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What is the Typo Eradication Advancement League?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Most people have noticed at least one glaring typographical or spelling error on a public sign or commercial advertisement, but few actually take the extra steps necessary to correct it. However, two activist grammarians named Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson did take a stand against wholesale misspellings and grammatical errors by forming the Typo Eradication Advancement League, or TEAL. The Typo Eradication Advancement League's primary cause is the immediate, if not necessarily sanctioned, repair of publicly viewable typos on signs all across the United States.

The weapons of choice for members of the Typo Eradication Advancement League include white-out correction fluid, black electrical tape, spray paint and cameras to record their accomplishments. Once a TEAL team has successfully fixed a spelling-challenged sign, photos of the event would be posted to a website owned and operated by Deck or Herson.

During the early days of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, most missions involved privately-owned signs which promoted "restaurants" or sold "magizines". If a sign could be corrected by the addition or subtraction of a few letters, a TEAL member would make the appropriate adjustments, record the event for posterity and then move on to the next glaring error.

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Once the plans to eradicate all public typos and misspellings became more ambitious, however, TEAL began to face some serious legal issues. Defacing public signs, even in the interest of improved grammar, is still considered a crime, and this is where the original incarnation of the Typo Eradication Advancement League may have met its grammatical Waterloo.

A handpainted sign from the 1930s located at the Grand Canyon contained an extra apostrophe in its text, so it became a viable target for TEAL's campaign. The TEAL team attempted to correct this grammatical error by painting over the errant apostrophe. This action prompted the federal government to arrest the TEAL members and charge them with defacing federal property, a potentially serious offense with stiff monetary fines and the possibility of federal prison time.

Following a hearing, the TEAL members were fined several thousand dollars and banned from entering any national park for a year. The sign at the Grand Canyon was repaired, including the extraneous apostrophe which had originally vexed the TEAL organizers. A substantial apology for vandalizing federal property appeared on the TEAL website in 2008. A proposed project called the Typo Hunt Across America may or may not have been affected by the Grand Canyon incident, but the threat of future legal action by irate sign owners could prove to be a factor in future Typo Eradication Advancement League missions.

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anon28373
Post 3

If the offending piece comes from a respected source a letter to a serious newspaper or journal might get a result. The elected or appointed man or woman should be named.

Might get a result - 'though I wouldn't bet on it.

anon28304
Post 2

A very common error is using than after different. It should be "different from" and not "different than" as so many speakers and writers put it. But spelling and grammar are often rather atrocious on comments to columnists.

Also the amount of verbal vitriol is distressing.

But then some in high places use personal attacks when they have no answer to the idea.

Donald W. Bales

Thanks for printing the code letters legibly.

anon28296
Post 1

How do you define defacing? I remember that many years ago a Japanese company was brought to court by a German company, both companies being in the business of building photo cameras. The Germans accused the Japanese of counterfeiting one of their models. The Japanese were indeed building a camera which looked and worked similarly with one of the models of the Germans and even labeled it the same way the Germans did. However, they pleaded that their camera was better, and counterfeiting was an act of creating similarly looking and similarly labeled products which were _less_ good, thus damaging the name and market perception for the company building the "real" product. The Japanese won. Provided TEAL pleads that they were not defacing, but in fact enhancing the sign, and citing this case as a precedent, they should be able to overturn the initial sentence, shouldn't they?

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