Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Watch Your Online Spelling

Many years ago I was the technical specialist on an engineering project for the Royal Air Force.  Not only did I monitor the technical specification, the design development, the manufacture and the testing programme but I had to review the deliverable technical documents.   Imagine the smile on my face when I read the formal proposal included the memorable line 'and we will ensure the documents will be checked for correct spelling and grammer [sic]'.  I can't say my response to that specification ensured that I didn't have to return too many submissions for spelling and grammatical errors, but I'm sure that the supplier at least tried to trap the more obvious ones.

I probably took more pleasure out of that typo than I should have.  I guess it was the irony.  It seems I'm not the only spelling monitor on the block, though.  A Twitter account, @yourinamerica, has sprung up and is dedicated to literally one spelling error that turns up often enough in Social Media, the use of 'your' instead of 'you're'.  Now it doesn't take a lot of trawling through Twitter to find a whole lot of similar spelling issues and don't get me started on Facebook...

But the interesting thing about this is not that someone felt incensed enough to spend their evenings spanking Twitter users for one specific typo - let's not forget that many Tweets are made on mobile phones so some slack could be let out to the offenders - however after three days and sixty remonstrating Tweets the account had attracted 8000 followers.  Eight thousand people felt sufficiently moved to search out and push the Follow button.  Of all the millions of Twitter subscribers out there, with the exception of the celebrity accounts it is almost unheard of that degree of success in attracting Followers.  That's a lot of  Schadenfreunde.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves By: Lynne Truss

When Mashable reported the story it opened a floodgate of comments and probably swelled the Follow list of @yourinamerica even more - I didn't follow as I'm in the UK and anyway the subject matter is too narrow for me.  Not that Twitter users aren't strangers to narrow subject matters!  However the comments indicated that there's scope for dozens of similar Twitter accounts.  I'm not sure we need one for every misspelling trend, but seeing as 'your versus you're' is already trending, why not?

If you want a one-stop nuclear option to spelling gaffes, though, then why not add a link to Lynne Truss' 'Eat Shoots and Leaves' book?  You could Tweet the link if you're feeling brave!


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