Some time ago I was horrified to note that I had inadvertently switched off the spell-check on my e-mail application, and after many attempts, still could not manage to turn in back on. I am a reasonably competent speller, but I’m an idiosyncratic typist at best, prompting properly instructed touch-typists around me to blanche when they see me at my keyboard. I can, however, type with one hand like nobody’s business—a skill developed from propping my head up during late-night editing sessions, and later holding my son (who believed in sleeping on people, not cribs) when he was an infant. I could, I realize, go back and learn to type properly, but I never quite have the time. Plus, I worry that I will suffer a similar fate as an acquaintance of mine, a man who logged in many hours with a golf pro to “unlearn” his poor technique, and promptly took his game to a new, and seemingly irreversible, low. My typing could not tolerate such a setback. I’d be corresponding via crayon.
In any event, I was in the midst of looking through the contents of my “sent folder,” cringing at the assorted errors I made—including spelling my own name Hessica—when I came across this article in Salon. The authors of The Great Typo Hunt traveled across the country, logging misspellings as they went, with delightful results. As we know, I hardly live in a glass house as far as mistakes are concerned, but that doesn’t reduce my pleasure in typo-spotting. “Affect” and “effect” are probably my favorite, followed by misplaced apostrophes, “it’s” and “its,” and “I” for “me,” all the classics. When I lived in Egypt (where as a functional illiterate in the local language I had zero right to judge) I was still delighted with the English language menus, signs, and packages—the latter imported from China—that were chock full of errors and weirdly wonderful turns of phrase. On a package for an action figure called “Bat Knight,” a shameless if not entirely successful clone of the Caped Crusader, the tag line read “Get Ready To Crumble Obscure!” There was a kind of found poetry in the phrase.
Any of you spot some memorable misuses of the language? Also, if anyone knows how to turn spell check in Outlook back on, I’d be grateful.