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The Great Typo Hunt 416

Posted by samzenpus
from the grammar-nazis dept.
jamie writes "Incensed by a 'no tresspassing' sign, Jeff Deck launched a cross-country trip to right grammatical wrongs. He enlisted a friend, Benjamin D. Herson, and together they erased errant quotation marks, rectified misspellings and cut unnecessary possessive apostrophes. The Great Typo Hunt is the story of their crusade." We have already covered the duo's fight with The National Park Service.

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The Great Typo Hunt

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  • by pgmrdlm (1642279) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:42PM (#33217912) Journal
    Another grammar Nazi
  • less / fewer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flynt (248848) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:45PM (#33217960)

    I hope they went to every store with an "express lane for less than 10 items". Shudder.

    • by Itninja (937614)
      Or my favorite: "We now serving expresso!"
    • by h4rm0ny (722443)
      Does it annoy anyone else here when some bastard sneaks in to the less than 10 items queue with actually 10 items?

      Just me, then?
      • by mooingyak (720677)

        I've always seen them signed as "10 items or less" (or 15, or 12, or a few other relatively small numbers).

      • Does it annoy you when people go through with a dozen eggs?
      • by hardburn (141468)

        The rule shouldn't be some arbitrary limit. Rather, if you can hold everything you're buying one of those small baskets or half-sized carts plus your free hand, then you can use the express lane.

    • And, most people fail to realize that this is a problem because the word should be "fewer" not "less". Double shudder.
      • And, most people fail to realize that this is a problem because the word should be "fewer" not "less".

        So, come on, explain to my why this is (allegedly) so. Explanations that won't be accepted:

        • Because some dude made up a rule that says so.
        • Any explanation that consists of simply restating the rule in question in complicated and impressive-sounding language that may or may not betray the fact that the explainer has never been to a Linguistics 101 course.
        • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Informative)

          by lgw (121541) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @03:33PM (#33219468) Journal

          If you're actually interested: fewer relates to countable nouns, less to uncountable. Less water, fewer glasses. "Less glasses" sounds as wrong as "fewer water".

          Of course, few people read edited prose these days, and so most lack the "ear" for poor usage. It will be an odd time for language, with almost everyone literate but not reading books.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by adonoman (624929)
          Because it's convention. Why do we use the word "water" to mean that liquidy stuff you find in lakes? Why does "the" refer to a specific instance of an entity and "a" applies to any given instance of an entity? Words have meanings because that's how language works. We use "less" to indicate relative positions on a continuous scale. We use "fewer" to indicate relative positions on a discrete scale. Why? Because that's how it's been done since the 12th century. On the other, English in particular is
    • by MarkGriz (520778)

      Someone else [youtube.com] is already working on it

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by severoon (536737)

      From dictionary.com [reference.com]: "Even though less has been used before plural nouns ( less words; less men ) since the time of King Alfred, many modern usage guides say that only fewer can be used in such contexts. Less, they say, should modify singular mass nouns ( less sugar; less money ) and singular abstract nouns ( less honesty; less love ). It should modify plural nouns only when they suggest combination into a unit, group, or aggregation: less than $50 (a sum of money); less than three miles (a unit of dis

      • Re:less / fewer (Score:5, Informative)

        by uglyduckling (103926) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @03:47PM (#33219680) Homepage
        "Data" is plural; the singular is "datum". Just like errata and erratum. In a sense you're right, "data" has turned into a popular word and its meaning is changing, but trying to claim that it has recently become popular to use it as plural is completely wrong; rather the reverse is true.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by severoon (536737)

          Not like errata and erratum. Common usage of errata maintains the separate identity of the individual items within the group: We've collected errata for this textbook over a 12 month period. (Each erratum trickled in from readers; the entire set didn't show up all at once.) On the other hand, if you refer to them as a group: The errata is ready for formatting. (Each individual item is not going to be formatted independently—the formatting will be applied to the errata as a whole, all at once. The impl

      • From dictionary.com: "Even though less has been used before plural nouns ( less words; less men ) since the time of King Alfred, many modern usage guides say that only fewer can be used in such contexts. Less, they say, should modify singular mass nouns ( less sugar; less money ) and singular abstract nouns ( less honesty; less love ). It should modify plural nouns only when they suggest combination into a unit, group, or aggregation: less than $50 (a sum of money); less than three miles (a unit of distance

  • Typo or ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:45PM (#33217964)

    NPR really needs to learn the difference between a typo (i.e. a slip of the finger) and bad spelling and grammar.

    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      Oh, and they only found 437 "typos"? Did they not look very hard?

    • The Great Typo and Bad Spelling and Grammar Hunt just doesn't roll off the tongue as well.
    • by cgenman (325138)

      It's the name of the book, [amazon.com] and how the author refers to his findings. NPR has nothing to do with it.

    • by binkzz (779594)

      NPR really needs to learn the difference between a typo (i.e. a slip of the finger) and bad spelling and grammar.

      You probably mean "e.g." and not "i.e.". Or was that a typo? :-"

  • Kind of douchey. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:50PM (#33218036)

    Excessive abuse of grammar is frustrating and it can be enjoyable on occasion to correct it, but something about these guys just make me view them as douches. I'm not surprised that it was featured on NPR, of all places.

    Of all the things to obsess over and waste your time "contributing" to in this world, correcting government signs is going to be it? Really?!

    • by magarity (164372)

      Of all the things to obsess over and waste your time "contributing" to in this world
       
      They didn't waste time; the book is for sale on Kindle for $9.99. They're like the guy who did SuperSize Me in that the activity was research for the real product.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Seumas (6865)

        I didn't really count that as part of the benefit, since I have a general distaste for "random guy starts up popular blogspot page and turns it into a book!" stuff. Imagine how much that must piss off a real author with something they're having a hard time publishing? Damn.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by magarity (164372)

          Imagine how much that must piss off a real author with something they're having a hard time publishing
           
          What's the difference between a real author whose book isn't published and a random guy whose book is published?
           
          One of them is a real author.

    • Meh. I saw the lead grammar Nazi of the pair on one of the national morning news programs sometime on the past week.

      It's not like NPR has a monopoly on things-that-are-somewhat-interesting-but-pretty-stupid. They're actually late to the party on this one.
    • Re:Kind of douchey. (Score:5, Informative)

      by MarkGriz (520778) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:33PM (#33218688)

      Kind of? More like supremely...

      http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2008/08/22/20080822grammarcops0822.html [azcentral.com]

      On March 28, while at Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim, they used a white-out product and a permanent marker to deface a sign painted more than 60 years ago by artist Mary Colter. The sign, a National Historic Landmark, was considered unique and irreplaceable, according to Sandy Raynor, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Monchanger (637670)

        Kind of? More like supremely...

        The sign, a National Historic Landmark

        Really? Is anyone stupid enough to believe a sign could be a national historic landmark?

        No, genius. The sign is attached to the actual landmark, which the sign is about: the Desert View Watchtower [wikipedia.org]. Mary Colter, who painted the sign wasn't an artist but an architect. Facts kind of matter, even when they're about grammar nazis.

        Is it stupid to do their thing on a sign with actual importance? Duh... The thing is nobody but you assumes they did that knowing it wasn't just a poorly-written sign produced by

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by swillden (191260)

          Really? Is anyone stupid enough to believe a sign could be a national historic landmark?

          I dunno. A sign, hand-painted 60 years ago by the architect who designed the landmark seems worthy of preservation itself.

          The thing is nobody but you assumes they did that knowing it wasn't just a poorly-written sign produced by the park service.

          Not knowing doesn't reduce the impact of their vandalism.

  • A local Long John Silver's had "Dungeonous" crabs for sale, and a local McDonald's has a cream "dispener". I've given up on trying to remember them all. Hand-written signs and those plastic letter signs are usually great places to find outrageous (and sometimes hilarious) errors.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      A local Long John Silver's had "Dungeonous" crabs for sale.

      To be fair, it was probably "krab"

    • by Balthisar (649688)

      >>Tiller's Rule: Never use a word in written form that you've only heard and never read. You will end up looking foolish.

      I have the opposite problem: there are hundreds of words that I've read and known that I can't be sure that I properly pronounce.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      A local Amigos is advertising a food item for .99 cents. I should order one, give them a penny, and ask for a 1/100-of-a-cent-cash-value coupon in change.

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        Love this one. They are the same folk who would probably advertise their used 37' TV on Craigslist for some ridiculously low price for an appliance that needs its own building, then try to pawn something only 3-4' in diagonal off on you.

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      PS - A local Italian restaurant features "Child Spaghetti" on their menu.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:51PM (#33218066)

    should of payed for that pro spell check and not use the free build in one.

  • It's nice to see someone put their Asperger Syndrome to use for a noble purpose.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Maybe they could try something productive then. Like brewing beer, or making a new form of paper.

  • Sigh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Spoonman (634311) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @01:55PM (#33218126) Homepage
    Language is about communication, it's not about the RULES of grammar. Yes, we have arbitrarily decided rules as to what gets an apostrophe and how things are spelled and so on...failing to follow this rule or that at any given time doesn't often hinder the communication. If someone says to me "pimipin' ain't easy", I get what they said. I don' t need them make sure they put the "g" on the end or use "isn't" instead of "ain't". Thanks to my abhorently abusive Catholic school education, I still cringe when I see someone's written "Thank's for shopping at our store's!", but I don't feel the need to correct them. That would just be douchey. You know...like these two guys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by flerchin (179012)

      What is pimiping?

    • Communication will work, but at the cost of lowered efficiency. Typos and the lack of clarity in a sentence will force most careful readers to backtrack and reread to ensure it wasn't an error on the reader's part. To me, it's a little like driving with a dirty windshield. Sure, it's doable, but its nonetheless distracting.
      On the net, I can accept that the rules of grammar are as variable as the backgrounds of the people writing and reading it. In print, or on permanent signage, I'm not so forgiving.

    • Re:Communication (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#33218794) Homepage

      Like it or not, I can attest to the fact that I often mentally judge someone by their speech if I am talking to them, or by their spelling and punctuation if I am reading their writing. I am sure I am hardly alone. If they lack the ability to compose a coherent sentence, or the decency to use a spell checker, and have no concept of grammatical formations, then I am inclined to judge them as uneducated, ignorant or ill-informed, and I tend to disregard whatever it was that they were trying to communicate. Now, I grant you that sometimes one might type "Pimpin' ain't easy" for the effect - but the intention is to imply someone who is a lower-class, uneducated and possibly not very bright individual. If you regularly communicate in a similar style, you will look equally lower-class, uneducated and possibly not very bright. In other words, its a matter of communication. If you communicate poorly, you tend to be ignored, and in my opinion whatever you have to say matters less.

      If I am reading forum posts and I come across a post that is utterly incoherent, misspelled, or contains a lot of grammatical errors, I skip it. That person has failed to get whatever point they were trying to make across to me at least, and likely others. If you want to be given attention, and your opinions to be given any consideration, learn to communicate using proper grammar, spelling etc. Failure to do so simply makes you look like an idiot.

      Now, unleash the Grammar Nazis to let me know where I have erred in my post. I tried to be correct throughout, but I am sure I have made at least one mistake :)

  • When I was in college in the mid-1990s, I had a clipped-out newspaper cartoon on my bulletin board, showing a group of people correcting signs, muttering things like "I before E!" and "It's Brussels Sprouts, not Brussel Sprouts!". I can't remember what comic strip it was, but the panel was captioned, "Roving Gangs of Rogue Proofreaders."

  • Is NPR accepting ads now? At first I thought this was idle news, until I read "In 2 1/2 months, Herson and Deck traveled the perimeter of the country..."

    Perimeter of the US in 2 1/2 months? That takes some $$$$$ to do that and 2 1/2 month without a day job... and here's how they did it, by writing a book, The Great Typo Hunt [amazon.com]

    A book about traveling the country and correcting signs. Must be an amazing read, what's their next book, the Amazing Highway Trash Cleanup?

    Think I'll just wait for the movie
    • > Is NPR accepting ads now?

      They have for decades. They and others have interviewed authors flogging books for longer yet.

  • This is one dude where I ANAL has nothing to do with lawyers.
  • Note: it's not a typo if the error was borne of ignorance.
  • Godwin's Law invoked!
  • "Grammer Nazis.... I hate these guys"

  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:14PM (#33218418) Homepage Journal

    http://imgur.com/4R1D4 [imgur.com]

    Welcome to China.

    A more accurate translation would be "dry fried duck", but I suppose there's a more elegant translation.

    ---

    http://blog-imgs-38.fc2.com/o/t/t/ottovon/_20gb601.jpg [fc2.com]
    Welcome to Hong Kong -- this one actually made it to local news headlines for its hilarity.

    [ Bold/top line is original text, middle line is google's translations (which sucks), and bottom is what it really means ]

  • How do we reach these guys? A place called "Tobys Banquet's" has been bugging me for years.

    I don't even consider myself a stickler for grammar.
    • by Flea of Pain (1577213) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:53PM (#33218974)

      My personal favourite was at a fast food Chinese place. The sign? "No. MSG"

      I took that to mean that if you asked a question the answer would be "No." Followed by "MSG"

      Eg. "Do you use healthy preservatives in your food?" "No. MSG"

      • by sponga (739683)

        The best one were some Mexican people who took over a 'Friend Chicken' restaurant in like the real ghetto part of East LA.
        One of their signs they added basically said something to the effect "Sur(south)negroe(black) pollo(chicken)", sure enough next morning on the news there were black community leaders out there protesting it.

        I think some of the best ones are in foreign countries and I remember a viral post going around showing all these Chinese misspelled names.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:24PM (#33218564) Journal

    If you own a sign, it's yours. You get to alter it, deface it, replace it, do whatever you want with it.

    If you don't own a sign, and don't have permission of the owner or some specific sign-maintaining authority, then altering it is an act of vandalism. Your intent is irrelevant. It's not your sign. Don't like it? Too bad. Offer the sign owner some money to replace the sign with one that is to your liking, and maybe they'll take you up on it.

    There's a really old-looking hand-carved sign at Yellowstone that talks about the dangers of getting too close to critters. IIRC it's near Old Faithful, but it's been about 10 years since I've been there, so my memory might be bad. The wood is well-weathered, the carving is pretty good, and it's obviously a matter of some effort on the part of the park service to preserve it. Unfortunately, it has a single spelling error (reversal of two letters in a word), and there are various correction marks that have been scratched and scrawled into it over the years that really ruin the look of the sign.

    If it's not yours and you haven't been put in charge of maintaining it, keep your markers and tools off it. Please.

  • Website gone?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:36PM (#33218728)

    I'm looking for the cited 'TEAL' website, and everything I click on leads me to their book. I don't give a crap about the book, I just want to see photos of their work.

  • Tpyos are a pet peeve of mine.

  • Is he the test tube baby of David Schwimmer and Jack from Lost?

    Would have been nice to known their itinerary and plant bad signs in their path. Maybe lead them into Mexico and one of the drug cartel territories. Oh, what fun would ensue!

  • IMHO, these guys are out for a cheap thrill, a book deal and dangerous.

    Check this link:
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/08/22/men_banned_from_national_parks_after_vandalism/ [boston.com]

    Here's an excerpt:
    "Jeff Michael Deck of Somerville, and Benjamin Douglas Herson, of Virginia Beach, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff after damaging a rare, hand-painted sign in Grand Canyon National Park.

    They were sentenced to a year's probation, during which they cannot enter any nation

  • Languages evolve by, among other things, useful "mistakes" that are adopted by the speakers and writers - with notable exceptions (such as Latin, which is no longer spoken as an L1, or French, which has a standards body and for which speaking "incorrectly" is a crime, with fines, in France).

    The English language was an evolving language as of the American Revolution. But beginning about then, some people tried to standardize it.

    Of course they standardized the way it was spoken on the East Coast (but added a

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