This title is from an actual sign posted in a Disney hotel several years ago –a sign that haunts me to this day.
As an above average speller from an early age and a college English major I possess a little bit of knowledge and, as we all know, that can be a dangerous thing. I am the first to point out grammar and spelling mistakes and often take perverse pleasure in finding and correcting them.
In my adult years these tendencies have taken on an obsessive nature. I stress over the utilization of correct spelling, punctuation and grammar even in my Facebook status updates and am maddened when others do not. Your v. you’re, there v. their, the proper use of it’s – these common errors are cringe worthy to me.
I came late to the phenomenon of text messaging as I could not, in good conscience, type a quick message on my phone without first learning how to include capital letters, commas, periods and exclamation points. It took some time for me to find the punctuation keys, but I did and wish everyone would invest that time. Sadly, one of my favorite pastimes is looking for typos in closed captioning, signs, news reports, restaurant menus, websites and magazines. Trust me they abound.
While you might not think that the meeting planning profession affords many opportunities for a compulsive like myself to feed her obsession, I’ve found plenty. Over the years I have edited brochure copy, press releases, marketing flyers, website copy, email invitations and myriad other print pieces. In my spare time I also edited everyone else’s writing – letters, memos, emails – whether they asked me to or not.
On-site at a meeting no one is immune – I am not only the planner but the self-appointed editing/proofing/grammar dictator. I don’t discriminate between signage, BEOs, reader boards; I correct them all. If I get the opportunity to sit in on a presentation slide review I will share my two cents on the slide deck as well – it’s probably not a coincidence that I don’t sit in slide review very often.
Food labeling is my favorite; I not only check for spelling errors and grammar; matching the food served is also critical (don’t advertise white chocolate truffles if the chef felt like making dark chocolate that day). If the labels are wrong – I send them back.
On a recent reception buffet an appetizing display of hummus was labeled as humus. A quick check of Dictionary.com defined humus as: the dark organic material in soils, produced by the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter and essential to the fertility of the earth. Undoubtedly an important substance, but hardly appropriate with pita and chips. The hummus stayed, the sign went.
In my illustrious career of on-site editing I have rejected food labels that:
- Described carrots as julienne instead of julienned
- Identified potatoes as mash and not mashed
- Advertised the salad as ceaser instead of Caesar
- Accompanied desserts with whip cream instead of whipped cream
- Promised the chef’s choice of deserts instead of desserts
- Offered box lunches and ice tea instead of boxed lunches and iced tea
- Started the day with Belgium waffles instead of Belgian waffles
- And many more too countless to mention
So, if you happen to spot me standing over a buffet intent on something other than the food, walk away – I’m just feeding my obsession.
Image: Kent W
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