or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Curse of the Hyphen

Yesterday I mentioned the bitter irony of an error-laced artwork at a public library in Livermore, California, and here's another. At the local Chapters, which is a large Canadian bookstore chain, there's a display unit near the entrance containing bookplates and other accoutrements for a home library. (The display features a kit that I can't make up my mind about; it contains a stamp pad and a date stamp and a bunch of old-fashioned cards that slip into pockets you place in the front or back of the book, so that when you lend out books to friends, they know when they're due back. On the one hand, it's charming and retro, but on the other hand, it's a little grim, because it suggests you don't trust your friends, even though we've all lent out books and never gotten them back; the rule is, if you can't live without it, you don't ever lend it.) Above this collection of buyables is the following sign:

Set-up your library

They aren't teaching hyphenation in schools any more, are they? Nobody seems to know what they are; nobody seems to know how to use them. Nobody seems to know that when you hyphenate a verb and a preposition, you turn them into something that is no longer a verb.

On the way home from the depressing bookstore, I saw a professionally made sign at a small independent used-car dealership that read, "Trade in's welcomed!" Two punctuation errors in the same word: a very impressive accomplishment. I wish someone at the signmaker's shop had alerted the dealer of the mistake before the sign was committed to plastic, but it's no crime (irritating and wrong though it is). To see such a sign at a bookstore. a temple of literacy, though; that's absolutely inexcusable.


Blogger The Blow(g) said...

Although I still haven't found enough time to read the whole blog I liked it a lot. Specially because you seem to be very interested in language. So am I. In fact, I'm studying to be an english teacher and I'm very interested in both english and spanish language. Actually, I'm interested in language as a subject, but english and spanish are the ones which I can speak.

Monday, October 17, 2005 7:59:00 PM  

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