Mack Williams column: Mix-ups and misspellings

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

Many people have spelling problems nowadays. I have them too. As the years go by, the words with double consonants sometimes trip me up, leaving me to ask: two “c’s” or not two “c’s,” two “l’s” or not two “l’s,” two “m’s” or not two “m’s,” two “p’s” or not two “p’s,” two “r’s” or not two “r’s,” two “s’s” or not two “s’s,” two “t’s” or not two “t’s,” that (these) is (are) the question (s)!

The confusion between “there,” “their” and “they’re” is so commonplace as to seem standard, as well as the mix-up of “here” with “hear,” and that especially heinous one: “your” with “you’re.” Those who use “your” when they should have used “you’re” seem to be accusing everyone to whom they speak of possessiveness.

Then there is the commonly used abbreviation “ur.” I know this is supposed to be “you are,” but whenever I see “ur,” I think of the ancient Chaldeans. (Wayne Trexler was a wonderful Bible teacher at East Rowan.)

I’ve sometimes seen “ur” also used for “your,” but “ur” lacks the “y” sound necessary for that. Just the other day, I saw the correctly used “yr” as an abbreviation for “your,” and the source you’ll never guess (haven’t seen “you’ll” turned into “yul” yet, but if so, it could be confused with a late, great actor).

That day, I was looking at some online examples of George Washington’s penmanship and came across where he ended a letter with “Yr Most Obedient Humble Servant, G. Washington.” Although texting was yet to be, The Father of Our Country was ahead of his day with what looks like a texting abbreviation of the word “your.”

At a grocery store here in Danville (which I’ll abbreviate as “FL”), I  was chanced to meet up one day with a sign on its locked doors reading: “closed temporary.” Being incensed by the omission of the “il” (actually, being “ill” about it), I went to a nearby Super Dollar Store and purchased a magic marker for the express purpose of changing “temporary” to “temporarily.”

When I returned about 10 minutes later to “right (write) a wrong,” I was greatly disappointed to find that the store was open again, and the sign was gone, with no hope of my correction. (The pains I took, and my great consternation over not being able to make that correction may be the sign of a problem worse than that of the sign-maker’s knowledge of English.)

In that same grocery store, I also saw an aisle sign saying “canned vegetables,” but another one saying “can meat,” leaving me to conclude that the meat in those cans has a “can do,” positive attitude. Since I always try to have an upbeat, cheery outlook, and since I am “fauna,” not “flora,” I guess I’m “can meat” too!

One day, I saw a small bin behind the cashier’s counter, with a sign reading “reduce cigarettes.” Since it was on a big piece of poster paper, not on a little “sticky note,” I concluded that it was not a reminder for the cashier to do just that, but instead, it was a sign meant to advertise: “reduced cigarettes.” The person in line behind me might have wondered a bit as I orally corrected (and completed) the sign with a low “duh” sound. (This might represent another manifestation of that suspected “problem” mentioned at the end of the seventh paragraph of this piece.)

From here on, you will see that I have saved the best (worst) for last.

There is a lady here in Danville who prides herself on her “countryness,” so much so that she has paid extra money to the Division of Motor Vehicles for a license tag which reads “KUNTRY”(made doubly worse by Virginia’s requirement for a tag on both ends of a car).

You see, truth is stranger than fiction, for if I had made this up, you would think me a dirty old man; but I only report what I saw.

I know the “o” in “country” is silent, but just the same, I regret her omission of it. (I guess there’s only just so much room on a license plate.)

And I do not chide the lady for “Germanically” replacing “c” with “k,” but instead, laud her for it!

To express her “countryness,” she would have been better off using “GRITS” or “FATBACK” (“FATBAK,” or even “FTBK”).

And finally, in Yanceyville, the advertisement for a service station’s grill, proudly announcing: “On Wednesday at 9 a.m. the biscuitits will be ready!” In thinking about some witty remark on this, I must remain silent; as no amount of studied cleverness could ever hope to equal the “accident” in that sign.

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