Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surely you've seen this by now...

It's all over the web and I've had no less than 5 friends send me a link. This company will be famous for this gaffe, which has been corrected, according to news reports.

Still, how do you mess this up? "Skool" I could perhaps see. That's phonetic. But "shcool"? It takes a team to paint these letters. No one was watching? Yes, I know the answer is, "Obviously not".

The photo is being used as an indictment of the American education system whereby non spellers are allowed to pass through unchallenged. That's not what this says to me. It says that there was no oversight as this was done. Perhaps there was a person on the team who had difficulty spelling. Dyslexics are among us. There are people who cannot write what they read without extreme difficulty. I know several people who fall into this category. They write phonetically, or at least, how it sounds to them. They are brilliant people but they can't write.

Perhaps there was a member of this painting crew with that problem. Where was the rest of the crew? The joke would be, asleep in the truck, if it's anything like a regular road crew. One guy does the work and the rest "supervise". I just think we're not getting the full extent of the story here. There is fault, to be sure, but I don't think it lies with an "unconscious" misspelling.

This book was just released. NPR had an excellent interview with the authors. (The book is going on my Christmas list.) Some of what they experienced can be traced to a failure of the education system to teach language. Some of it is laziness and "I don't care". Some of it can be attributed to our convoluted language itself. There is a rhyme about that. I can't find it but it talks about how difficult it is for a non-English speaker to learn this language. Paraphrased, the rhyme is:
The plural of house is houses but the plural of mouse is not mouses.
The plural of goose is geese but the plural of moose is not meese.
I remember, when my ex and I lived in Bloomington, Indiana while he studied for his MBA, we befriended a couple from Taiwan. He spoke very good English. She spoke little to no English. He practically begged me to take his wife around and speak the English words to her so she would learn what they were.

She was a very quick study. I hit upon the idea of spending an afternoon at the local Waldenbooks in the kids' section. We sat down on the floor and we paged through all the "ABC" books. We purchased three of them and went back to the apartment. While he cooked a phenomenal Chinese feast, she and I played Scrabble, or a modified version of Scrabble. All the tiles were turned up, I taped paper over the names of the items in the books and then made words from selected images. She was to match the name to the picture. It was somewhat frustrating at first because some of the images, she didn't know. She didn't know "apron" or that the image of a Mallard was a duck. Ducks are white where she was from. After a full afternoon and evening of laughter and conversation and great food, she thanked me profusely for helping her get started.

The month after graduation, they were gone back to Taiwan. By this time, she had learned quite a bit from watching TV and being involved in the Taiwanese student group. But she always said she was so grateful to me for taking time to teach her basic language. And to try to answer her questions so she got it without making her feel stupid.

The above photo reflects very poorly on the painting company, period. If it really is a case of someone who cannot spell, that person either needs remedial help or to not be in charge of anything other than straight lines or painting AFTER someone else who can spell has laid out the words. I still lean toward bad supervision.

I leave you with this, the best commercial about typos.

Beverage: Water


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