’s
What do you think? Is bad grammar ever acceptable? What’s your own personal threshhold for typos or bad sentence structure? Where do you draw the line? And what are some of your funniest encounters?