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Man Travels Country to Fixe Typo's

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Man Travels Country to Fixe Typo's

Arts & Life

Man Travels Country to Fixe Typo's

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Misplaced apostrophes, inappropriate quotation marks, misspellings, severe and minor: beware. You can't hide anymore, no matter where you are across the country. The Typo Eradication Advancement League, that's TEAL, is on to you.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: TEAL is patrolling the country, hunting down typos and correcting them with the red pen of justice. Or in some cases White-Out. For the next three months, Team TEAL will move across the country correcting signs, confronting grammar bad guys and blogging about it the whole time.

Heading up the team is Jeff Deck. He began TEAL's mission in Boston on March 4th. And poor spellers in the Big Apple, beware, he's now in New York City and actually in our studios. Hi.

Mr. JEFF DECK (Founder, Typo Eradication Advancement League): Hi, there. Glad to be here.

STEWART: Did you notice our sign, our welcome sign for you?

Mr. DECK: I sure did.

STEWART: There's an issue, isn't there?

Mr. DECK: There is a small but crucial one.

STEWART: And it is? Tell people what it says.

Mr. DECK: It says, greeting's, TEAL members, but there is an apostrophe in greetings.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

An errant apostrophe.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, dastardly apostrophes.

STEWART: So Jeff, if you were just walking in here and you saw that, I know you have a bag of tricks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: What would you do with that sign? What needs to be done?

Mr. DECK: Well, first I would leap over the table here.

MARTIN: Leap, not walk.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, with White-Out in hand.

STEWART: Do you have it?

Mr. DECK: I do.

STEWART: What's in your bag? Let's see.

Mr. DECK: Well, it's not in any fancy valise or anything.

STEWART: It's not that bad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: We're not very fancy.

STEWART: In your typo correction kit you have...

Mr. DECK: Well, I've got some sticky letters...

STEWART: Okay.

Mr. DECK: ...that I believe are supposed to go on the hulls of boats, but can serve other purposes, I believe.

STEWART: That's for misspellings, obviously.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, yeah.

STEWART: Or incorrect articles, let's say.

Mr. DECK: Yeah. I can always tear up one of the letters if I need an apostrophe, I suppose.

STEWART: Okay.

Mr. DECK: I've got two varieties of chalk here for the ubiquitous restaurant chalkboard, you know, typo mistakes.

MARTIN: Oh, I hate those.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, yeah.

MARTIN: I want to join your team, actually. I'm so into this.

STEWART: When did this passion for correct punctuation begin with you?

Mr. DECK: Well, I think it sort of goes back to junior high when I won a couple of spellings bees and was sort of seized with this desire to, you know, see some, you know, more correct spelling just on a larger scale. And I suppose that's sort of what led me to go on to become an editor at my college paper and then one in an academic publishing house, as well. But I guess I was still thinking bigger all the while.

STEWART: And as part of this thinking bigger, you are going to go across the country with your team, you have three other members on your team.

Mr. DECK: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: You started in Massachusetts, quit your job at MIT, right?

Mr. DECK: Yeah, yeah.

STEWART: All right. What kind of offenses did you find in Massachusetts?

Mr. DECK: Well...

MARTIN: They're smart up there.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, you know, there's, you know, it's a very university-heavy state, and, you know, the Boston area is very urbane. And you'd think that it might be typo-free, but it's not the case, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DECK: You know, they're...

MARTIN: It's a universal affliction.

Mr. DECK: Yeah.

STEWART: Give me an example of ones you've already found. You're only five days into this.

Mr. DECK: Right, yeah. So I don't really have any, you know, too many interesting stories so far. But the few typos that I've found thus far in my travels I think probably indicate the pattern of what I'm going to find across the country...

STEWART: Which is?

Mr. DECK: It seems that a lot of errors revolve around the apostrophe, that eternally misunderstood punctuation mark.

STEWART: You found business cards...

Mr. DECK: Yeah, yeah, I actually went...

STEWART: ...of a company, which is sort of sad because they have printed them up.

Mr. DECK: Yeah. I went in for a doctor's appointment, and I happen to see this stack of business cards that they had with - that was actually not an apostrophe one - but they spelled referral r-e-f-e-r-a-l. And, you know, I asked the guy behind the counter, I go, there's really no way this is ever going to get fixed, is there?

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Nope. So what is the purpose? Are people - do you want people to correct these signs long-term, or are you happy as long as you just make the correction, you can move on to your other targets?

Mr. DECK: Well, I mean, there's the, you know, there's the sort of immediate goal of public awareness, you know. But it would be nice, you know, if the corrections could be permanent, you know, sort of in the long-term interest of, you know, general sort of verbal beauty in America.

MARTIN: What happens when the problem is permanent, as in a neon sign?

Mr. DECK: That is when I might be sort of stuck, short of finding the outlet that the neon sign is plugged into and, you know, doing a little sabotage.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Jeff, are you the kind of person, who, if a friend or family member writes you an e-mail and makes a lot of totally egregious mistakes, do you tell them?

Mr. DECK: No, no.

MARTIN: It doesn't bother you that much.

STEWART: It's just for perfect strangers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DECK: It's really a matter of, you know, personal versus public communication. And, you know, of course I'll notice typos if somebody sends me an e-mail littered with them, but, you know, I'm not going to be like, hey, you know, I couldn't even read this thing, you know.

Mr. DECK: We're speaking with Jeff Deck. He is part of the Typo Eradication Advancement League. You're going across the country eradicating typos. And I stopped you, I'm sorry. Continue on with what's in your toolkit that you need. We talked about - you pulled out already some adhesive letters to correct misspellings or possibly insert apostrophes where necessary, some chalk. What else do you have?

Mr. DECK: Well, I've got some White-Out here, and a marker and a couple of different colors of ink pens because you never know what the source material is going to be like.

STEWART: Now, I was reading your blog, and it seems to me there might be an issue with funding of you...because you're gonna go across the country.

Mr. DECK: Yeah.

STEWART: Especially because you described some of the things that you brought with you, that you packed, peanut butter sounds like a good idea, bread, things in cans, getting back to the basics just like our pioneer ancestors. How are you funding this? How are you getting across country?

Mr. DECK: Well, I was actually to save up a good bit of money in my last job. So, you know, I'm sort of blowing through that. I'm gonna have to, you know, live on the state after this.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DECK: And, you know, we're trying to make it as cheap as possible, staying at friend's houses and, you know, some hostels and camping, and, you know, there's some parking lots.

STEWART: Now, there's one thing in your toolkit I don't recognize, what is that large metallic object?

Mr. DECK: This is actually something my girlfriend, Jane, fashioned. This is a - she made it out of an old - I think it used to be like a wrist, you know, bicycle, you know, speedometer or something in its past life. But now it's a Portable Typo-tracker 3000.

STEWART: Portable Typo-tracker 3000.

MARTIN: We should say this is covered in aluminum foil.

STEWART: Look at that.

MARTIN: Oh.

STEWART: Doppler radar has nothing on you.

Mr. DECK: Yeah, yeah.

STEWART: Look at that.

MARTIN: That is very cool.

Mr. DECK: So, you know, it's a good sort of symbol of, you know, the ways that technology can help us fix typos in this day and age.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Well, Jeff Deck, we're gonna let you get to work because you do have some typo correction to take care of in here. We appreciate you coming in, correcting our typos. What's your Web site again, if we want track you across country?

Mr. DECK: Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, it can be reached at two different sites, whichever is easier to remember. You can either go to TypoEradicationAdvancementLeague.com, all one word, or jeffdeck.com/teal.

MARTIN: And you realize that if you blog about this, we're really going to be checking to make sure your punctuation is correct.

Mr. DECK: Oh, yeah, yeah. I check each entry.

STEWART: Thanks a lot, Jeff.

Mr. DECK: Thank you. Bye-bye.

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