It drove me nuts that my local gym had a complete disregard for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The most irritating signs involved the inappropriate use of quotation marks, and, worst of all, these were the ones that littered the entire gym. Normally, poor spelling doesn’t get me this much; if the world was made up of perfect linguists, I’d be out of a job. What bothered me the most was that when I brought up the issue with the gym management, they shrugged me off.
“This just boils down to a difference between American and Canadian English, and since we’re an American company, we don’t have to address these issues. Thanks for your concern, though,” said the management nonchalantly.
I vowed to go over their heads.
I guess what really bugged me is that the mistakes didn’t bug them. Didn’t they care about language? Or was I actually the crazy one, for caring a little too much?
To feel normal again, I posted pictures of the signs in an editors’ group on Facebook. Within a few hours, I received dozens of witty responses. Other people cared! And the mistakes really did make the signs unclear! Other editors offered comical misinterpretations.
But do most people care, or are those who value perfect English in the minority? Moreover, what is perfect English, anyway?
Social media has created an entirely new dialog of English. The use of abbreviations that’s accompanied instant messaging has created a new vocab unknown to those who lived before the digital era. “Lol” is an entry on Dictionary.com. What is considered acceptable English depends on the audience.
That being said, there’s a difference between slang or social media lingo, and improper English. I personally love to speak informally with my friends or on social media. While I may not use a word like “YOLO” on my term paper, it is not incorrect to use such a word in certain social settings. On the other hand, there is a hard-and-fast difference between “receive” and “recieve,” which is namely that one of the two words is misspelled. This is true regardless of whether you are a Canadian typing a Tweet or an American writing a business report. There will always be some people who find these mistakes important to address and others who just don’t care.
As for what happened with the gym, I had to cancel my membership. Those signs really drove me up the wall.