Wednesday, October 26, 2005

bad spelling is infuriating

Especially in a published work that costs a consumer hard-earned cash. In this case, the consumer was me, and I'm not happy.

I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and picked out a history book on the Secret Service, since I'm a history nerd. Titled The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, I figured this book was worth the bargain bin price of $7.98. I was sorely mistaken. After getting home, I figured I would read the first 10 pages to get a feel for it. Like a bat out of hell, on page 5, the following exercise in editing futility takes place:

"Scottish immigrant Allan Pinkerton, a tough, savvy investigator who had founded the first financially successful private detective agency in the United Stated [sic] . . . was working on a criminal case in Baltimore in 1861 when he claimed to have 'inadvertently' discovered a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln." (pp. 4-5)

Are you fucking kidding me? Both the author and the editor didn't see that glaring typo? It's clear that these scholarly intellectuals decided a brisk run through SpellCheck would dominate any and all errors in the book, even words that are technically spelled correctly but clandestinely survive in the form of a blatant typo. What in the devil is the United Stated? I've never heard of this apparently new nation-verb.

What makes this worse is that it ruins an otherwise interesting geek-fact I would have enjoyed (the discovery of the assassination plot happened in Baltimore, and the Pinkerton fellow mentioned is associated with the well-known security company that Weezer references by way of the title to their second album: Pinkerton).

I did some further research on the book, and as it turns out, the rest of it is so chock full of mistakes and typos that some readers, instead of throwing it away, continued reading just to see how many errors they could ultimately find. Wonderful.

Luckily I kept the receipt to this sucker and I'll be making an exchange in the near future.

No comments: