"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for approval, I can tell you I don't have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills -- skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you leave my language alone right now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will punctuate you."

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Sometimes during my lunch break at the transient center, I like to wander the nearby halls of academia. One of my favorite buildings houses art and design classes. There are always many interesting things to look at on the walls and in display cases and even a small gallery. In fact, it's not the only building devoted almost wholly to arty things. What a lot of proud parents there must be out there.

This blue-print-like drawing of some sort of domicile and its landscaping in a display case included a rather glaring "typo". I wonder if it brought down the student's score, or if the instructor even noticed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No Kidding

The concept of "kids" seems to cause a lot of apostrophe confusion for a lot of people. I see so many signs that say things like "kids menu".

I assume this one is trying to say that this is a sale of items for babies and larger children, and not that they're actually selling infants and children. "Kid's" is obviously wrong, unless everything there is for one specific child. But how would you rewrite this to make it accurate and consistent? My suggestion would be "babies' and kids' sale. What's your take?

This is a detail from the first picture. This business seems to have a chronic apostrophe problem.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


So there's this movie called "On These Shoulders We Stand". It's about the early gay rights movement. It looks pretty interesting, and here's a link to the trailer on YouTube.

Although it's a couple of years old, I hadn't heard of it until I saw this marquee downtown:


 Not only is the first E missing from "these", but if you look closely you'll see that the S  is a 5. I hope their excuse is that they were running out of all the needed letters.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I am going also miss you

Rimpy Jr. sent me this via cell phone. I think this one is interesting because when people make a to/too mistake, it almost always seems to be writing "to" when they meant "too", rather than the other way around.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


It often happens that people who do business as purveyors of the printed word are not really qualified for the post, as evidenced by engraver Moore here, and the person who made this sign for him or her. The former did not catch the mistake (or care), and the latter just plain made the mistake.

I'm willing to bet that if I paid a visit to Moore's establishment, I would find other mistakes of this nature in the samples of their work. I did once visit a similar business here in College Town, and I was astounded by the number of errors in their signs. Errors that should have been eliminated by paying attention in grade school. That was long before I started this blog, and I've toyed with the idea of going back there and sneaking a few pics. You'll be the first to know if I do.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Enlarge Our Staff

My names is Dennis E. and I am writing you. I take a position as a manager for work with clients at Comvitabs.
We are expanding for new members to enlarge our staff. We received your resume on geographyjobs.ca and picked you from all of the remaining candidates. We looked into your professional qualifications and confermed to the requirements for the job that we suggest.
At this very moment I would like to declare that your qualifications have been chosen for the place we have recently started.
We will provide you with a very well-paid job offer and your premium depends on the volume of information worked out by you which also contains of a flexible time-table.
If you like this offer please write back a message to me back as soon as possible.
P.S. The ammount of offers is limited

Hope to get your answer soon,
Dennis E.

The preceding italicized message is exactly how I recieved it in my email, with the exception that I shortened Dennis' last name to just the initial, in case there really is such a person. There is a "geographyjobs.ca" (the "ca" is for Canada), which I may have signed up for when I was diligently and desperately searching for geospatial data work. There is also a comvitabs.com, which was for a legitimate looking company called Comvita Business Solutions. Their website, however, also contained some odd English:

We employ Operations Clerk who can direct and coordinate organization's financial and budget activities.
WTo be successful for this role you must be able to demonstrate a proven ability in the field and be self motivated to get the job done within a team environment.
If you have the skills and experience, and would welcome the opportunity of working for Comvita's premier membership organization, please apply for an immediate confidential interview. 

The crazy writing of Dennis' message gave me the feeling that I must be dealing with something along the lines of Nigerian scammers. The email had a return address of  <[Denni's' name](at)comvitabs.com>.  At first I thought that surely even clever scammers couldn't appropriate a real person's email account at a real company, but Wikipedia claims that indeed they can.

These scammers must profit from these scams, or they wouldn't keep doing them. I hate to give naughty people ideas, but why hasn't it occurred to them to hire some unscrupulous person who can write intelligible English? (I might be available, as long as I can work from home in my spare time).


I apologize for the poor quality of this image. I shot it through the windshield of my car, and it looks like the camera was trying to focus on the semi-opaque glass (thanks to the various trees I park under at both work and home which drip sticky stuff on my car).

Anyway, the sign says "SALEM AND FIRST ST. UNDER CONSTION". It then goes on to assure us that local businesses are open during this "constion", whatever that may be. And I thought it had to do with all the road work going on in downtown College Town.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ay, Chiwawa!

Once, when Step-Rimpyette was young (although not quite young enough to excuse it), she had not previously seen the word "chihuahua" written, and she read it aloud as "chi-who-uh who-uh"). We all had a good laugh.

The other day I spotted the "chiwa..." portion of this sign from my bus, and drove to the location in my private automobile today to investigate and document. Not only was the spelling completely phonetic, but the particular mix was amazing, as well. I hope the parent chihuahua was the daddy, and if so, I'm guessing he had to stand on a chair.

This all reminded me of this internet gem. I'll let you decide if it's for real or not.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Sometimes my cable/internet provider sends messages to us via our cable box, which can be viewed right on our TV. This probably seems pretty banal to most of you, but in my childhood, TV was so very, very basic that some of today's innovations still seem pretty amazing to me. I remember when he we got our first color television. I was horrified when a black and white movie appearred on one of the three channels then available to us. I began frantically twisting random knobs in an attempt to add color to this abomination.

Later we got the new technology of cable, and I was no longer at the mercy of those paltry three channels. Remote controls existed, but the only people I knew who had one were our next door neighbors from Canada, so I thought they were some sort of exotic technology only available to the foreign-born.

So, being a child of the '60s, and something of a doof besides, I still get kind of excited when I see the little red light on the front of our cable box that indicates we have a message. I grab the remote (no doubt from Canada) and press the necessary sequence of buttons to view the missive.  And I'm usually disappointed because it's just an announcement of some upcoming pay-per-view cage fighting event or information about a channel line-up change.

On at least one occasion the information was personally relevant and actually useful. We had just moved into our apartment, and we were having a lot of First World problems trying to get all our wonderful technology up and running in the new domicile. We had the cable hooked up, but couldn't get any channels. Then a message appeared, informing us that Comcast was experiencing outages and giving an approximate time frame for a solution to the problem. We were relieved to know it wasn't just our own incompetence (of which there was plenty, let me tell you).

Today's message was a little different than most - a job offer. I photographed it because of the unnecessary apostrophe, but I couldn't help wondering about the message itself:  Did they just send one to all subscribers? If each of us who aren't going to attend were to email Mary, her server would probably blow up.

Was this some sort of targeted campaign? Did they analyze our viewing habits (which are 99.9% Mrs. Rimpington's choices - the remote is still an exotic object to me because I so seldom get to handle it) and conclude that someone at our house is unemployed and seeking work? I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that the TV is on all night, and sometimes it gets left on a channel after it starts showing hours of infomercials. It helps Mrs. R sleep (and me not so much). I suppose an unemployed person might stay up all night staring morosely at program-length ads for the P90X exercise program or the Little Giant ladder system.

I'm half-tempted to email Mary and ask her about this, but I think I'll let it remain a mystery.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Things Could Be Worse

If you haven't seen "Things Could Be Worse", you owe it to yourself to check it out. It's funny, weird, well-drawn and usually well-written. However, I've got to drop the grammar hammer on this one - that apostrophe belongs at the beginning of "'round", not at the end.


At first I was reluctant to pick on this sign. After all, there is a good chance that English is not the first language of the proprietors of this store. But then I saw the other side of the sign:

It's spelled correctly here. So who or what is to blame - shaky command of the language, or a careless sign maker? My money is on the latter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


There are a lot of mistakes in this paragraph, but I was most interested in "porches" for "purchase".

Call First for Directions

The top part of this sign (unfortunately cut off) follows a typical format: "unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at owner's expense." It's somewhat heartening that there is an apostrophe in "owner's", but I've always thought it should be "owners' expense" since we're referring to multiple vehicles (except in the unlikely event that all the offending vehicles belong to the same person).

But that's not what I came here to talk about (and yet I just did). I'm more interested in the fact that I've been parking near this sign for over a year and only recently noticed that the towed vehicles can be claimed at a phone number or by telephoning the California Vehicle Code 22511.8 (I don't know what the "AD" means).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lester Chili S for Moda

The subject of this post is bit dated (for which I apologize), as evidenced by the fact that Google has apparently dropped its voice recognition search. With results like the following...

click to embiggen

 ...when I clearly said "lacertilia squamata", it's little wonder this type of search didn't seem to catch on.

You know what I wish someone would invent? A sort of reverse image search. If you had a picture of someone or something and you didn't know what who or what it was (this has happened to me more than once), you could scan it, input it into the search engine, and it could search the web for a similar image. Wouldn't that be cool? Are you listening, Google?


As long as the children aren't trying to learn how to use an apostrophe, I guess this site would be okay.

There Is An Error Occured

At least I am still smarter than my computer. Or at least a better speller and user of English than whoever wrote this program. There is an error occurred, indeed.


I would subcsribe, if I knew what that was.


According to the Free Dictionary:

tem·po·ral 1
1. Of, relating to, or limited by time: a temporal dimension; temporal and spatial boundaries.
2. Of or relating to the material world; worldly: the temporal possessions of the Church.
3. Lasting only for a time; not eternal; passing: our temporal existence.
4. Secular or lay; civil: lords temporal and spiritual.
5. Grammar Expressing time: a temporal adverb.
Definition #3 is almost identical to their definiton of "temporary":

Lasting, used, serving, or enjoyed for a limited time.
So, given that, I guess you could make the argument that this sign isn't wrong. It just sounds and looks funny as hell. It brings to my mind some scenario in which time does not pass within the walls of this liquor store. When they eventually open the doors to the public, all products with dates on them (a package of chips, for example) will appear to us to have passed their expiration dates, but the products themselves will still be as fresh as the day the owners shut the portals of their amazing time-traveling establishment. Maybe they plan to stay inside until sometime in our distant future. When they reopen they'll be able to sell antique bottles of booze at a substantial markup.

A more likely explanation is that this is yet another example of an all-too-common phenomenon: professional sign makers who don't know how to spell.

This is not the only problem with this joint:

No apostrophe for Spike and his Bottle Shop. Or do they sell spikes and bottles? Yet they got it right on another sign:

Why the inconsistency? Perhaps when Spike emerges from his TARDIS-store, the anti-apostrophe people will have finally achieved their goals and some member of the Apostrophe Patrol will have whited out that pesky punctuation mark for him.


You've probably seen a sign like this. The meaning is pretty clear: they don't want you to try to cross a street in the direction in which you are facing the sign. Instead you should use the crosswalk indicated by the arrow. Don't get me started about how many intersections are set up so that a pedestrian has to cross streets three times just to get to the corner he or she wanted. This may be great for traffic flow, but it is a pedestrian-hostile system. What if you're old, or in a wheelchair, or otherwise mobility-challenged? I guess you're just out of luck, huh? I guess you should buy a car, loser! Ahem. Sorry. I told you not to get me started.

Back to the subject at hand: the meaning of the sign above is fairly clear (if something of a pain in the ass). Well, what is one to make of the following sign, spotted at a round-about intersection in?

It's like the sign is trying to confuse people. "Hey, stupid! Can't you read? There's no crosswalk here! Use the crosswalk! Bwah ha ha ha ha ha!"


I pass by this sign a lot, and it bugged me because I could never figure out what the hell it was supposed to be. I would tilt my head or squint my eyes, but nothing seemed to help it come to me. The closest I could come up with was that it was some kind of letter R, but that didn't seem very satisfying. To me it looked more like a silhouette of Squidward Tentacles from the Spongebob Squarepants show.

I eventually found the answer on line, as you will see. I could have and should have started there, but being of a pre-internet generation, I still tend to try to solve mysteries the old-fashioned way: by piling into a cool van full of hip late-1960s characters and a talking dog...wait, that's not right. Anyway, I decided to start with the horse's mouth method and paid a visit to the establish. I asked the Indian (as in ""from India") man behind the counter what the symbol was. He said he had worked there for four years and still didn't know, even though people occasionally asked. Since I had never heard of another Reliance Gas, I asked him if they were a chain or an independent. He said they were independent.

Then I turned to the internet and quickly found the Reliance organization and their corporate logo, hence:

As you can see, there are some similarities, especially if you allow for the fact that the blue version at the top of the page is basically backwards. A major difference is that the flame shape inside the R in the real logo is...well, just all wrong in the blue version. It looks like someone tried to recreate the logo freehand from a dim memory or a hastily drawn sketch by another person. Maybe they at least had it right-side around, but the sign got installed backwards?

I wonder if the employee who said they were an independent was telling the truth or just didn't understand the question. Reliance used to have over a thousand stations in the U.S. They closed about 900 stations in 2009, then reopened about 800 of them a year later. Perhaps this station was part of the corporate family and kept the name when they were cut loose but had to change the logo. Maybe this station never was a part of Reliance Industries and is just blatantly ripping off the name and (sort of) the logo. The fact that the employee said he had worked there for four years, which would have put him there during the Reliance restructuring period, but apparently had no knowledge of the real Reliance logo seems to give credence to my second theory. We may never know.

I know this isn't related to grammar, spelling or punctuation, but logos, like all symbols, are a type of visual communication. When I see a symbol that just makes no sense, I feel compelled to point it out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm Ba-aack!

I'm ba-aack! I deleted the old The Punctuator! blog because I just wasn't keeping it up the way I wanted, but I just can't seem to stay away. Maybe it was the change of venues. Now College Town is my Home Town, but I shall continue to call it College Town, cuz that's what it is. What's more, now the URL matches the name of the new version. So, without further ado, first post:

Grandrimpyette One's new school has a cool playground. In addition to the usual hopscotch and whatnot, it has some pretty esoteric looking games you can move about on, plus interesting things like a cut-away diagram of a human heart and a giant skeleton. The creator of this extravaganza worked in a little advertisement for herself, and wouldn't you know it? She spelled the name of her business incorrectly. What about the children?