Which begs the questions: Is it time for us to lay down our arms? And are we fighting a hopeless battle?
I certainly hope not, but perhaps the writing – poorly spelled or otherwise – is indeed on the wall. Those of you who are too young to remember can scarcely imagine the outrage when CDs first began appearing on music store shelves, threatening to replace beloved records and cassette tapes. Now even the CDs have been supplanted. Things outlive their usefulness. The world moves on. Maybe it’s ready to move on without editors.
One realm that is still a bastion of editorial bliss is advertising. Ad agencies are so afraid of looking stupid – or worse, making their clients look stupid – by printing or posting something with a typo that they keep in-house teams of language lovers handy to give everything a once-over. But if those of us who care about, respect, and love the English language are a dying breed, how long before corporate America stops worrying about errors in spelling or grammar? If they’re advertising to people who don’t see typos, then what does it matter if they’re there or not?
People who do what we do know what we mean when we say that “the radar is always on” – in other words, we can never not see an error, no matter where we are. So we will always rail against typos and errors no matter where we see them. But if we’re all eventually put out to pasture, it won’t matter what we say – because no one will care.
By Steve Boudreault