Friday, August 5, 2011

Claire With an e, Please...

'But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne spelled with an e.'
'What difference does it make how it's spelled?' asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.
'Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can't you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-N-N looks dreadful, but A-N-N-E looks so much more distinguished.'
Many of you Capers had opportunity to drive past the new sign this side of the Route 50 overpass directing travelers into our fine community. I'm sure whoever decided it was needed had the best of intentions, but something went a little wrong between intent and execution (isn't that often the case?). Even though we are the largest community on the Broadneck Peninsula - one of the largest in Annapolis - the powers that be still managed to get our name wrong. Instead of being directed into Cape St. Claire, the new sign was spelled Cape St. Clair - simply "dreadful".

Capers very quickly noted the problem and posted some wry comments on the I Live in Cape St. Claire Facebook page. The names and faces have been deleted to protect the innocent (or smartassy :)...

  •  I can't believe those darned teenagers stole it already! :-)
    Yesterday at 8:18am · 
  • Damn budget cuts!!!
    Yesterday at 9:07am ·
  • Its the economy, you're right. Good thing they got the debt ceiling raised!
    Yesterday at 9:32am · 
  • i just noticed that too, maybe one of our residents can help with a can of paint? LOL
    Yesterday at 10:15am · 
  • Maybe someone can track down FTH for us since they have no problem writing on all of our other signs.
    Yesterday at 10:59am · 
  • ‎...but he doesn't have an "e" either :)
    Yesterday at 11:13am · 
  • What is the location of the sign? I will conact the SHA.
    22 hours ago ·
  • We don't need no stinkin' "e".
    22 hours ago ·
  •  is that a new sign???
    21 hours ago ·
  •  It's new, its right after you cross over 50 on the overpass. When you're heading towards Cape (from WaWa) it's on the right.
    18 hours ago · 
  •  It's not like we spell Claire in some funky unusual local way!! I guess the sign company doesn't use spell check before they paint those puppies.
    18 hours ago ·
  • I think it's due to the economy ...... they had to make budget cuts and the E drew the short straw ;-)
    17 hours ago ·
  • I just saw it. I think there is a new one up over head too. Near old mill bottom.
    17 hours ago ·
  • What, exactly, was wrong with the old signs that they had to replace them?
    17 hours ago · 

The misspelling of a name can trigger something visceral in us. As my all-time favorite heroine Anne Shirley of Green Gables fame so aptly explains in the above excerpt, our names are more than just the way they sound. We also identify strongly with the way they are spelled. When we think of a person's name, the spelling is integral to our association with that person, and when someone gets the spelling of our names wrong, we are quick to correct them and rarely let it lie.

My daughter Kathryn is burdened with a name that has myriad traditional spelling possibilities, not to mention the dozens of nickname variations. My son Henry is in safer territory unless he travels to France where they spell it with a silly i and say it like a donkey's bray, or Germany where Heinrich sounds like a throat being cleared during a bad cold. My husband Mark largely avoids spelling concerns with his simple four-letter name. The alternative Marc is pretty uncommon, although he was plagued for years with credit card statements that came addressed to him as Martha - an old mixup stemming from the switching of his name with his mother's.

As for me, I have seen my name spelled all manner of ways over the years, all of which I have found unsettling. The spellings are fine in and of themselves. They simply are not me. I am Christy, short for Christina (and only my Dad calls me THAT) - not Kristy, Kristie, Cristy, Cristi, Christie, Christi or Krysti. I was particularly flipped out to receive a certificate at work one time with the name Tina printed on it. Tina? I just don't identify as a Tina in any way. I used a Sharpie to add the Chris on the front end.

Anyway, Cape residents were justifiably taken aback to see the all important e in Claire dropped from the name of our beloved community. While I'm sure no harm was meant by it, the impression is that we were somehow not significant enough for the typo to have caught ANYONE'S attention before being mounted on the side of the highway for everyone to see. It doesn't even look right, does it? Anne Shirley would deem it "the most tragical thing that has ever happened...".

Well, I'm happy to report that the error has been remedied before it could result in a full blown identity crisis for our neighborhood or general confusion for outsiders. Kudos to the State Highway Administration for hustling to correct their mistake. The new e is slightly lower than the rest of the lettering, and it is a little squished, but the casual observer would not notice anything amiss. It's certainly better than Sharpie. I don't know if this is the permanent fix, but it will suffice to quell our initial indignation.

By the way, does anyone know if this is a new sign? Is it a replacement for an old one? I can't recall seeing one before, but my powers of observation are not the sharpest. I do kind of like it now that the e is in its rightful place. As I said, I'm sure the intent was sincere despite the glaring error. While I somehow doubt the Highway Administration lost any sleep over all this (other than the poor schmucks who had to slap up the missing e in the wee hours of the night), they can take solace in Anne's redeeming words that I always keep close to my heart, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."

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