It all started with a bus ride home. On the Q35, which travels from Brooklyn College/Flatbush Avenue to Queens, Beach 116th Street, this blogger saw something that would hurt any English major's eyes: A professionally done store sign with an error.
The bus passes by a place where I guess you can find out information on become a home health aide or a nurse. The sign was amusing and incorrect. Instead of saying "Nursing and Home Health Aide" as I guess it should have said, it said "Nursing.Home.Health.Aide", adding unnecessary dots in between the words that made it look rather silly. What's even more amusing is that I have not seen that sign for about two weeks or so. Maybe they relocated or maybe people noticed the sign and that affected their business.
Since then, I have been curious about other misspelled signs. Of course, as with anyone who is a whiz at the computer or at least navigating the Internet these days, I googled "Misspelled signs of New York."
To my surprise, there was a website that was filled with pictures of all these misspelled signs. Apparently, an anonymous man made a website full of random things he was interested in. If you look around the site, there is not a single page that leads you to contact information. It was built on the server prodigy.net and his username is Pizza Bagel, so I guess that's what we shall call him here in the Write Queen's world.Pizza Bagel's website
is filled with other 300 photos of misspelled signs. They are taken in parts of Queens and Brooklyn. It was rather amusing and one could spend a couple of hours there for a good laugh.
There was also an article by the New York Times
discussing this from 2005. This article talks about how and why this affects us culturally and how certain popular neighborhood stores are identified by their incorrect signs.
Inspired by these things, I walked around in my neighborhood for some photos and air. I wanted to see if the neighborhood had anything incorrect in their signs. At first, I thought that I had the worst luck to live in such a literate neighborhood until I started to walk around and really look at each sign I encounter. Here are ten things I discovered while looking for signs (other than that people will look at you like you are crazy when you are staring at a sign really hard).
- Unless you are looking real closely, most of the time, you won't notice the mistake.
- Missing letters are most common mistake made in these signs.
- A lot of these signs are done by professional sign makers and printing shops.
- If you start noticing the obvious mistakes, you will also start noticing mistakes in grammar and tense.
- When looking for these signs, you will start to question if you know how to spell.
- When hunting for these signs, do it with a friend. Sometimes they notice things you don't.
- Handmade signs are funny too. Especially when the owners can easily make another and don't.
- Store owners are sensitive about the mistakes. They don't take too kindly to questions about why they have allowed such a mistake to be on their sign and do not anything about it.
- Sign makers will claim most of the time that they did not make a mistake. They will say that it was written that way on the order form. I just have to say that if they are well versed in English, they should correct mistakes or at least question their customers on what they want.
- Searching for incorrect signs will make you think that there are mistakes in every sign, if you do this for more than a hour. Take a break or know when to stop before you start getting to debates with people about how to spell simple words like "alteration" and "pheasant".
Below is a little slide show of my discoveries. See if you can catch the mistakes right away. There is also an interview at the end with a fellow resident from my neighborhood in South Ozone Park, Queens. Please pardon the amateur editing. This is not a blog on the New York Times.