Monday, February 8, 2010

Spelling Test

I understand that standardized spelling is a relatively recent invention, and everyone has certain words and rules that are just beyond their grasp. (The "ie" rules are mine.) You might be an uncoordinated typist, or come to English as a non-native speaker, or suffer from a form of dyslexia. I get that.

What peeves me off is when folks consistently misspell proper names. The one that’s really been grating my cheese lately is The Nokota Horse. It’s NOKOTA, not NAKOTA.

It’d be one thing if it had been misspelled on the box, or in the catalog, or online through the official sources. But for the most part, it’s not. It’s hobbyists, being inattentive, indifferent, or just too darn lazy to look it up - all the things they accuse Breyer of being.

Breyer has committed many a serious - and sometimes amusing - spelling faux pas in the recent and not-so-recent past. For many years, they had trouble with the word Lipizzan:

They corrected it the catalog the following year, to the equally wrong "Lippizan." Not surprisingly, when they released the Classic Lipizzan in 1975, they managed to finally get it right on the box - but still spelled it wrong everywhere else!

You might have noticed that this is a twofer: notice "Palamino?" Palomino is consistently misspelled throughout this 1968 catalog, which is a bit of a mystery since Breyer didn’t have much problem spelling it before - or after. (Was there no time for proofreading, or was a rookie typesetter to blame?)

And then there’s my personal favorite, the Charcoal G2 Morgan BreyerFest "Kay Chain."

That one - and most of the more recent spelling errors - are probably translation or transcription errors. Amusing, but not offensive, except to remind us of the uncomfortable fact of overseas production.

And then there’s the term "Wedgewood Blue:"

Any pottery or antique collector worth their weight in Jasperware knows the correct spelling is "Wedgwood." (Type up both spelling variations in MS Word and see for yourself!)

The Wedgewood error is a very common and persistent one, especially among people with only a passing familiarity with collectible pottery. Some companies add the "e" intentionally when they use that word as an adjective or in a description to indicate they’re not officially affiliated with the actual pottery.

I’m not sure the higher-ups at Breyer were thinking that far in advance; I think it was just a simple spelling error. However, they did just have a run-in with Hagen-Renaker a couple of years earlier, so it’s possible that one of their lawyers may have advised them to add the extra "e" to cover their hindquarters, just in case another "nasty lawyer letter" arrived on their doorstep.

No comments: