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Names Are Important

Did you catch the mistake in the tweet I responded to yesterday? No? Here it is again:

Who the hell is Jerry Bruckenheimer?

His name is Jerry Bruckheimer.
Not pictured: Jerry Bruckenheimer.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice the misspelling at first. It’s easy to miss, since it’s almost correct. But I promise, someone at Bruckheimer Films sure would spot it right away.

I grant you, a name shouldn’t be important. It’s just a word that signifies the person, but it’s not the person himself. CJ clearly meant the powerful and talented Hollywood producer pictured above.

That doesn’t matter. People assign talismanic value to their names. You can remember everything about a person, their physicality, their whole life story, but if you forget their name, they’re insulted.

Spelling their name wrong is almost as bad.   It’s especially bad if their name is easily Google-able.

Not to pick on CJ, but copy/paste is your friend.

The issue isn’t so much lack of knowledge, but over confidence in your knowledge. As David Mitchell1 puts it in one of his soapbox videos

Is this terrible, snobbish discrimination against people who just don’t happen to be good spellers? Well, no, I don’t think so. If you’re a bad speller, surely everything you send should be spelled2 perfectly, because, without the arrogant assumption you don’t need to look things up, you’d look everything up.

I’ve been your friendly neighborhood TAPA for a couple years, now, and I still double-check “ananymous” every now and again.

Don’t be too confident in your spelling, especially with names. Even a simple name like “Price” might be spelled “Pryce.”  And if you misspell Jonathan Pryce’s name on the cast list, you’re going to catch hell from the producer.

Not because he read the cast list, mind you, but because Pryce’s agent will, and he’ll call the producer to complain. The producer has better things to do than check your spelling.

Which is why you should do it, first.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. I had to check whether his name was spelled with one L or two.
  2. I refuse to write “spelt,” which I’m sure is what Mitchell said. My ancestors fought and died in the Revolutionary War so I wouldn’t have to end a past-tense word with “t.”
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