As a former journalist, I have to say, I am a bit of a stickler for spelling and grammar. That said, I am also aware that language evolves and grows to encompass new words and spellings, which at first may seem an abomination to the English language (‘gawjus’ just makes me shudder) and then they become more bearable (I hope).
What concerns me more is that people don’t know when a word is spelt wrong and don’t seem to be referring to dictionaries any more (online or otherwise). No one expects anyone to know how to spell everything correctly, and everyone is prone to the odd typo, but when youngsters are writing job applications littered with spelling mistakes and are seemingly unaware of their mistakes, it’s a sad state of affairs.
When sentences don’t make sense, for instance when there are missing apostrophes that change the meaning or someone has chosen the wrong ‘there’, ‘their’ or ‘they’re’, it really bugs me. Especially if it’s an organisation/person we expect to do things right and set a good example.
Which is why I was drawn to an article in the Guardian this week about Cambridge city council which has reversed its ban on apostrophes on street signs and road names. Reading it just led to the question (in rather a high pitched voice): “Why on earth would you ban apostrophes?”
The answer is apparently because it could confuse emergency services. I have no idea what that means. Now, Tim Bick, leader of the council, said an “executive decision” has been taken to make clear that for future street names “we will not be obliged to avoid proper punctuation”. Thank goodness, how do we expect anyone to know how to spell or punctuate if all the signs around them are wrong?
Fortunately, here at Active PR, we are all former journalists and we’re interested in upholding the English language without being too stuffy about it. So if you’re looking for someone to write a press release, advertorial, speech, blog or manage a social media account, we’re well placed to do it. We also know where the dictionary is…