Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A matter of degree

When my son read the previous entry, he assured me that it's possible to write in the language of text and use proper grammar simultaneously. I was happy to accept his word on this. Just because I have shown some open-mindedness on the subject of alternative communication doesn't mean that I'm ready to relax my high standards on the proper use – spelling, punctuation, grammar – of language.

It no longer startles me to see frequent errors in the daily newspapers, anything ranging from simple typos to glaring grammatical crimes. I'm more taken aback when I see them in magazines and, I confess, I'm left almost speechless when I see them in reputably published books.

But there are places where I'm taken even more by surprise. Not very long ago, I was stashing a package of toilet tissue into the cupboard when a mis-spelled word jumped right off the wrapping at me. I didn't save it (I regret that) but I'm pretty sure the word was "irresistible" – spelled, of course, "irresistable," one of the regulars on any editorial list of most-often mis-spelled words.

It's odd though that a mistake showing up on a manufacturer's wrapping of a household product should seem more unlikely than if it had appeared in a hard-covered tome on the best-sellers list.

Most recently, it's a television commercial that has come along to test my tolerance level. Even as I complain about this, I wonder why the wrapping on a package of toilet tissue and a TV ad for Tim Hortons should be at the top of my list of unexpected settings for the sins of syntax?

The TV ad is for a sandwich. As the family – in a car, I think – chows down, the father says, "This calls for some soft rock." He turns on the music and it plays Hungry Eyes.

With these hungry eyes
One look at you and I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you and I ...

Well, excuse me. I've lost my appetite. No sandwich for me, thanks.

That'll show 'em.

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