or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Personal Affront

Here's a mesmerizing graphic depiction of the U.S. budget that you could lose yourself in for quite a while, among all the insanely large, incomprehensible quantities of money (and the horrifying U.S. national debt, in the neighbourhood of nine trillion dollars). But what's that just over there, to the left, above the Department of Defense logo?

Personelle 42.6 Billion

Now, if you didn't know how to spell "personnel", "personelle" is probably how you'd try it. (They're pronounced the same.) But you'd be wrong. "Personel" is the masculine adjective that's the French equivalent of English "personal", and "personelle" is the feminine equivalent of it. But French is French and English is English.

"Personnel" is originally from French, and it means "employees" or "staff", but it isn't spelled like either French word, neither of which is used in English, and--you've heard this before--this is the reason spellcheckers were invented.

What makes the misspelling worse is that over to the left of it and elsewhere on the page as well, "personnel" is spelled correctly. That's not supposed to happen in edited copy, particularly when someone spent quite a lot of money having it made into large, attractive educational posters. Educational materials shouldn't contain typos. (There's at least one other, too: "Chinnook" for "Chinook" at the top. But I didn't go into it looking for typos.)


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