Correcting other people's English illegal
debaron at illinois.edu
Mon Sep 22 05:23:37 UTC 2008
There's a new post on the Web of Language: Correcting other people's
English illegal -- Comma Bombers guilty on federal conspiracy charges
The Comma Bombers, better known as Jeff Michael Deck and Benjamin
Douglas Herson, both 28, both English majors, both graduates of that
hotbed of compassionate conservatism, Dartmouth College, were
sentenced to a $3,000 fine and a year's probation by a federal judge
last month for correcting an apostrophe on a historic handpainted sign
at the Watch Tower, near Arizona's Grand Canyon.
The sign had been painted by the architect Mary Colter to introduce
visitors to the Anasazi-style Watch Tower that she designed on the
Canyon’s south rim in 1933. Interestingly, Colter had been a stickler
for detail: she handpicked every stone and placed it in the structure
to achieve the maximum impact.
But the vandals didn’t approve of Colter's attention to punctuation,
so they fixed a misplaced apostrophe and added a missing comma with
WiteOut and markers. . . .
Because the sign has historic value and is on a federally-protected
site, these fighters in what some newspapers are calling the "war on
error" were found guilty in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff of
conspiracy to vandalize government property. . . .
these budding Alex P. Keatons began their voyage of discovery three
miles north of the start of Rt. 66, in Chicago's hipster-ridden Wicker
Park, where they unsuccessfully attempted to correct the sign outside
Milwuakee (sic) Furniture. . . .
there are plenty of other language vigilantes eager to join the futile
effort to put commas in their place. . . .
Correcting other people's language errors has long been a hobby of
those English majors who feel the need to compete with
environmentalists, premeds and social work students in the "make the
world a better place" sweepstakes.
Unfortunately, in terms of language, most people want to be correct,
but they don't want to be corrected. In other words, you can correct
all you want, so long as you don’t expect anyone to listen to you. . . .
read the rest of this post on the Web of Language
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
read the Web of Language:
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