The NSW Department Of Education Needs To Go Back To School

The NSW Department Of Education Needs To Go Back To School

You may have noticed we’re sticklers for accuracy, spelling, grammar and punctuation here at Lifehacker. This can make things exceedingly awkward when a typo happens to slip through our ranks, but that is the cross we pedants must bear.

Blackboard picture from Shutterstock

Now we don’t want to make a habit of pointing out the punctuation gaffes of various companies and organisations, but when the perpetrator is the NSW Department Of Education And Communities (DEC), it’s pretty hard to resist.

On the front page of its Leaving School website, the DEC lists the emotions, aspirations and fears that graduates may experience as they embark upon a new life as adults. Pay attention to the last sentence.

Did you spot the mistake? We think you’ll agree that this isn’t a terribly good look for an organisation with ‘Education’ in its title. What we can learn from this is that it always pays to carefully proofread your copy — there are some things that even a spell-cheque wont pick up.

What’s the worst spelling bungle you’ve seen/made in a customer-facing document? Let us know in the comments section below.


      • I had to look at it two or three times to pick that up. I read once that the human brain is so used to interpreting certain phrases and sayings that often we will actually “auto correct” what we read even when the words are wrong. I know that I read the above sentance “correctly” as “what we want to do” at least twice before I noticed the discrepency.

        • Me too. I would suspect this is more a proof reading mistake rather than a spelling mistake. They haven’t spelled a word incorrectly so much as accidentally substituted one word for another, in other words it’s a typo.

          You get a lot of shit for your spelling, LH, but this isn’t anywhere near as bad as your mistakes which occur at an incredibly high frequency.

          • I couldn’t pick it myself until I looked in the comments, and I do pride myself on being somewhat of a spelling and grammar nazi. For a devoted reader/writer it’s easy to internalise the missing or incorrect word. My guess is that a neophyte reader (young person) would be more likely to pick this up. Here’s an interesting experiment:

            Ask someone to spell ‘shop’. The will say ‘ s h o p’. Now ask them what to do at a green light. In 20 years of asking this question, I’ve not had a single person say ‘go’. The mind is a wonderful thing.

          • I’ve played that trick with spelling “roast” and then asking “What do you put in a toaster?”. Similar response rate with people responding “toast” instead of “bread”.

    • It’s not that.

      “….haven’t even thought about what we want…”

      Maybe Lifehacker should help out Gizmodo and Kotaku, because I’ve seen some shit get published there.

      • I didn’t mean literally swap the word. I meant the use of of the word “those” should be followed by “whom”….

        But I was wrong anyway!

        I looked over that sentence repeatedly and didn’t spot the double want at all. Whom was the only thing I could think of!

          • While I’m happy to admit my error the word ‘whom’ is neither outdated nor ‘who’ a “perfectly correct” replacement.

            PS – But I believe the term “perfectly correct” is a tautology 😉

            Whom is a pronoun that refers to a person not present in the conversation. Technically, ‘whom’ is the objective-case pronoun of the subjective-case pronoun ‘who,’ where ’whom’ refers to the object of a sentence and ‘who’ refers to the subject. It’s the difference between the accusative form, ‘whom’ and the nominative form, ‘who.’

          • In this sentence “who” is correct because “those of us” is the subject-phrase of the sentence: referring to the actor(s) – or do-ers – in the sentence, not the acted-upon. So “who” was never at issue.

            The linked hotword explanation claiming that the who/whom distinction has to do with whether the person referred to is “present in the conversation” is wrong and very misleading (as at least one of the commenters on that post points out). Presence in the conversation has absolutely nothing to do with it.

            For example, imagine a mother talking to her child – they are the only two present in the conversation:
            “Who is coming to the party?” (Who refers to the subject, the friends who are coming to the party. These friends are not present in the conversation but they are the actors in the sentence.)
            “To whom did you send invitations?”* (The child “you” is the subject or actor – the sender of invitations – while “whom” refers to the friend(s), or object of the action, the recipients of the invitations. Again, the invited friends are not present in the conversation.)

            *Setting aside the fact that a mother, even one well-versed in grammar, would probably never talk to her child so formally! “Who did you send invitations to?” is perfectly acceptable in spoken English, and even in less formal varieties of written English. But it highlights another grammar bugbear about the placement of prepositions. Not going there… 🙂

        • English is a language that evolves over time, I’m only 32 years old and I already know of some spellings and rules of grammar that are now considered archaic and even incorrect in modern English. “To-day” and “To-morrow” hyphenated, and “gaol” was used equally as often as “jail”. “Whom” is even before my time, though.

          • You need to get out more, Tony! 🙂 My 21-year-old nephew knows the difference between who and whom as well as how and when to use the two forms.

          • Whom cares if who or whom is used.

            I am often finicky about grammer and use of proper words, but its perfectly obvious what is meant, it means the same thing just with/without an m, and it sounds fine.

            English is a shocking language, too many rules. It’s as if Apple designed English .. “its not a bad design, you’re speaking it wrong”.

          • I care. If I’m marking a (university level) essay and ‘who’ and ‘whom’ are not correctly used, I’ll comment on it. Mind you, I will not deduct marks for the error. English may be a shocking language, and there are many rules (and non-rules, such as ‘i before e except after c’) but there is still correct and incorrect use of English, particularly in a formal context.

    • To be fair, the sentence fragment follows on from the (cropped out) sentence above the photo. It’s not great structure but it is technically correct.

  • Not kidding but watching porn and in the teacher/student role play (sorry, serious discussion) the “teacher” spelled Tuesday wrong. It was spelled Teusday.

  • No your all wrong it’s becuase they didnt put a apostrphe after the s in “finishes”. Everyone know’s that apostrophe’s come b4 evey “s”. Dumbass’s.

    Now excuse me I must return to playing Call of Duty with my bro’s.

    • Ha! Ashley, what about your incorrect use of “your.” It should be “you’re,” a contracted form of “you are.”

      I got a huge score of 8% for English when I left school at year 10. Thankfully I have learned a lot in the 30+ years since then, though I still struggle with who/whom.

  • My favourite gaff is from the one and only Logan Booker. In a recent article he messed up twice in the first sentance of his article… it! Check it out below…

    “While New Zealand police offers don’t normal carry firearms”

  • There is the story of the secretary who sent out a memo about the importance of removing paper clips from paper before putting them through the shredder. It was ruined by a small typo. The last sentence read “You’d be surprised how much trouble can be caused by one little clit.”

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