The Grammar Vigilante

For the past 10 years, someone has been going around Bristol, England in the middle of the night, and fixing signs that contain poor punctuation.

His journey began when he scratched out an extraneous apostrophe on a sign. His methods now are a bit more sophisticated.

He has built an “apostrophiser” – a long-handled device that allows him to reach up to shop signs to add in, or cover up, offending punctuation marks.

The identity of the man remains unknown but on Monday, April 5, the BBC announced it had tracked him down and had accompanied him on one of his night-time missions.

Here is part of the video that was captured:

He told the BBC,  “I’m a grammar vigilante. “I do think it’s a cause worth pursuing.”

While some say there could be something illegal about what he does, the unknown vigialnate claims that bad grammar is an even bigger crime.

I also believe proper grammar is important, but this guy seems to be taking such a belief to the extreme.

My advice would be to stop acting like a vigilante, and to instead just leave a note with the owner explaining the grammar/punctuation errors.

This way, if the owner wants to fix the sign, he can perhaps let this vigilante take care of it, or hire someone else to do.

But the owner may say no.

Perhaps it was the poor grammar on the signs that actually attracted people’s attention to the business, and made it easier for potential customers to remember the name of the business. By fixing the grammar first and asking questions next, this vigilante could actually be harming the businesses he as hoping to help.

Fixing the sign could take away what made the sign unique and memorable.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The vigilante has gotten his 15 minutes of fame; and he’ll realize it’s time to move onto something else.

Maybe he can come up with a quick way to fix fake news stories.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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