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Signs of the Times

I was walking to the Silver Spring Metro station the other morning when I drew up short at this sign:

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"Vet Station"? Were they spaying and neutering pets? Were they handing out veterans' benefits? Then I realized that I was being directed to the "Metro Station." The sign hadn't been up long--it must be there to help people bewildered by all the construction--but it had already lost a few letters. It reminded me of a sign I used to see when I lived in Langley Park: "FAMO DELICATE." They had great subs there, famously good.

Here's another sign:

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The letters missing here, at least according to My Lovely Wife, are "-ly." Ruth is one of those sticklers, the latest in a long line of sticklers. I used to dread my stories appearing in print, since I would expect a phone call from her mother: "You misused 'whom'....You used 'lay' when you should have used 'lie.'" That sort of thing.

These signs, which have cropped up in Silver Spring, should really say "Drive Safely, Walk Safely." But who has time for that when you're dodging cars?

If you see any funny, misleading, grammatically egregious signs in your wanderings, take a photo and send it to me: kellyj@washpost.com.

The Curious Curator
One of my fondest memories of the National Museum of American History was standing deep in its bowels in a part of the building off-limits to tourists. Shelves rose high above me on either side and the place had a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" vibe about it: Who knew what treasures were packed away? David Shayt knew. He was my guide that day, a Smithsonian curator who had collected seemingly mundane things that were nevertheless captivating: old lunchboxes, crayons, TV show memorabilia, the ephemera with which we create our culture.

David died Nov. 4 of multiple myeloma at age 56. Patricia Sullivan has a wonderful obituary of him in today's Post. I was at the museum a month ago, taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the renovation work. I kept thinking that I really had to have David show me around again, climb up some shelves, open some boxes. I won't get that chance now, and when the museum reopens later this month it will be without David. But his influence, and his clever, inquisitive, acquisitive eye, will be in many of the artifacts on display.

By John Kelly  |  November 12, 2008; 9:30 AM ET
 | Tags: David Shayt, Smithsonian, signs  
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Comments

Outside a Korean church in Northern Virginia I saw a sign on which the letters were arranged thus:

FIGHT TRUTH
DECAY STUDY
BIBLE

It was an invitation to Bible study.

Posted by: cktirumalai | November 12, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I say three cheers for Ruth and her mother. I get it wrong as often as I get it right (grammatically speaking), but I am saddened by the lack of appreciation of the basics. Do they still teach grammar or has that all gone by the wayside? I remember being taught things like "rest, recline, remain...lie, lay, lain."

Posted by: mfromalexva | November 12, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the Post have copy editors in place to catch adjectives posing as adverbs, improper tenses, dangling modifiers, and other grammatical lapses?

Posted by: f-street | November 12, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I've always been annoyed by Chicken Out's grammatically incorrect "Eat Good" slogan.

Posted by: dr_klahn | November 12, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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