Thursday, July 24, 2008

When a Typo's More Than a Typo

Being an English teacher is great. We get to read and talk about literature and call it a job. We even have a legitimate excuse (and sometimes a tax deduction) for the books that we continue to buy, even when the bookshelves overflow and the nightstand is stacked with a year’s worth of reading.

But there is a problem, and I’m not talking about all the freshman comp essays we have to grade. It’s that our words, both printed and spoken, are always on display. Yes, of course, we know where the comma goes and when to use a semi-colon. We know the difference between “lie” and “lay,” when to use “affect” rather than “effect.” But our fingers fly over the keyboard in automatic mode, too, and occasionally we only notice our mistake after we’ve made and distributed fifty copies of the handout or blurted out the wrong word in a room full of people. And believe me, we feel the shame.

Imagine the stress level. It raises the pushing of the “Post Blog” button to a whole new level.

Come on, show a little mercy. English teachers are people too! :-)

P.S. Although here I’m begging for mercy, I have to admit that I, too, am a member of the Grammar Police. I circle typos in the books I’m reading. I shake my head and say, “Can you believe that?” when I see a sign with a misspelling or an out-of-place apostrophe. I even silently wish people had let me proofread their PowerPoint before their presentation. Maybe it's in our DNA.

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