Monday, August 25, 2008

How Green is My Grammar?

Even after writing for the last few years, I cannot say I'm an expert at English grammar. I'm not bad and I've internalized most of the rules of grammar. But don't ask me to conjugate verbs. That would be painful. Sometimes, what I need is the grammar police, but aside from an IFWA member, they don't really exist.

Or do they?

Jeff Deck and Ben Herson of the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) have been travelling throughout the United States stamping out as many types as they can find "in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language." You can see a map of their travels by clicking on the link to their website.

In an interview, Jeff Deck said he has had a passion for eradicating typos since he was young and with this tour hopes to raise awareness of typos. He also said the most frequent typo he finds is the misuse of the apostrophe.

Not everybody values their form of public service. On August 11th, they plead guilty to conspiracy to vandalize government property in Grand Canyon National Park when they used white out and permanent marker to correct a typo on a historical sign that was painted over years ago. They were sentenced to a year's probation and banned from National Parks for the period of one year.

During that year, it would be amusing if the members of TEAL travelled through China correcting the grammar on "Chinglish" signs. Although the Chinese government tried hard to exterminate Chinglish signs for the Olympics, I'm sure a few like the one shown here got missed.

This week's Reason to Read: The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer. The author of Madame Sadayakko: the Geisha that Seduced the West and other non-fiction works about Japan has finally written a novel about Japan. The Last Concubine is an epic novel about Japan in the 19th century. Sachi is only 15 years old when she is given to the Shogun as his concubine. She escapes amidst civil war after the Black Ships arrive and she begins a journey of self-discovery.

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