print, again with the dying

Apropos of a conversation I had with some coworkers yesterday, about misspellings and mispronunciations:

I used to get very upset about people misspelling my name. I even refused to set up email forwarding to catch various misspellings. Now when someone does it, I don’t get upset. I just immediately and without exception think less of that person.

That may be an aggressively snotty statement, but I simply do not have time for people who don’t have the energy or attention span or whatever is required to get 7 letters in the right order all at once. Despite holding my clearly-printed calling cards, people manage to misspell my email address. Does anyone really expect a message sent to johnsmioth@somedomain.com to get to John Smith?

Typos are a part of typing, of course. Everyone makes mistakes. I personally make many, many more mistakes than I publish. That’s because I proofread before I send things out into the world. I believe this is important; I believe that people assess who I am from what I present to them in writing, even if they don’t realize they’re doing it.

Now you get to tell me that print is dead and I should get over it and post photographs instead. Good idea!

11 thoughts on “print, again with the dying

  1. “I used to get very upset about people misspelling my name. … Now when someone does it, I don’t get upset. I just immediately and without exception think less of that person.”

    I am not sure how much less I think of people who can’t spell my name properly, except that I know I stop trusting them with detail. It’s particularly annoying at work, when I use my full name as part of my signature, and responses come back to Selma Brown. *Hearing* my name is another matter — if I don’t spell it out on the phone, I expect to get things addressed to Selma/Alma/Thelma/Wilma, and the occasional Vanessa; but if it’s written and you can refer to it, you should be able to get it right.

  2. You’re not the only one that is funny about that sort of thing. Especially in business communication, my name damned well better be spelled correctly. Otherwise I will find someone else to do business with that is concerned enough about our relationship to at least spell my name correctly.

    Another thing I’m picky about in business is how I am addressed verbally. In personal communication I don’t care, but in a verbal business situation I consider it almost the ultimate in rudeness for someone to address me by my first name if I have not indicated it is okay to do so. If you and I have business dealings, I will address you as Mr. or Ms. and sir or ma’am until you tell me its proper to do otherwise, and that goes for everyone from the President of my bank to the checkout person at McDonalds. And I expect the same consideration in return. There are few things that tick me off to the level of when I write a check at a store, the cashier sees my name on the check, and then directly addresses me by first name.

  3. I totally agree. There’s my name, right there on the signature line of my message–yet someone addresses me as “Marci.” I get a little twinge inside, and yes, I do think less of the person. I really think less of people who get their apostrophes wrong, such as “It’s” for “its” or “your” for “you’re.” Read Eats Shoots and Leaves–a great book for us finicky editors.

  4. I’m not as sensitive as the rest of you about these things, but maybe that’s because most people don’t misspell David. Now that I think of it, though, I do get a little exercised when somebody gets my pseudonym wrong and identifies my in comments repeatedly as David Bale even after I correct them as politely as possible that it’s:
    David +B +Dale = davidbdale.

  5. I don’t find many who misspell my name. I do find more than a few who mispronounce my name (my full name being an extended version of Gina) and that is a huge annoyance to me. It used to be humiliating for me, even, when in school.

    I think less of people when they are simply bad at spelling and grammar. *shrug*

  6. Mine gets misspelled a lot as well. I guess I’m used to it, so I don’t get annoyed unless they continue to do it after I correct them.

    Plus I get amused when I see a new one. It’s been a while, though.

  7. Misspelt, mispronounced names. I’ve had ’em all. I bless voice mail. It’s how I’ve learned to pronounce people’s names. Joe Smythe: Is that smith, sm-long i-th, smithy? Um. Check the voice message first and find out how he pronounces it.

    And spelling? I belong to a family of rotten spellers. A well-regarded educator once told me bad spelling was partly genetic.

    His nibs, the father of the bunch, has the flaw. He’s worked around it by spending years working on the problem. The younger guys are still getting to there.

    They hated to have me check their homework when they were in school. I wouldn’t correct their spelling. I’d circle words that were misspelt and tell them to look them up in a dictionary. The older younger one had spelling so bad that spellcheck didn’t work. I’d read an assignment. “Why did you choose that word?” “That’s what spellcheck told me it should be.” “You know what that word means. You KNOW it isn’t the word you wanted. Find the right word.”

    Misspelt words, misspelt names tend to tarnish people’s halos in my book. I taught the younger guys that arbitrary as spelling may seem to them, I’m not the only one who has correct spelling as a pet peeve.

  8. First of all, thank you all for your responses to my post about misspelling names. I am compelled to add that I absolutely do not fault people for mispronouncing my name and/or assuming I am male before meeting me, or for misspelling my name before receiving written communication from me. My main problem is with people who:

    spell my name “Halstead” (yes, the last syllable sounds like “instead” but it’s a different word)
    call me “Bernard” (which one professor at my last job did, to my face and without irony, for 5 years)
    keep saying over and over again that I have a boy’s name (I suppose this is better than saying I have a boy’s chest, but only marginally)
    hyphenate my middle name and last name (the equivalent of Elizabeth Sue-Smith)

    It is a tall order, I realize, to ask someone in this age of glorious techie goodness to give a half a crap about spelling, punctuation, or tact, but I make this order anyway. I make it because we need to hold ourselves to higher standards every day; this is how we excel instead of merely show up.

    Sal mentioned voicemail, which reminded me that I should record my outgoing message to help people with the mispronunciation and gender error. Spelling my name out would be a little condescending, though.

    Marcy graciously recommended that I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It says something about me that I found it a bit precious. I don’t think these things are cute or silly, but that must be glaringly obvious by now. Please don’t stop recommending books to me, though!

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