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Ergo Sum

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Get Literate America Initiative

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What's good for Columbus is good for America.

After the stunning success of my Get Literate Columbus Initiative I found myself disappointed with what followed when recently in Washington. Guess what my bottle is made of?

In this metropolis shaped by such great attention to design I fully expected not to find myself in need of highlighting another case of inattention to detail, the sort of thing that grates upon one who assigns meaning to words and related accoutrements of language—you know, people who actually read and listen.

It is neither the city nor the government seated here that raises my ire any more than usual today. That the District of Columbia is at all involved is a mere accident of history: it is here that I had the misfortune to witness the packaging that is sure to be shipped throughout the ostensibly English-speaking world.

Gentle reader, I draw your attention to the imperative statement shown in the picture nearby. You are in good company should you find yourself struggling to find the imperative. Undoubtedly you find that punctuation is more than a splash of ink that comes from sloppy printing but in fact the sort of convention that aids in the presentation and interpretation of written material.

Indeed what we have is grammatical impedance mismatch. Punctuation presents us an interrogative, as indicated by that fancy-schmancy question mark at the end of the sentence. So bravely and dutifully we go charging into the sentence in search of the what or who that must be identified to provide the proper response. Our failure to find such a thing is, alas, not our fault. For what we find having entered into the domain of a question is not a question at all but a command. We have been viciously misled into believing that information would be requested when in fact we have been ordered to provide such information.

As a service to the copy writers at Heinz and any others who might be tempted to suppose that illiterate nonsense will appeal to a wider audience, I hereby offer an imperative of my own. Guess who won't be hired to write my firm's copy.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2011-10-29 10:24 AM
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