Friday, March 4, 2011

Miscellaneous: Illiteracy, Laziness, and You

So I'm looking through art books just for fun, and a little inspiration, when I come across this little gem:

Great Book of Dragon Patterns: The Ultimate Design Sourcebook for Artists and Craftspeople

If you flip through the available pages on the "Look Inside!" popup, when you get to Chapter One, second paragraph it reads:

      "Because the dragon is created from man's imagination, his body shape, adornments, skin texture, color, and even his environment are open to the interruption of the crafter."

Obviously the word in bold is supposed to be "interpretation".  I spotted this in five seconds from a crappy, blurry scan in a PDF document.  What the hell?  How does this make it to print?  I'll tell you... cheapness, and laziness. 

I've seen a ton of misspellings, punctuation errors, weird paragraph splits (typesetters not watching what they're doing) in recent works.  This is not just printed works, but eBooks too.  As a whole, the literary industry in the US has gotten sloppy, lazy, or so overworked they can't take the time because publishing companies are too cheap to hire help.

Some published spelling or contextual errors are because someone just runs a spell-checker and calls it good.  Some are because there's a deplorable lack of standards in this country for education, and since everyone is equally poorly-educated, no one notices the error.

Yes, I have my blind spots and persistent errors when it comes to my own writing.  I'm not saying I'm perfect.  But when it's your job to make sure that things are spelled correctly, shouldn't you do so?  When it's your job to catch when an author uses "your" and "you're" interchangeably, and correct it, shouldn't you know how to do that?  Not relying on a piece of software, but to look at it with your OWN EYES?

And for some of you, this may seem like a trivial concern.  "Who cares?" you may ask.  I have seen huge fights break out (okay, on the internet, but still) over a misspelling because *one letter* totally changed the context of what the person wrote.  I'm talking a reaction where the cops were almost called to crack down on this guy in real life because people thought something disturbingly illegal was going on.  One letter.  And the problem with allowing misspellings in books is that it's not just one misspelling... it's one misspelling on millions of copies, exposed to millions of readers.

And trust me when I say this... when you read a misspelling often enough, you start thinking it's the correct way to spell it.

If you care about this sort of thing, and you spot errors in published works (especially published works you've paid for yourself) bring it to the attention of the publishing house.  Let them know that you, the reader, have standards.  Maybe they'll develop standards of their own.


  1. No my friend,

    "Because the dragon is created from man's imagination, his body shape, adornments, skin texture, color, and even his environment are open to the interruption of the crafter."

    See because the dragon is a fictional creature, one can "interrupt" his body shape...with their fantastic mind. If you don't know what "interrupting a body" is, then you're not familiar with the ways of dragons.

    Seriously, that's the most ridiculous thing I've seen in awhile. I struggle with proper grammar, spelling and sentence structure, so for a copy editor and the publisher to let that make it to print, then shame on them!

  2. Maybe, since it's primarily an art book and an artist's resource, they got sloppy with the words. Or like many of us with too much work and not enough time, they skimmed through and only saw that it was spelled correctly, without giving a thought to context. I don't know. But yes, it's the most ridiculous mistake in a printed work that I've seen in the last few months, and I have seen a few whoppers from people who should know better.