I noticed this little beauty while driving home from my mom’s place in Wakefield:
Location: Main Street and Montvale Avenue, Stoneham, MA
Yikes. It should be Hair Extensions.
Even Jessica Simpson gets it correct.
It may not be correct, but it’s perfectly logical, modeled on inventions, contentions, interventions, conventions, mentions, etc.
contend > contentionextend > extension
Can’t really blame people for extending legitimate existing spelling patterns. Wrong, but makes sense. So it goes.
Logical, smogical – it’s WRONG.
My local Stop & Shop just got remodeled, no doubt at great expense. But not great enough to prevent a typo in one of the aisle signs. These aren’t written in magic marker on whiteboards – these are fancy manufactured signs. So imagine my dismay to see:
I actually called over the store manager and pointed it out to him. He was very embarrassed – as well he should be. There’s no excuse for that!
I’d suggest donning the title of “orthographic anthropologist” when dealing with errors like these. Try to understand the error for what is is, in its own context.
“FINES WINES” is an error of a totally different kind from “extentions”–the former is simply a mistake that once pointed out, everyone will agree is wrong; the latter is a spelling mistake caused by the irregularity of English spelling and multiplicity of homophonous suffixes with different spellings. “FINES WINES” is certainly wrong, and is an error of oversight or carelessness; “exentions” is perfectly readable, from a functional perspective, and only happens to disagree with conventional spelling. Two different things entirely. I’d say something like FINES WINES is in much more serious need of correction.
I think seeking to understand why errors are made not only helps us to understand our own language better, but to have some empathy for the difficulties others have with living up to the standards of perfection required by members of society like our furpurrson here, or even the proprietor of this blog. Errors can teach us a lot about language, and don’t call for derision–it’s just a linguistic version of looking down on the “backwards savages” of the orthographic wilderness. And you won’t learn much from things you’re constantly judging based on your own orthographo-centric views.
I’ve been reading your blog since what I think was your first interview on NPR. I teach 2nd grade. My grammar is not horrible, but it’s far from perfect. I read your blog as mini-lessons in grammar! I love it! As for this post, I honestly had to read it at least 3 times before I figured out the mistake! How terrible is that! I think it must be what the first person said, how there’s other words with that spelling. When I was in school they didn’t bother to teach us formal grammar lessons, instead they just modeled the correct usage. This was definitey a bad strategy.
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