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'Grammar Vigilante' Secretly Corrects Bristol Street Signs (irishtimes.com) 158

An anonymous reader shares a report: A self-confessed "grammar vigilante" has been secretly correcting bad punctuation on street signs and shop fronts in Bristol for more than a decade. The anonymous crusader carries out his work in the dead of night using the "Apostrophiser" -- a long-handled tool he created to reach the highest signs. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC that correcting rogue apostrophes is his speciality.
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'Grammar Vigilante' Secretly Corrects Bristol Street Signs

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  • by byolinux ( 535260 ) * on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:44AM (#54164817) Journal

    He's supposed to be from Bristol, after all.

    • Re:Bansky? (Score:5, Funny)

      by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:48AM (#54164839) Homepage Journal

      We need a grammar vigilante to come here and correct the misspelling in your subject.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Technically you would want a spelling vigilante for that, rather than a grammar vigilante.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Will we need a pedantry vigilante soon?

          • so, there will be a queue? first pedantry, then grammar, then spelling, then punctuation...

            • so, there will be a queue? first pedantry, then grammar, then spelling, then punctuation...

              That's just being persnickety.

          • Will we need a pedantry vigilante soon?

            This is just a start. Wait until the rise of the P.L.A.!
            Yes, the Punctuation Liberation Army will change everything!!!
            "Nothing eclipses Ellipses..."

            Oh, forgot, (ahem) Bawahaha!!!

            • Not the Liberation Army of Punctuation?

              Splitters!

              • Not the Liberation Army of Punctuation?

                Splitters!

                Didn't that change to the Peoples Punctuation Army?
                Oh, no, never mind. He's sitting right over there...
                Splitter!!!

        • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

          They do exist [theguardian.com].

      • How would a slashdot dupe-story vigilante work? DOS the dupe? Hack into slashdot and delete the dupe? Turn it into a cow story via word substitution? Flood the dupe story with ***WARNING: DUPE STORY***" flags? Pop the tires of the editor's car as punishment? Volunteer to read-check for free?

      • We need a grammar vigilante to come here and correct the misspelling in your subject.

        Sounds more like a job for - Grammar Chameleon!

        He comes. And he goes. He strings along. Strings along.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You mean Bank'sy, surely.

  • he should visit /. with his tool.

    • Why'd he want stickers all over his monitor?

      • Well, look at it this way: sure he'd have stickers all over his screen, but even if he scrolled or reloaded the main page, he'd still end up with better edited posts than without the stickers.

      • You can have my rainbow-powered-unicorn-rocket when you pry it from my cold dead... monitor!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Unicoder! We totally need a unicoder!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Unicoder! We totally need a unicoder!

        I suppose that's preferable to the Ebcdicker.

    • No thanks (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

      Slashdot is already plenty full of tools.

  • Back in my day, we called them grammar Nazis. It might not be allowed these days though.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:52AM (#54164865)
    Golly, here on the internet, they're called "Grammar Nazis". Maybe people who correct bad grammar aren't so bad after all...
    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      People really need to check their twitch response when it comes to these signs. Consider the following:

      Your "Lowest Cost" Groceries

      Are those quotes inappropriate? Ask the grocer and he might say "no, I said that, it's a quote from me."

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        They read as sarcasm quotes to me. If it says "Lowest Cost" I'd assume it was not really very cheap at all.

    • by Hardhead_7 ( 987030 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:23PM (#54165113)

      Golly, here on the internet, they're called "Grammar Nazis". Maybe people who correct bad grammar aren't so bad after all...

      Fun fact: in Germany, they don't call them Grammar Nazis (obviously). Their word basically translates as "comma fuckers," which is way cooler.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Golly, here on the internet, they're called "Grammar Nazis". Maybe people who correct bad grammar aren't so bad after all...

        Fun fact: in Germany, they don't call them Grammar Nazis (obviously). Their word basically translates as "comma fuckers," which is way cooler.

        That's exactly how "Pilkunnussija" in finnish translates too. And even though vulgar expression it's recognized by national language office dictionary [kielitoimi...nakirja.fi]. On that page it shows how word is bent and alias "Pilkunviilaaja" which translates "a comma fiddler" in english.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fun fact: in Germany, they don't call them Grammar Nazis (obviously). Their word basically translates as "comma fuckers," which is way cooler.

        Uh, sorry, but that's just plain wrong.

        Dutch has Mierenneuker, which I believe translates to someone fornicating with insects of the family Formicidae, however, in less polite terms, and means nitpicker.

        But German ... no.
        We have Korinthenkacker (Korinthe is a type of raisin, and -kacker is a vulgar term for someone who defecates) - this is what the Dutch-German dictionary lists as the German translation for Mierenneuker - and I-Tuepfelchen-Scheisser (again, it's about defecation, this time of the dot on the

    • Re:Vigilante? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @02:36PM (#54166175) Journal

      on the internet, they're called "Grammar Nazis". Maybe people who correct bad grammar aren't so bad after all...

      There used to be a site called Portland Pattern Repository at c2.com that was a wiki and discussion board for software-engineering-related topics. There was nothing really like it for general software engineering topics and debates. It wasn't a help-desk like StackOverflow, but up at the philosophical level. (It's messy, but arguably this accurately mirrors the different viewpoints and lack of formal research in SE.)

      It was the very first wiki, invented by Ward Cunningham, who coined the term "wiki" for a kind of web collaboration software resembling Apple Hypercard. ("Wiki" is based on a Hawaiian word for "quick".)

      Anyhow, a grammar-and-spelling-correcting "grammar vandal" (GV) ended up killing the wiki, which is set to read-only mode for now.

      To save it, volunteers had built scripts to try to back out GV's changes, but GV was highly persistent and kept a step ahead of the clean-up scripts, flooding it with garbage at times. GV was one determined SOB.

      Part of the problem was that some of the corrections were questionable/debatable in nature and potentially changed the interpretation different from what an author had intended (some content was signed). GV argued this was a small price to pay for improving overall grammar and spelling, which most disagreed with. Negotiations for a compromise broke down; GV wanted full editing control.

      The wiki is still alive in read-only mode, but Ward Cunningham decided to experiment with a "federated wiki" concept whereby different participants can keep a version of how they wanted the content to look and more control over who can change one's own copy. Interesting idea in theory, but so far it's failed to catch on the way the original did. It makes things too fractured for users and readers. And, you pretty much have to manage your own federated-wiki-server to participate.

      GV believed "my way or no way" and sank the entire ship. Jerk!

  • ...and not trying to correct things like "10 items or less" when there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. (Clue: "ten or less items" is wrong; "ten items or less" isn't.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:16PM (#54165067)

      Not less but fewer. ...ten or fewer items...

      Items are countable.

      • Even worse are the people who confuse the style guide their teacher taught from with "rules" of English.

      • Wow I wish the OP had also exhibited lousy reading skills and got modded +5.
        Now I'm going to explain to those who can be arsed to read the post properly why a sign announcing "Ten items or less" (notice the word order?) is not wrong.

        "Ten items or less" is not a sentence, therefore you are being asked to infer meaning from it. From that point on, the "less" refers to whatever you then infer. You might well think, when you spot the sign, "Ten items or less? Thats OK, my basketful is less."

        A non-sentence canno

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:54PM (#54165323)

      Oh, cripes. Are you suggesting that less & fewer are *sometimes* interchangeable? Wonderful. Just what we need is another ambiguity in this language.

      I've heard the argument that what you have in your shopping basket ("groceries") is a fluid quantity because you don't talk about having a 'grocery'. That sort of makes sense. I think it's like quantum mechanics though. As soon as you take the groceries out of the basket and put them on the conveyor, they cease being fluid and become discrete "items".

      I would refuse to shop in a place that has "10 items or less" on a sign. :-)

      There's everything "wrong with it" when you've spent decades using "fewer" for that which is discrete and "less" only for that which is fluid or continuous.
      "10 items or less" just sounds wrong.

      • As soon as you take the groceries out of the basket and put them on the conveyor, they cease being fluid and become discrete "items".

        How many discrete items are 1.5 pounds of grapes, sold by the pound?

      • There are some places on the internet where fluid quantities are denoted by the -age suffix. The basket would be full of foodage.

  • by earthloop ( 449575 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:09PM (#54165013) Homepage

    I have a friend who has the nickname 'Chip'. I keep suggesting to him that he should open a fish and chip shop and call it.....

    Chip's

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:11PM (#54165027) Journal

    A few years ago a local artist improved a confusing L.A. freeway sign, making an interstate number shield in the process:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the... [slate.com]

    https://www.good.is/articles/t... [www.good.is]

    http://gizmodo.com/how-one-fed... [gizmodo.com]

    One down, 9,999 to go...

    • by MTalisman ( 632214 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @01:14PM (#54165503) Homepage
      I have often wanted to change the traffic sign at the exit of the George Washington Bridge in NYC onto the Harlem River Drive from
      Use Both Lanes
      to
      Use Either Lane
      • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

        Of all the confusing and uninformative signs along the entire GWB, this is the one you fixate on? At least it tells you the correct direction to go in!

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      I've always treated "I could care less" as implied sarcasm, as in:

      I could care less..... if I really, really tried hard.

      • Which is likely the origin - specifically, NY Jewish culture. There are several similar sarcastic phrases (e.g. "I should be so lucky") in use.

  • Wrong Criminal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrLogic17 ( 233498 )

    The real criminals here are the sign makers. People who's job is written communication are either unable or unwilling to see basic, simple mistakes.
    None of these incorrect signs should exist.

    Moral of the story: just because you're paying someone, doesn't mean they are competent at their job.

  • Works at night correcting signs because if he did it during the day someone would surely correct his face.

    Whereas, grammar may have reached an epidemic of horribleness*, I think grammar Nazis are perhaps more of a problem than grammer**.

    * deliberate use of an unword
    ** I wanted to make someone's skin crawl with that spelling mistake.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      Shame on you. Kelsey Grammer's name should be capitalized. But I will admit that he isn't much of a problem these days.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The funny thin is that this asshole claims he "didn't know the significance of the sign or the watchtower," when it is explained right on the freaking sign he vandalized.

  • Did you RTFA? If you read only the summary, you did.
  • The grammar police need to chill. Constant word smithing to correct insignificant grammar issues takes away from meaningful ideas and suggestions.

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