Acción Ortográfica, the didactic enemy of the misuse of the Spanish language on the streets
Incorrectly punctuated phrases, accent marks that are nowhere to be found, a ‘b’ instead of a ‘v’ (or vice versa) or one of those that trigger the most indignation among the Spanish-speaking community, confusing “a ver” (to see) with “haber” (to have). If you have ever paid attention to the writing and graffiti flooding the streets of any city in which Spanish is the parent language, you will find these misspellings to be quite common.
Perhaps because of the generally hurry that people are in, they may frequently go unnoticed by a large part of the passer-byers. However, to the sharp-eyed observers, they elicit from a smile to indignation, depending on the magnitude of the blunder. And then there are those who decide to act, correcting the errors –as if correcting a spelling test—that are “visually impairing”.
Under the pen name “Acción Ortográfica Quito”, a group of anonymous citizens from the Ecuadoran city of Quito have decided to face up to the misuse of Spanish in written poems and declarations of love stamped on the walls of their streets. How? By modifying the graffiti with punctuation marks, question marks, accent marks… and uploading the result on their social networks.
El menda que le hizo este homenaje a Zorrilla en la calle de las Huertas andaba corto de metal para las comas. pic.twitter.com/9tPPQ98MNw
— Acción Ortográfica M (@AcciOrtografica) enero 4, 2015
A didactic and fun task since many cannot possibly force a smile when passing by one of those edited graffiti, which replica is in the Spanish capital: Acción Ortográfica Madrid (ACOMA). The initiative, which in the case of Quito has quickly aroused the admiration of the users following and sharing their movements from their Twitter profile, is open to all. As explained on its Facebook profile, the only requirements to participate is to find a badly-written text in the city, correct it (whether at the site or through the computer) and send them the image. Among their most commented corrections? A phrase by writer José Zorilla decorating one of the streets of Madrid.
However, and though they have become quite popular in recent weeks, the truth is that these movements defending the correct use of language are not new. The Ad Agency Acentos Perdidos (AP), created by the Basque Pablo Zulaica, has been “denouncing” the misspellings it finds in its path –whether on billboards, walls, or police cars—on its blog, since 2009. Because, when it comes to writing effectively and correctly no one is (or should be) out of harm’s way.