I'm going to start by giving the benefit of the doubt to the people who created the ad we'll look at in a bit.
They may have never heard of the rule that two related words, when modifying the same word (and where the first does not end in -ly) should probably be hyphenated. (Wow, that seems convoluted, doesn't it?) Here are some examples:
- Cart Stopping Deals vs. Cart-stopping Deals (I've been seeing this at Target, though I don't have a photo for you). The first one would, if read literally, imply that a Cart is Stopping the Deals. The second would say that the Deals are "Cart-stopping."
- Over Hyped Holiday Shopping vs. Over-Hyped Holiday Shopping. The first, if read with a tone of annoyance, could mean that you are Over all of the Hyped Holiday Shopping. The second implies that the Holiday Shopping has been Overly Hyped. (I feel this way every year as we come up to Valentine's Day.)
The second benefit of the doubt that we have to consider is that English is a weird language, and there are variations between British English and American English that make things even more confusing.
True story: my mom is Canadian, and spent her "grammar school" years in Canada. This means that she spells some words differently than my dad does. And, somewhere along the way, I picked up some of those British-Canadian spelling habits. A couple of examples:
- Traveling (American) vs. Travelling (British)
- Busing (American) vs. Bussing (British)
- Jewelry (American) vs. Jewellery (British)
|I'd like to think that this Easter Bunny is hopeful.|
And now, a bit of personal context before we finally get to the point of this post:
In one of my past jobs, I worked with an incredible marketing team. They were some of the most creative people I've ever met, and we had a phenomenal graphic designer who would take vague ideas and produce the most incredible mailers. We had been working together on a piece that was only going to have one word (three times) on the front of it. That word was: "Surprise."
When the postcard came to me to be proofed - having already been seen by three other people - the copy on the front said: "Suprise, Suprise, Suprise!"
One word. Three times. And if it had gone out that way it would have made us look surprisingly ridiculous.
Technology sidenote: Not all layout programs actually even have Spellcheck. So we can't always - just usually - blame spellcheck for the things that we send out that are wrong.
So there I was, earlier this week, scrolling through my social media feeds and I came across the following ad:
Of course, my first instinct was "they need a hyphen" - because "show-stoping" is a compound adjective. (And, well, it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine.)
And then I looked again and thought "What the heck is 'stoping'?"**
I'm usually a live-and-let-live person when it comes to social media. I don't correct people when they typo their status updates. Life is too short. But... well... I may have sent a quick note to the nice folks at Living Social suggesting that they might want to check their image text in future.
After all, they may have figured they were in the clear since there were only 9 words on the ad, but 11% (or 22%, depending on how you count the hyphenation) were wrong, which - finally - makes my point that no job is ever too small that it can't benefit from a proofreader.
**In case you're wondering, "stoping" is a real word - which puts you at even more of a disadvantage if you rely only on Spellcheck. It has both mining and geological meanings - the former having to do with a large, open space left behind during excavation of ores; the latter having to do with the same type of "space creation" caused while magma moves toward the surface.