Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Curse of the Missing Apostrophe

It's taken me a while to own up to this, but I realized recently that I am a grammar-holic and a typo-phobe. It's a real problem. No matter what I'm reading--newspaper, magazine, book or blog--my eyes will undoubtedly fall upon some distracting grammar error, misspelling or careless typo.

And I can't stop looking at it.

I keep analyzing it in my mind...wondering how it happened...wondering how the editors missed it...knowing that I would have caught it...and completely losing the point of whatever I was reading in the first place.

That said, I'm still not nearly overbearing enough to qualify for Grammar Nazi status. I don't call out my friends on these types of mistakes and I don't think less of people who struggle with proper usage. I just find these errors to be mildly unsettling and therefore in need of correction. The more public the transgression, the more unsettling I find it.

I have blogged about public punctuation before, but that was when the NYC transit system properly used a semicolon. Bully for them.

This time it was improper public punctuation that made Chicago headlines, thanks to an absent (but crucial) apostrophe. Since this apostrophe was on the base of a new statue honoring Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks, this story fortuitously features the dovetailing of two of my greatest passions in life--the Chicago Cubs and the proper use of English grammar and punctuation. (Yes, I'm an AP Style nerd who tries to clean it up with my unlimited love of North Side baseball.)

With the aid of a grinding tool, the apostrophe has since been added to Ernie's signature "Let's Play Two!" exclamation and I am wholly satisfied by this. While I might not actively correct a friend's grammar or judge them for their misspellings and typos, I do feel a certain duty to uphold the rules of the English language in all my writing and to quietly correct these sorts of mistakes whenever it's within my power to do so. When I spot a typo in something I've written, I'm immediately shocked by my carelessness and go to heroic lengths to fix it.

On the rare occasion that I'm typing a quick IM message (or--God forbid--sending an English-trouncing text message), I always feel slightly dirty for knowingly breaking the rules through my lazy lack of punctuation and use of "c" for "see."

I've already admitted that it's a problem and I know I should probably lighten up, but the careless self-publishing frenzy of the Internet has only strengthened my resolve to be the one perfectly grammatical blog on the Web. After all, some things are sacred.

Now go find a typo in this post. You cant.

Editor's Note: It's taking every ounce of personal restraint to leave that last sentence as is.


BW said...

You apparently have no qualms about using heroic cliches.

Matt said...

None whatsoever.