When we began our journey, the typos themselves seemed to be our main foe, flies in otherwise unblemished ointment. Over time (and after over 400 finds and over 200 corrections), we began seeing typos as a symptom of two larger problems. The TEAL mission has developed a two-pronged emphasis and attack.
First: an editorial malaise seems to have the nation in its lackadaisical grasp. Many writers, of signs and other textual material, have displayed a definite inattention to detail and lack of concern for effectively communicating their message. Certainly some typos have minimal to no impact on a given message, but others do cause trouble, occasionally big trouble. The best defense is a good offense, as Dan Quayle once noted, and so we want not only to eradicate the typos we find, but to push for a wave of editorial awareness. Thus, TEAL will still be out there correcting typos, but the bigger goal is to get everyone editing.
Even a cursory glance at what you’ve printed may help you catch an embarrassing slip-up before you put something up for all to read. We, of course, recommend a careful look over anything you’ve written for public consumption. Besides overt mistakes, you may find phrasing that you could word better, or come up with other ways to enhance the clarity of your meaning.
For those who know they’re not great spellers or are uncertain about punctuation or use of an apostrophe, we encourage you to ask. It’s always better to ask a friend for a read-through than to have a stranger (not all of whom are as polite as TEAL members) point a typo out later. It’s always better to catch a mistake while it’s still in your hands.
If there’s a typo somewhere on this website, tell us and we’ll happily fix it. We’re in this with you.
The second prong of the TEAL mission is centered on education. How can someone avoid a spelling mistake if she doesn’t know how to spell? Or a punctuation mistake if he hasn’t been properly introduced to commas and the rest of those curious little marks? TEAL believes that an engaging and effective education in English, particularly a phonics-based program, is essential for much more than merely helping eradicate typos. The next generation’s comfort with the written word is crucial to surviving and even prospering in the 21st century. Only an informed, educated electorate will see us through the difficult times ahead, in which many tough choices will need to be made, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fixing the educational system is essential.
As TEAL renews its mission after its year of enforced silence, we will examine how to take action in changing America’s educational situation so as to systematically obliterate illiteracy. This can and must be done.
TEAL remains convinced that speech, personal communications, or anything written by non-native speakers should be off-limits. Policing the first two would be dangerously invasive, and harping on the third is just not sporting. Until native speakers stop making typos, how can we expect non-native speakers to get a complete handle on the undeniably complex and nuanced English language?
Having been where we’ve been, seen what we’ve seen, and pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor for moving an apostrophe and adding a comma, we’ve added one central, mandatory rule to our charters. TEAL neither participates in nor condones the stealth typo correction. Always ask for permission to correct a typo.
When asking to fix a typo, always be as polite as possible, even when the person you’re asking is rude to you. We are not trying to blame anyone for the typos, but we do want to get the mistake fixed, and on a grander scale, to expand awareness of editing as a crucial phase of the writing process. We have a lot of perception changing to do thanks to those who get caustic about grammar and have made people defensive of their mistakes. League members aim to be the nice guys of grammar, out there enhancing clarity and spreading the gospel of editing’s bright power, and we believe that everyone is capable of civility in this pursuit.