Spectacular spelling fail

A Wisconsin highway sign, noted on The Smallest Minority site on July 30:

(under the heading “Guvernment Skools” and filed under “Education”). The company that made the sign quickly fixed it (the instructions to the company had everything spelled correctly).

The spectacular spelling fail — all three words on the main sign are misspelled — is, you will see, attributed to the school system; it’s framed as yet another symptom of the appalling decline in the quality of schooling. (Some of the comments also snipe at Wisconsinites.)

For some people, everything bad in language is the fault of the schools, or of young people, or both, and these opinions seem to be immune to facts. In the case at hand, there’s an obvious alternative hypothesis.

All three errors are letter inversions: IS for SI, IE for EI, EI for IE. This is just too perfect (well, too perfectly wrong). It’s what you see in the spelling of many dyslexics (I’ve had dyslexic students who spelled like this — very bright students, I hasten to add). If that’s the root cause, then we might wonder how a dyslexic came to be making up highway signs.

(Hat tip to Victor Steinbok.)

3 Responses to “Spectacular spelling fail”

  1. Bob Says:

    I don’t think “Rothschield” is an inversion. According to the link, it’s meant to be “Rothschild”, so the “e” is entirely extraneous. Perhaps the signmaker was influenced by the “field” in the other name and wanted to make the ending “shield”.

    Or maybe the Germanness of the “Rothsch-” beginning made the signmaker feel obligated to include an “ie” or “ei”.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Bob: quite so. I got it wrong.

  3. hsgudnason Says:

    @Bob: Actually, the Germanness is in the “Roth-,” and the last element is indeed “shield” (or, at least, “schild,” assuming it’s named after the European family).

    The h is there are a vestigial bit of orthography.

    And given the variety of ways that German names are spelled and pronounced in English, I’m not surprised sign painters were confused (which doesn’t say that they shouldn’t have checked before they painted).

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