This Aggression Will Not Stand


Anthony and his friend Vanessa regularly play for at least an hour each day once she gets home from school. And for the most part, despite Vanessa being three years Anthony’s senior, they get along very well.

But something happened yesterday that threw a wrench into their playtime. Whatever it was, Anthony felt that an apology was in order for what had transpired. He did just that and Vanessa replied by leaving the following note in our mailbox:

“Anthony, I except your apology.” They then went back to playing as if nothing happened.

Aw, kids. You gotta love ’em, and can’t really fault Vanessa too much for using the wrong word here since except/accept tends to fall into the same category as affect/effect, complimentary/complementary and to/too. You might even go so far as to add are/our to that list.

Coming from the mind of a child, I can find such a mistake acceptable especially in regards to the situation. Nothing too serious and she wasn’t being graded on it. It was, for the lack of a better term, cute.

Now let’s go back a few days when I found some fliers on my doorstep from a local plumber. I must have been awfully bored that day because I sat down and proofread both of them.

I ended up finding over 30 errors, including:

– One word used twice in succession that didn’t need to be
– The use of a zero not a capital O in the word “0NLY”
– Plenty of redundancies
– The company’s URL listed as “ww.[domain].com” (yes, only two Ws)
– Words having initial caps that shouldn’t

Another great example was a proof a friend of mine got. It was for his restaurant and just about ready to go to the printer. He had me proof it and I found another 15 errors. This would have not looked good because it was for his restaurant’s menu.

Now guys, you know this kind of stuff drives me nuts, especially being unemployed and having proofread in several languages. I just find it astounding that the company that produced these fliers actually let all of these errors go to print.

Seriously, don’t they have any kind of system of proofing in order so that their client doesn’t end up looking like an illiterate moron? Believe it or not, someone like me might actually overlook this plumber just because their flier was so riddled with errors. I wouldn’t trust them to screw in a light bulb let alone fix a pipe if they can’t even convey their message properly.

And that’s a shame since these flubs might not have been the fault of the client. Then again, it’s been my experience in the publishing world that a client always gets a proof to approve before it goes to press. But if they approved it as is, then I guess they really are the illiterate moron I spoke of earlier.

So to those small publishing houses out there, if you don’t have a proofreader on your regular payroll, you should really consider hiring one. If not, enlist the services of a freelancer (raises hand) who might need the work and a few extra bucks in his pocket. We won’t let you down, and promise not to make you or your client look like complete idiots when your ad, your sales pitch, is distributed around the neighborhood. Presentation IS everything.

The same goes for you, advertisers. Send your proof to a qualified proofreader before you send it back to the publisher. Another set of eyes never hurt anybody.

This is what we do. This is what we live for.

And this aggression will not stand, man.

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4 thoughts on “This Aggression Will Not Stand

  1. In regards to plumbers having poor literary skills, so what? If the guy can fix a leaky pipe, that’s all that matters. My father (okay, he’s not a plumber but he knows what he’s doing) finished the basement in his house. He did all the plumbing by himself. He did a fine job. He also did most of the carpentry, all the drywall, all of the tiling, all of the painting, all of the insulating. He is a very skilled handyman. But his English sucks. He’s been living in an English language community for over forty years and still has a hard time with the language. But you hand the guy a tool belt, and he’ll build you a house.

    But yeah, there’s a lot of English majors coming out of university and working at McDonalds flipping burgers. Maybe printers could hire them to proofread flyers.

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    • In regards to your dad, yeah, I can see that. My father-in-law is the McGyver of handymen since he could raise a barn with nothing more than a hammer, nails, and 30 minutes. (As far as wood goes, well, that’s why he’s McGyver-ish.) He’s not exactly an English major but he does get the job done–and well. But the difference is that he’s not advertising his skills to an audience with a paper he expects will bring him business; he’s just a handyman that people can trust.

      And you gotta understand my side. I’ve always had a knack for pointing out spelling and grammatical errors since I was young, which means that becoming a writer and then proofreader was definitely not an accident. Having worked in said occupations, it was of paramount importance that the spelling and grammar be spot-on before going to press because we weren’t talking about fliers being flung on someone’s porch, we’re talking about ads costing thousands of dollars that would be seen nationwide or around the world. In that case, nobody wants or deserves to look like an idiot and in some cases, even the smallest error could mean the difference between getting a call or not. My former co-worker/writer/proofreader/regular blog reader Tony would agree.

      Would a mistake squeak by us now and then? I’m sure they did, but not 30 on the same flier. I just get a little pissed being out of work when I’m seeing this and many other travesties of the English language on a daily basis. Or maybe I just need to tone myself down a bit…(calm blue ocean…calm blue ocean…)

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  2. Remind me to block you from my blog. hehe. I guess you’ll just have to deal with it. Haha. So it’s funny you posted this. I just happened to snap a phone pic of an ad that was displayed at a Shell gas station for Break Service. Nice.

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    • Ya know, a simple flub now and then is acceptable. Really, it is. Lord knows that in all my years of proofing, one or two went through during each cycle. In fact, I noticed the O/0 thing in an issue of The Smithsonian Magazine, so nobody is really immune.

      But come on, now…all those mistakes on a one-page ad? UNACCEPTABLE! 🙂

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