Saturday, March 12, 2005

Score One for Me

I am not obsessive compulsive. At least most of the time. I do like a certain order in things, but I generally don't let others' disorder get to me. But there are things that affect me like fingernails on a chalkboard and bad grammar is one of them.

About two weeks ago a notice was put up at every exit to our office building to advise us of electrical work that was to be performed today (Saturday the 12th). It was a long advisory, and it probably could have made the Guinness Book of World Records for the most grammatical errors in one memo. I stood it as long as I could. (About 2 hours.) On my ride to the 2nd floor after lunch, in the world's slowest elevator, I took it upon myself to correct the grammatical errors on the notice that had been posted inside the elevator. Yeah, I knew it would probably start something, but I couldn't help myself.

There were two primary problems that I addressed. The power was to be out from "approximate 7AM to approximate 5PM". I added "ly" to both. We were all cautioned to take care of electrical equipment and refrigerators that would be "effected" by the outage. That one was repeated later on and made my teeth grind in horror. We won't even talk about the spelling errors. Suffice it to say, the notice was liberally covered with ink by the time I got back to my floor. And no, I didn't sign my name. I'm not stupid.

Having satisfied my obsessive compulsion, I forgot about the thing. Until I left to go home. Then I discovered that my corrections had been "re-corrected" to note that I was in error on all counts except the obvious spelling errors. I reacted like a bull to a waving red cape.

I proceeded to re-correct the re-corrections, and noted the grammatical reasons. "I beg to differ", I wrote, "effect = noun; affect = verb" and the use of the word approximate, I noted, was as an "adverb, and therefore requires ly". I didn't leave a whole lot of blank space for anybody to disagree with me again.

The next morning I was not surprised to see that the paper and ink battlefield had been removed from the elevator. I confessed my actions to several who work with me, who weren't at all surprised that I was the culprit who started the whole thing. I let it go at that point and refrained from correcting any of the other numerous notices that still littered the building exits. I had chosen the most public place to make my stand and I knew that virtually everyone in the building had seen it.

Yesterday afternoon new notices were posted all around to remind us of the electrical work to be done. This one had the same general cautions, but correctly used the words "approximately" and "affected". "Ah, ha varlet", I thought. Then I noticed the tiny print at the bottom of the notice. "Special thanks to the English Teacher who corrected the errors on my previous notice." Followed by a smiley face.

Okay, my grammar isn't always perfect. So if you catch errors, feel free to point them out. (You'd better be right, though, or it's swords at dawn.) I lived with two English majors (my mother and brother), have a former English teacher as an aunt, a professional writer as an uncle, and came within 3 hours of having an English minor myself. I may not have any talent at all on the athletic field (see previous post), but I'm not too shabby when it comes to grammar.

So score one for me. I love it when I win.


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