News of an unveiling of a statue dedicated to Emily Carr, a famous BC artist known for her paintings of West Coast forests and coastal villages, got sidetracked by the glaring typo in the statue’s inscription:
Dedicated to honour BC’s best know citizen,
Pre-eminent painter and awarded writer, Emily Carr.
Hoo boy. The typo was spotted immediately at the unveiling – and contrary to the calls for “spell check!” by the husband of the artist who created the statue, “best know” would not be picked up a spell checker, because that tool doesn’t check the context of a word or its usage.
This could be just a comment about what a real human, trained proofreader can do – avoid costly mistakes like having to get a bronzed plaque redone – but it’s more than that. I mean, look at the clunky copy: “pre-eminent” – try famous or well-known; “painter” – artist would be more appropriate; and “awarded writer” – was she awarded to someone? No, she’s an accomplished writer, an award-winning writer – or better yet, an author.
As a copy writer, I can tell you that the fewer words you have to work with, the more work you have to do to make them count.
Let’s see if I can do this in 15 words or less (the above copy is 14 words):
Dedicated in honour of Emily Carr (1871-1945),
famed artist, author, and citizen of British Columbia.
OK, 16 words. But my line lengths are about the same. How’d I do?