Spell Check

In between listening to the news talking about laptop and electronic device bans on flights, a slight turn to the left of the screen made me notice a business sign. It’s your regular blue on white sign with the type of business and its name gently written for customers and potential clients to recognize from a distance.

But how many times have you seen or read signs that mean to say one thing but have written another?

Most of the times it is two different spellings own two separate signs for the same business at times, the signs do not even have a double entendre but an extra letter which should not be there or a missing one that completely changes the sign.

Other times, these slight slip of the eyes or lack of editing before hanging four by eight signage can make anyone uneasy or even furious in all honesty. Imagine sitting in a restaurant with the perfect setting for a nice evening out with anyone, be it a friend, a lover or a family member and the person waiting on your table brings you the menu. You open the pages to the leather bound list of offerings the restaurant is presenting you with for the evening and flip through the nicely designed and decorated pages before making your choice.

Until you feel like you are in the mood for one of those fancy semi-designer meals that you see on the TV shows or movies. But then you skim through the listing and land on the exact meal you were craving and see that it has a major spelling error.

You know the type that makes you wonder whether it’s beef or chicken.

Does this not obviously make you wonder whether or not the chef can make the food if it is misspelled?

You would assume the chef has the responsibility of checking what is on the menu and making sure it matches with what can be offered. In this case one can understand that the number of local chefs that have undergone actual training and schooling to head a kitchen and professionally manage it are as rare as green colored chicken wings.

That being said it does not mean that whoever is managing the restaurant or the one that actually owns it is not responsible for these mishaps. Furthermore, this is also the customer’s responsibility to point out the errors or even go as far as help correct them.

Turns out that it is mostly carelessness, the more I enquired about it and the more I looked into the situation. Having had my own share of tours to printing presses for other work related purposes I have witnessed many signs with avoidable errors, beautifully designed, printed and read for pick up.

I must admit that sometimes overlooking certain details amidst the craziness and the deadlines that need to be met happens to the best of us. However, we must be certain that if such things happens regularly and all over the country then there is obviously something lacking somewhere, but where, is the question to ask.

There are different explanations that surface when talking about spelling errors. One of which is the disparity of the level of education that a friend once casually mentioned when talking about this redundant problem in our country. Given the level of education of the teachers and that of the students by the time they graduate we can imagine the quality of educated people the country is producing. Even though, this flagrant reason could be posed as an explanation, I do not think that it should justify these spelling errors on signage, flyers and billboards.

In an era where we have auto-correct on our cellphones let alone our desktop computers, would not you say that most of these errors are definitely avoidable?

Though thanks to Alexander Pope it is commonly said “to err is human and to forgive divine” do you think that there should be a limit somewhere?

It seems as though carelessness is on both sides of the coin because sometimes even when an accountant or someone issuing an ID writes down the wrong name, those that call them out on it are few in numbers.

Again, the question of education can be raised but also this very fear that we all equally share has a big role to play. No one seems to ask for help, proper spelling of names or other, no one seems to say ‘I don’t know’

By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled "Poetic Saturdays" - a platform created to allow everyone the freedom of self-expression through art. She can be reached at poeticsaturdays@gmail.com

Published on Mar 25,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 881]



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