Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When grammar Nazis strike

Maggie points out:
Two men in Arizona - self-appointed "grammar vigilantes" - were busted recently on their three-month national tour correcting signage in U.S. National Parks.

Jeff Michael Deck, 28, of Somerville, Mass., and Benjamin Douglas Herson, 28, of Virginia Beach, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff after damaging a rare, hand-painted sign in Grand Canyon National Park. They were sentenced to a year's probation, during which they cannot enter any national park, and were ordered to pay restitution.

Deck and Herson used white-out and a permanent marker to correct a misplaced apostrophe and comma on the sign, which was painted sixty-some years ago by artist Mary Colter. Then, according to Deck's diary, they noticed that the sign also contained a completely fictitious word: "emense."
"I was reluctant to disfigure the sign any further," wrote Deck, "so we had to let the other typo stand. Still, I think I shall be haunted by that perversity."

As part of their sentencing, Deck and Herson are prohibited from entering any national parks for the next year. But what, I ask, will be done about the horrendous use of quotations on park signs? Maybe they can go on a convenience store tour instead.

Note to sign-makers everywhere: Quotations are not meant to add emphasis, and when applied in that manner, actually imply an opposite reality. For example, you probably don't want to suggest that fruit isn't really fresh but only appears to be. Got it?

For further examination of my biggest signage pet peeve (and fun imagining me erupting into peals of giggles while reading), see The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.