Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Oh What A Dork Am I!

I'm a word-geek. This means all kinds of things in my daily life--for instance, I hardly ever leave the house without reading and writing materials. When I do leave the word-supplies at home, I usually regret it--I crave word input (and I guess, in the case of writing, output) like a junkie craves that next fix and the withdrawal symptoms aren't pretty. One of the other things my addiction means is that I proofread everything, everywhere. This is truly a curse. To find typos about which you can do absolutely nothing is the second-worst form of torture for a word-geek. (The first being making a typo and realizing it after it's too late to do anything about it.)

Then there are the mistakes that can't even be blamed on typos--the grammar, usage, spelling errors that are absolutely everywhere and make a word-geek cringe. I'm not talking about icky-picky things like ending a sentence in a preposition--I'm talking about things like the church sign I saw over the weekend. It said: "The Ten Commandments are not an option."

This has been driving me crazy for the past thirty-six hours. I actually took the long way on an errand today so I could avoid driving by the church and seeing the sign all over again. Clearly, the minister means to highlight the fact that the Commandments, as the first two-thirds of their name implies, are requirements and not a list of helpful suggestions. What he means is that following the Commandments is not a choice, but a necessity. What he's said is that following the Commandments is not among the choices available to us.

There are two things that scare me about this sign. The first is that presumably no one in the congregation of the church has taken the minister aside and said, "Listen, what you mean is 'The Ten Commandments are not optional.' " That means either no one noticed or everyone's afraid of the minister. The second scary thing is this is not the first time this church has had this message on their sign. Sometime last year, I noticed that another church in town had the message "The Ten Commandments are not optional." on its sign. The very same day, the sign on the offending church said, "The Ten Commandments are not an option." I said to my sister, "Oooh they must subscribe to the same Church Sign Newsletter*." And then we discussed the mistake the second minister had made by apparently trying to stand out from the church-sign crowd.

The scariest thing about this whole situation by far, though, is how bad it all gets to me. I have always known I was a dork, but the true depth and breadth of my dorkiness has only begun revealing itself to me.

*I was only joking about the Church Sign Newsletter, but I stumbled upon this website this weekend and it turns out that church signs are quite an industry and making fun of them a popular pastime.


  1. Being a dork is not an option.

  2. You made this dork snort out loud! Thanks! (I think.)

  3. I am exactly the same way.

    I've seen businesses with expensive signs that read, for example, "Uptown Shoe's". One would think the signmaker would have pointed out this mistake before making the sign.

    When my son was in school, the teachers often sent me notes full of errors:

    "Your son is making too much NOICE and is DISTIRUBING the class"


    "All rules will be "STRICKLY" enforced."

    I always red-pencilled such notes and sent them back with him the next day.

  4. I'm a word and grammar geek, too. Many, many things in this arena bug me to no end, but the worst is when the name of a business or product is intentionallly misspelled, ostensibly to make it more "catchy," or clever. Like the restaurant Kountry Kitchen. Arg! Is this supposed to appeal to the illiterate? What is catchy or clever about bastardizing the language? I shake my fist at you, Kountry Kitchen!

  5. Ah yes, these things drive me nuts as well. One that really bugs me, and I hear it often, is when people see something disgusting and exclaim, "I'm nauseous" when, of course, what they mean is they are "nauseated". However, after arguing with them for a few minutes as to why they are mistaken, I begin to think they are correct as they are definitely the cause of my nausea.

  6. Heh, regarding the nausea thing, I actually made a point of correcting this in a bit of dialogue in a novel I wrote. It goes thus, He: "Why do you keep looking at me like you're nauseous, or something?" She: "Nauseated," she corrected him. "We need to be clear on who is making whom sick here."