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The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time Hardcover – August 3, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Deck is a man on a mission. From greasy spoon menus to national park signs, he and his cohorts (including co-author Herson) road trip around the nation looking for, and attempting to correct, spelling mistakes, misplaced apostrophes, and other small but apparently significant abuses to the English language. While Deck and friends approach their trip with a good sense of humor, early chapters feel prosaic. Before departing Deck contemplates the "madness" of the endeavor. Is correct commas from a car really all that wild? And surely we could have done without the litany of bear-related pet names Deck's girlfriend often employs when addressing him. Given that most readers drawn to this book will already share the authors' penchant for consistent and "proper" language, more substantial exploration of their evolving motivation would have been stimulating. Deck and Herson speed past questions of race, class, dialect, and education that their quest inherently raises. While the moments of human interaction run from tender to hostile, the end result doesn't add up to more than the sum of its anecdotes. Though the many snapshots included (often in the "before and after" vein, showing the fruits of their labor) add welcome humor.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Indie Next List, "Great Reads from Booksellers You Trust," August 2010

Boston Globe Bestseller

"[THE GREAT TYPO HUNT], where editor meets road trip, is entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking, and one that any lover of language, travel — or both — will probably enjoy."
The Boston Globe

"[A]n illuminating hybrid of travelogue, English usage textbook and sociological experiment."
Washington Post

"[C]omplete with breezy writing, mock superhero prologues, and a serious mission to return phonics and proofreading to places of honor."
Christian Science Monitor

"Part classic road-trip narrative, buddy-love saga and state-of-the-nation survey, it's also an adventure thriller for grammar fiends, travel porn for copy editors and other enforcers of linguistic propriety."
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Deck and Herson show the reader that adventures in language needn’t be limited to the computer screen or printed page. In their view, the real excitement’s out there on the open road, and they want you to share it."
—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"[B]reezy and fun....most interesting when it delves into issues of class and race...and in its discussion of the plasticity of the English language."

“This pair of kooks, with their high standards and principled civil disobedience, give me hope for the future of humanity.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard College professor, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought
“A compelling read! Deck and Herson have brilliantly combined the exploratory curiosity of the travel writer, the human interest of the story-teller, and the explanatory detail of the language specialist into an original, humorous, and engaging narrative. Anyone interested in language standards, attitudes, and education should read this enticing book.”
—David Crystal, author of Just a Phrase I'm Going Through and By Hook or By Crook: a Journey in Search of English

“Only Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson could make the complete decline of the English language so entertaining. It's heartening to accompany these two young men on their quixotic quest to identify and rehabilitate the typos, spellos, and prepostrophes that threaten to bring down civilization as we know it.”
—Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English

“With sly humor and pitch-perfect tone, Jeff and Benjamin take us on a hilarious ride in a '97 Sentra around the U.S.A. in search of malapropisms and misprints on everything from menus to marquees, bumpers to billboards.  It's a spell-checker's On the Road, a Strunk & White Odyssey, a charming Travels with My Dictionary with two young men who start as linguists and end as friends.”
—Michael Malone, author of Handling Sin and The Four Corners of the Sky
“In this seriously funny--and seriously thoughtful--book, a simple typo hunt becomes something more: an investigation into the deeper mysteries of orthographical fallibility. To err is human; to correct, divine!”
—Patricia T. O'Conner, author of Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

“A funny and obsessive adventure that any language lover will appreciate.”
—David Wolman, author of Righting the Mother Tongue:  From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307591077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591074
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Great Typo Hunt is the hilarious tale of the adventures and misadventures encountered on a quixotic cross-country trek to correct grammar and spelling mistakes. Over-the-top heroic tone and witty wordplay make this book endlessly amusing, without detracting from the larger point the authors are trying to make about the importance of clear and coherent communication. An overall fun read that will change the way you look at typos.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm one of those people who spots typos everywhere - restaurant menus, shop signs, etc. - and I promise I'm not trying. So I looked forward to The Great Typo Hunt as a quick read. A few pages in, though, I wasn't sure I'd make it through the first chapter, let alone the whole book. Deck is a guy who won't use one word when he might use three, and those three are words that are apt to come up on someone's SAT vocab study list. Every few paragraphs, I'd read a sentence aloud to encourage groaning commiseration from my husband, but I soldiered on, hoping things would mellow out a bit as the guys finally hit the road.

And it did, to some degree. The chapter or two when Deck would discuss issues including how spelling is taught in American schools, or how spelling does or does not relate to spoken language and how it all became codified through history, are pleasant to read - he sticks to the business and relates information in a friendly, clear way. But when back to his own travels - and worst, when writing about his girlfriend, alluding to the fact that they have sex, and insinuating that she only talks in baby-talk and pet names - his self-mythologizing over-writing is just way too much to take.
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Format: Hardcover
For me, it's the plural with an unnecessary apostrophe. The sign at the grocery says: "Apple's." I notice the mistake, sigh, and pass by. Not Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson, though. They are the founding members of TEAL, the Typo Eradication Advancement League, helpful strangers (call them "grammar vigilantes" at your peril) who wander into town, spot the signs with misspellings or bad punctuation, and make corrections. They did this as a mission throughout our land, traveling from one coast to another with their trusty Wite-Out, chalk, pens, crayons, and dry-erase markers of every hue. Sometimes the strangers got a thank you for their helpful corrections. Sometimes they got scorn. And one set of corrections was made into a federal case against them. The rousing, funny, and instructive story is told in _The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time_ (Crown Publishers), written in Deck's first person but with both credited as authors. In 2007, a college reunion got Deck to thinking about what he had accomplished in his life. He had just returned from his five-year reunion at Dartmouth College, embarrassed by his lack of post-graduate accomplishment; he had been an editor, and an administrative assistant for an office that studied climate change, but he wasn't having much effect on the world. And then, walking outside his apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts, he got a sign: "PRIVATE PROPERTY - NO TRESSPASSING" it said. He'd seen it before, but that extra S hadn't bothered him so much. "What if I were to step forward and do something?" he asked himself.

The answer: "Typo hunting was the good that I, Jeff Deck, was uniquely suited to visit upon society.
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Format: Hardcover
The Great Typo Hunt is a fantastic read that honestly had me laughing out loud at times (usually on a crowded bus or train). It's a road trip story of two friends who have a crazy idea: drive around the country correcting typos. Their adventures and the typos they find along the way not only make you laugh but also make you want to cry at what some of these mistakes say about the American population. They found over 400 typos on their trip and learned a lot about society along the way. A part that really resonated with me was when they discussed people's innate fear of looking stupid. Many people along the way would rather leave the sign incorrect then admit that they had made an error. They discussed how people sometimes limit their written vocabulary in an attempt to hide their lack of understanding about spelling and grammar. As a young child I remember being told that I could never be smart because I was a bad speller. An even now, as an adult with an BA from an Ivy league institution and an MBA from one of the top business schools in the country, I still find myself dumbing down emails, texts, Facebook posts, and even book review posts in an attempt to hide my inability to spell. That section not only shook me to the core but made me realize that I was not alone. Trust me, something about this book will resonate with you. And if nothing else, you will certainly understand proper apostrophe usage and you will become aware of the immense amount of typos that exist in the written text you pass by every day. If you like travel, adventure, or even grammar, this book is a great read and will have you discussing it with friends for days.
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Format: Hardcover
If the characters from the TV show _The Big Bang Theory_ were word (rather than tech) geeks who took a USA-spanning road trip and wrote a book about their adventures, it would be _The Great Typo Hunt_. Whether reading their tales sounds appealing depends greatly on your state of mind and whether you find such simple musings of a 20-something Garrison Keillor wannabe more worthy than those of an Ivy League-educated George Costanza.

Editor Jeff Deck and friends form the Typo Eradication Advancement League to counter their dismay with poorly written signs. It's hard not to go through a day without spotting a "Its 2 for 1 day!" or "Serving capuchino" sign, right? Bad grammar and spellings abound. TEAL takes matters--and letters--into its own hands. Deck and friends pile into his car and do the great American highway loop, stopping now and then in unsuspecting towns to avenge the cause of proper English. Armed with a set of correcting tools, they wage war on extraneous apostrophes and missing silent e's.

Truth is, the idea is more winsome than the execution. Something of a meditation on language, communication, and societal conventions, _The Great Typo Hunt_ lives or dies on its ability to find profundity in the common.

Despite my work as a writer and editor, I had a difficult time connecting with the book. Perhaps I'm just a Baby Boomer geezer, but the protagonists came off as Ivy League slackers who need to snap out of whatever reverie they've plummeted into. For that reason, connecting with the protagonists of this real life story never happened for me. While I thought their basic premise for action had merit, more than once I wanted to give them a good thrashing and tell them to get a life and stop gazing at society's navel.
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