Almost on a daily basis, I encounter a typographical error somewhere on some device or medium. Today, I was reading a wine bottle label that referenced “currents.” While we have a legitimate word with that spelling, this should have been “currants” as one of a list of fruits included in the winemaking.
Yesterday’s occurrence was worse, primarily because it was a television banner. The news story referenced the horrible conditions associated with Hurricane Michael and alluded to “abismal” losses and devastation. The attempt was to describe losses as “abysmal” but as is often the case, the copy eluded the almost careful editing process.
While you might want to accuse me of being overzealous in my editing, I maintain that it’s more than being correct that’s at stake here. (Of course, you would have noticed if I had said “at steak.”) As an educator and editor, I firmly believe that there is value in accuracy. If we intend to perpetuate and utilize our English language, it’s worthwhile to pursue perfection.
While our kids are young, other learning challenges are arguably more important than precision . We want our kids to write their thoughts and conclusions, irrespective of the spelling. But past elementary school levels, I feel strongly that we are legitimate in requiring good spelling and grammar.
In addition to contributing words correctly because we want messages to be interpreted as intended, we are setting what I believe to be the right example for those who emulate us. Several people have commented that they are reticent about writing messages to me because they are concerned that their spelling and grammar are incorrect. To know me at all is to realize that while I can’t claim not to notice, I would never correct anyone unless specifically asked to do so.
And so the conclusion is that I will adamantly defend my right to expect proper usage. Refraining from doing so will not result in total chaos within the English language. But I continue to believe that most people want and need the right means with which to express themselves. For now, that remains my job. Shalom