If I were advising central banks, tattoo parlours, billboard companies, road sign painters, bespoke clothiers, government press agents, the Royal family or any other outfit that communicates in English, the first thing I’d say is: hire a proofreader.
And if they balked, I’d pull out a wad of Australian moola.
If you missed it, the central bank Down Under was ridiculed this week after a typo was discovered on the back of the $50 bill. Somehow, 46 million copies of the bank note were printed and no one noticed “responsibility” was misspelled – three times! – as “responsibilty.” A triumvirate of missing i’s on one bill?
Crikey. Now that is irresponsible. Did a dingo eat quality control?
But Australia was not alone in botching our beautiful language this week.
On Thursday, the Boston Red Sox were guests at the White House to celebrate their 2018 World Series championship. Scratch that. According to flash bulletins from Donald Trump’s crack PR team, it was the “Boston Red Socks.” And it seems this squad of crimson hosiery foot fetishists won baseball’s ultimate title by secretly playing soccer, since they were also identified as “World Cup Series Champions.”
Me, I will never forget Mookie Betts hammering in that free kick as a jubilant Steve Pearce slid across the pitch while ripping off his scarlet argyles and Mitch Moreland headed an emergency call to Merriam-Webster. If Denver wins it all in the basketball playoffs this spring, I guarantee you the future White House communiqué will read: “The Denver McNuggets Arrive at 1 o’klock to celebrate they’re 2019 Conan O’Brien Championship. This is the MBA’s bigest award!”
In a way, you can’t blame the besieged staffers under President Trump. A leader of any organization sets the standards. If you worked for a landscaping company and the boss relied upon napalm for pruning, the sight of scorched bushes would become normal. You’d love the smell of burnt juniper in the morning.
And what Trump has demonstrated by tweet and garbled word is that accuracy, spelling, grammar and syntax are kindling in a bonfire of gaffes. So what you end up with is a “smocking gun” and insistence that x “played no roll in this.” Come for the “covfefe,” stay for the “hamberders” as you puzzle over “unpresidented,” “honered,” “payed,” “wether,” “tapp” instead of “tap,” “loose” instead of “lose,” “to” instead of “too,” “there” instead of “their” and on and on. It really is a “discgrace,” as Trump once noted, around the same time he renamed his wife, “Melanie.”
Forget about Russia. There is now overwhelming evidence Trump is colluding with a third grader who keeps crashing-and-burning on a remedial spelling test.
Trump recently responded to the Mueller report with a claim that two years of his presidency were “stollen.” Does this mean the first 24 months of his time in office was… a German Christmas bread? Similarly, former game show host Chuck Woolery recently concluded Trump is, “NOT QUILTY.”
This is what happens when the leader of the free world is illiterate. A cultural virus spreads across the planet like a Level 4 contagion until English itself is bleading from every orfiss and people are gorging on duvets.
Last month, an asphalt crosswalk in Florida went viral after a municipal crew painted it with “Scohol.” I suppose that’s one way to get frazzled drivers to slow down: “Hey, this is a scohol zone! I better watch out for kidz!”
Then there was the election billboard in South Africa, which encouraged citizens to vote ANC with a baffling promise: “Let’s Grow South Africa Togher.” Forgetting letters is becoming a popular mistake around the world. Just ask the person in Hong Kong responsible for accidentally emblazoning “CATHAY PACIIC” on the fuselage of one of the company’s commercial planes.
This new epidemic of typos is even infiltrating clothing and skin.
At the Met Gala on Monday, Lena Waithe showed up in a suit with a cursive message on the back: “Black Drag Queens Inventend Camp.” At least, she can ditch the jacket. Shrugging off an error is more problematic when it’s inked onto your body. This week, singer Jessie J became the latest celebrity to enter the dubious ranks of Tattoo Fails when an Instagram post called attention to permanent text on her hip that reads, “don’t loose who you are in the blur of the stars.”
I believe that great advice is what philosophers call cosmick alienashion.
Look, everyone makes mistakes. The other day, I identified the new Royal baby as “Archibald,” instead of “Archie.” But Harry and Meghan are not using a short-form. It’s just “Archie,” as in the comics or the old sitcom racist.
I apologize and regret the error, though perhaps not as much as the Buckingham Palace web-head who initially posted an announcement that no doubt freaked out William and Kate: “Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born at 05:26 on Monday 6th May. He is the first child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge…”
Bring back the proofreaders and the copy editors! Pay them with Australian currency if you must! Offer them an unlimited supply of covfefe and hamberders!
We are loosing who we are in this blur of typos.
Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon
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