I have an announcement to make, chicos and chicas: linguistics has grown dreadlocks. And it has adopted anarchy as its preferred method of doing politics.
If the idea of defenders of language sometimes brings an image of a bespectacled, middle-age male scholar wearing a well-worn tweed jacket with leather elbows and a tuft of grey hair decorating his body's attic, then kiss that vision goodbye because the revolution, baby, is here and is happening right now.
Pablo Zulaica is a twenty-seven year old Spaniard from Vitoria, the Basque Country. Fed up with what he, rightly, considered to be beyond-the-pale mistakes on billboards and posters, he armed himself with a bag of portable, adhesive accents and started correcting those advertisements with typos on them.
Although Pablo's actions have been mainly limited to Mexico, where he has resided for the last two years, his enterprise caught the eye of other like-minded folk who could not take the spelling gaffes that polluted our cities anymore. And that's how nowadays from Argentina to New York there are human Tipp-Exes marauding the streets looking for those hideous signs that transgress the boundaries of decent linguistics in order to amend them.
Zulaica has confessed that his is not a political agenda. His aim is to change attitudes to spelling in outdoor advertising not to antagonise people. He wants both businesses and politicians to be more careful with language and to use it properly. Not surprisingly he is the offspring of two journalists and as a young child was always interested in the intricate world of letters and accents.
It was hightime that linguistics found its own Robin Hood and Pablo Zulaica is our principled (totally legal) outlaw. And if you live in London and begin to see grocers' signs with the correct apostrophes on them, please, don't turn me in. It's all in defense of language, guv.
Next Post 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music', to be published on Sunday 15th November at 10am (GMT)