My younger daughter’s class is learning the names of the provinces and their capitals. The class has to take their Canadian geography test until they get it all right. My daughter practiced at home over and over – and she really knows her stuff.
But she will have to take the test a third time, just like the rest of her class. Yes, she knows it all, but she keeps making little errors. Like writing “WinniPeg”. Like placing Iqaluit on the mainland by accident. Little stuff like that.
Little stuff that proofreading would fix.
Why is this so important?
Well, I was reviewing a contract recently, full of the usual legalese, when I came across something most non-usual:
“Where it shall appear to the partners that this Agreement, or any terms and conditions contained in this agreement, are in any way ineffective or deficient, or not expressed as originally intended, and any alteration or addition shall be deemed necessary, the partners will enter into, execute, and perform all murder be an instrument as their counsel shall advise. Any addition, alteration, or modification shall be in writing, and no oral agreement shall be effective.”
Did you miss it? OK, here is the abbreviated version:
Yadda yadda yadda yad yadda yadda yad. Yadda yadda yadda yadda yad yadda yad yadda. Yadda yadda yadda the partners will enter into, execute, and perform all murder yadda yad yadda. Yadda yadda yadda yadda yad yadda.
OK, clearly something went wrong in that paragraph. In fact, my best guess is that two things went wrong. First, it looks like a bad cut and paste left out a few words, because the end of that sentence doesn’t quite fit onto the rest of the sentence. Like trying to sort through the plane crash debris and placing Julia Roberts head on Hulk Hogan’s body (Yes, as a matter of fact I did have a troublesome sleep last night – why do you ask?). Second, at the junction between the two parts of the sentence, we discover a murder – probably a spell-check anomaly as a result of the bad cut-and-paste, but still leaving us with some important questions unanswered:
- Exactly who are these partners supposed to murder?
- Does it matter what weapon is used?
- Will the murderer be indemnified by anybody (contracts are always full of people indemnifying each other for their sins, right?)
I love a good murder mystery as much as the next guy. And contracts are common in murder mysteries. But a murder mystery is pretty rare in a contract.
So, for the benefit of my dear daughter, you see that proofreading can save a person from more than just being caught in an endless loop geography test. It could even save you from murder.