Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

The Great Typo Hunt tells the story of a road trip across the U.S. to on a mission to fix typos in signs of all kinds.
From the back cover: The Great Typo Hunt is a humorous tale of adventure, misplaced apostrophes, and the open road. It describes how we took a two-and-a-half month drive around the United States to fix typos in public signage, toting an arsenal of typo correction that included markers, Wite-Out, and chalk—and how we were later summoned to federal court for defacing a historic sign at the Grand Canyon.
Besides detailing the comical adventures of typo correcting, the book shows how the pursuit of typos led us to broader social issues, such as cultural homogenization, race relations, workplace repression, and education. There have been books about spelling and grammatical errors, and there have been books about quixotic road trips, but ours is the first to combine the two—not to mention the first book about fixing typos rather than complaining about them.
A book about adventurous exploits with plenty of grammatical swashbuckling!
Please, whatever the sign says, don't let your dogs smoke!

In referring to signs they saw and corrected that have since been destroyed:
"Maybe the actual moment of noticing, of caring, is itself the important part, regardless of what may come after. An observation that speaks to much more than misspelled signage, but works as a poignant comment on the work and life as a whole."(page 87)

All in all I enjoyed this book. I found myself not noticing most errors upon my first glance and then mentally  kicking myself once the authors pointed them out.  They were obvious errors and by the end of the novel I was newly confused about the proper use of its/it's due to the abundance of misuse in the typos they found throughout their journey.  When you look at a word long enough, even the correct ones start to appear, well, wrong.

The humour, whether wry, or stemming from confusion or plain frustration, was a welcome light in this grammatical landscape. Responses largely fell into three categories: defensive, helpful and apathetic  What I enjoyed most, surprisingly to me, were the many discussions concerning the genesis and impact of both typos and their corrections.

Their blog features details about their typo eradication missions and invites submissions from the public who have found their own examples typos.  Here are a few:
For your inoculation against chimneys. (found by Valerie A. at a grocery store in Columbia, Missouri)

An interesting combination (found by David J. in Albany)

from greattypohunt.com
from howlingfrog.blogspot.com
After finishing the book, I am tempted to invest in a supply of Sharpies and risk correcting mistakes I see daily. Honestly though, I don't have the bravery? moxie? to actually do it. 
 Would you?

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