I had then recently joined the center. As is quite fashionable (it wasn’t when I did my graduation at some other institution), the young members of the center decided to have T-shirts made with the center’s name. The student who took up the responsibility of preparing the design for the T-shirts was earlier associated with the center but had shifted to some other more respectable center.
The design was created, T-shirts were made and they were paid for and worn by almost all the members of the center. The text on them said ‘The Langauge Cookers’ or ‘The Lagnuage Cookers’ (more likely the latter), with the Language part in a very large size.
One day I was returning to the lab, along with a couple of other graduate students. An undergraduate student (most probably from a more respectable center) came from the opposite side and stopped. He stood in front of the one who was wearing that newly made T-shirt. He put his finger on the misspelled text on the T-shirt and said the following in a tone that is used to point out the incredible stupidity of someone:
- You know that this spelling is wrong?
He was from a center not dealing in mere language.
The T-shirt wearer couldn’t say anything because he hadn’t realized that there was a spelling error. I had noticed the error and had thought that the designer of the T-shirt had chosen a smart and humorous way to say something positive about the mission of the center and the discipline. I was too shocked to reply immediately, but I found the words in time:
- It’s deliberate.
Now it was his turn to be dumbstruck.
- It’s deliberate?
- Yeah, of course it’s deliberate.
I couldn’t resist being scornful. He was still dumbstruck.
- But why?
I didn’t have time to formulate a reply because he left soon after that.
I narrated the incident once or twice to others and they seemed to share my feelings.
Well, time passed (as they say), and I came to know that there were many others in the center who had not noticed the spelling error recreated in such a large size. Or they hadn’t thought about it.
Then I found out that the general consensus outside the center was that the designer of the T-shirt (along with others) had great fun at the expense of the whole center and that the typo was indeed deliberate (what else could it be?), but the designer had wanted to say something very different from what I had imagined.
He was a well liked member of the center and later moved to an Ivy League U.S. university. He remained a well liked (albeit former) member.
My head still hurts from thinking about it. But I can’t escape it because every day something reminds me of this, especially in academics.
Do I hear someone saying that there really are some typos in many posts on this blog?