Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Really quite shocking grammar fails

Really, it's astonishing what errors you can find on printed material. In many cases it shows a real lack of any care at all. Take this photo:
It's a poster for the Xmas party nights on at Newcastle City Hall. This is a local government poster, then, which goes some way towards explaining it; it was almost certainly made by someone with inadequate training, low salary and even less interest in doing it well.

Let's look at what's wrong with it.

  1. Apostrophes in decades are not correct - it should be 70s, for instance, not 70's. But this is a minor quibble that we can overlook - it used to be the way it was done, after all. 
  2. There's also a missing apostrophe in 'What's On...'. 
  3. More worrying is that the nights are advertised as 'part nights' - one hopes that they mean 'party nights'. And they do it three times, clearly a copy and paste compound error. 
  4. John Isaacs and hid Big Band night? No. Seriously, just because the spell-checker doesn't think there's a problem, doesn't mean you can get away without proof-reading. 
  5. A confusing lack of punctuation means that it's hard to parse 'Why not have your drinks waiting for you on arrival by pre ordering contact 0191...'
It's a pretty shoddy attempt all round, so I don't think I'll bother going to any of their events.

Arguably worse is a form I have cause to use from time to time, a pay claim form from one of my employers. It's a form from a university, an institute of higher education, and it contains two glaring errors:

  1. Are you currently employed by the University OTHER THEN as a Part-time Lecturer? [Caps original] - a common error to substitute then for than, but not one that a university should be making.
  2. Have you ever been before employed by this university? - before should not be placed in that position (it can go after ever, or finally, but not there). 
On the back, in the notes section, one of the instructions is that Deadlines are unavoidable. I think it means that you mustn't miss them, but it sounds more like a fact of life than an instruction.

But the worst thing of all about this is that these errors have been left unchanged for several years, despite them having been told about it. I know that none of this is really the end of the world, it doesn't really matter, but it does betray the fact that written English is often extremely poor and no one gives two hoots about it.

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