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English Dictionary

Ironic spelling error becomes Twitter trend

English Dictionary

Ironic spelling error becomes Twitter trend

Those who spent last Thursday and Friday poking about on Twitter, and who have a keen eye for typos, might have flinched at a particular trending topic during those two days. It was one that spawned from sloppiness, developed through irony and rocketed thanks to pure scorn.

trending-topics

If you haven’t spotted it yet, we’re talking about the one second from the bottom on the above screenshot, taken at around 1:30pm on Friday. The subject of grammar schools has been a hot potato ever since Theresa May took her place in 10 Downing Street, but you don’t have to have been to one to notice that thousands of Twitter users were using a misspelt hashtag to have their say on the matter.

Some people even appeared to be arguing in favour of grammar schools, but not realising that they were making a grammatical error themselves by including the wonky hashtag

https://twitter.com/HerRoyalHeinous/status/774222296944898054?lang=en-gb

Maybe we should give these people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were aware of the error, but wanted to include the trending hashtag. Whatever the reason for it was, the irony of the trend was glorious given that entry to a grammar school depends on passing an exam assessing, among other things, spelling and grammar. If that wasn’t enough, last Thursday was International Literacy Day as well, and there was even a moment when #InternationalLiteracyDay and #grammerschools were trending at the same time.

Of course, the ridicule this trend began to attract actually helped it to trend further. Once smarty-pants social media users picked up on the shenanigans, it went from being a common source of befuddlement, to a celebration of British sarcasm and smugness.

All this reminds us that because there is such a high volume of content on the internet, the same mistakes are repeated again and again, and people who enjoy lampooning this can have a field day. A good example of this is the Twitter page Pokémon not Pokeman, which appears to be on a crusade to rid the world of the incorrect spelling of the Japanese gaming franchise. The account has only been active since July 2016, but has already racked up nearly 20,000 tweets, most of which are scolding people for spelling it ‘Pokeman’.

To avoid getting yourself into a potentially embarrassing situation, remember that just because a lot of people are saying it, it doesn’t make it right. If a lot of people can’t spell ‘grammar’, that’s how #grammerschools ends up trending. You don’t want to be one of those who are missing the irony, so before you dive into a trend, make sure you understand its context first.

John Murray
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