Friday, May 02, 2014


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I can't claim the high moral ground when it comes to proofreading. I'm still finding typos in stuff I wrote many years ago and had proofread more than once since.

Today, with so much stuff just online, you can correct your typos as though they never existed. Hardcopy is another matter. And another matter still is when they are cast in stone, or just plain cast.

The picture above is from the 1964 film "A Home of Your Own" and it shows Bernard Cribbins sculpting an inscription on a monument in a new housing estate to be opened by the mayor the following morning. The unveiling of the monument brings gasps from the crowd as the finished inscription is suddently revealed as "The money for this erection was raised by pubic subscription". Your worst nightmare. I've never forgotten it.

And when you end up doing legislation, where whole new legistlation is required to be passed to correct any typos you've missed, I can tell you that sharpens up your proofreading skills.

Still, no one is perfect, not even in 1850, when this gate for Brian Boru's well at Castle Avenue Clontarf was cast. You'd need to be wide awake to spot it: the H should follow the M in Brian's name. The cló rómhánach here denies us the luxury of the floating buailte (see below)

An author, who is an authority on matters relating to Clontarf, attempted to persuade me that this was a legitimate variation in the name, but when I looked up his own book on the matter I found he had actually corrected it himself in his text.

And in case you think I'm having a go at Dublin and its suburbs, I'll take you as far west as my granny's birthplace in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, where BOHOLA has dropped an O in the casting. [Update - 11/2/2015: Carol Maddock has just pointed out that I missed the apostrophe in "area's" and I've now spotted another one in "1950's". Clearly proofreading is a never ending task.]

[Update - 5/4/2016: "Bohola" has now been corrected but it looks as if the other two typos have been reproduced in this new plaque.]

Or to my father's birthplace, Ballyhaunis, in the same county, where the MILLENNIUM has dropped an N in the same process.

Not so nice when your typos are cast and would require a complete recast to remedy them.

There are some fine cast signs which currently suffer from typos but where the typo is not in the casting but in the subsequent tarting up. These are easily remedied. But, of course, you have to spot them first.

The above sign, from the Cornmarket in Wexford town, is perfectly cast. However when it came to tarting it up subsequently there was a problem. Tarting up meant painting the whole thing gray and then painting the surround and the script white. And they did a lovely job. But nobody told them that those little irregularites over the d and the b were in fact part of the script - Irish buailtes or séimhiús which mutate the consonants concerned.

I remember floating buailtes from school. Quite often, given the complexity of Irish grammar, you were not sure whether to apply one or not. So we always made sure there were a few floating ones above each line of script to be pressed into service as required.

And don't get me started on street name signs in Irish where the follies are a compound of typos and plain pig ignorance. My web page on this comes with a health warning - keep the blood pressure pills handy. Enjoy.


Póló said...

You will, no doubt, be pleased to hear that following contact with the Wexford County Council Irish language Officer and the Burg Engineer, I am told that the Cornmarket sign will be remedied ASAP.

Póló said...

However, it was still the same in November last (2014). Perhaps the Burg had other things on their mind, like abolition.