This Weaks Columm
by John Pearson
A story in the metro section of the Dallas Morning News caught my eye a few weeks ago. In it, the author decried the rash of misspellings popping up all over town. A movie marquee announces tonight’s premier. A coffee shop billboard suggests a cup of regualar coffee. Another sign advertises cheep gas.
The problem is not just local to Dallas, though. Spelling and grammatical errors are so bad nationwide that there are actually coordinated groups dedicated to correcting them. Recently, two men were caught making corrections to a sign in Grand Canyon National Park. The article didn’t state the error that the men were trying to fix, but I’m going to guess it said, “Please cleen up after your own burrroo.”
Regardless, these men were not only thrown out of the park, but they were banned from national parks for a year! Perhaps they wouldn’t have been disrespected so badly if they had chosen a better name for their group. The men belong to an organization known as the Typo Eradication Advancement League. Really? TEAL?? Why not something more likely to strike terror into the hearts of misspellers everywhere? Something like the Society for Protecting English Language Lovers, Citizens Hating Errors, and Childhood Knowledge – SPELLCHECK!!!
Many blame the abundance of errors on the emergence of text messaging, where abbreviations and misspellings are the norm. Texting conventions seem to be rapidly making their way into formal writing.
I have started texting quite a bit over the past year. For a long time, I was a stickler for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I texted every letter, every apostrophe, every comma.
It soon became obvious, however, that shorter, less precise messages would be much more effective. I will admit, I now use “u” instead of “you,” “r” instead of “are,” and “4” instead of “for” (though it feels as if a tiny piece of my soul falls away every time I do).
However, everything has its proper time and place. Abbreviations and slang are well and good for text messages and internet chat, but they should not be accepted on school assignments, formal reports, or public signage.
Unless it’s Chik-Fil-A. “Eat Mor Chikin” gets an A in my book.
John Pearson is a third-grade math and science teacher in Dallas, Texas. He has degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke University and Texas A&M, so most consider his math abilities adequate enough to teach nine-year olds. He is also the author of Learn Me Good (Lulu, 2006), a funny, fictionalized account of his first year in education. Read more at www.learnmegood.com