Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stationary vs. Stationery

I have blogged about my peevishness over the conflation of these two words before. I have often vowed, with rare irresistible exceptions, not to purchase from vendors who don't know how to spell their own stock.

But now I see the search results on etsy, and I wonder if I need to mistakenly tag my items with "stationary." I think more people search for "stationary" than "stationery." ARRRRGH!!

I mean, is a postcard really meant to be stationary? I think it's meant to fly...

Apologies for the late-night rant. I think I won't respect myself in the morning if I cave. Persnickety grammarians will agree, and the rest of you will probably think we're just fuddy-duddies. Ah well. Perhaps we are.

19 comments:

  1. My dear:

    Those who really care enough to search for "stationery" are probably the majority of your demographic, anyway.

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  2. Your not an old fuddy duddy at all. Sadly it would seem that society as a whole just does not care anymore. I know I make grammar mistakes all the time and typo's to boot but I do TRY, I have seen a sad lack of younger kids even trying.

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  3. David tried to comment:

    "technically the persnickety grammarians might not care...or if they do, it would be the orthographer in them, not the grammarian. ;o) "

    but I accidentally deleted it. The publish and delete options are way too close to each other.

    David, point taken.

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  4. That is definitely a pet peeve! Figure out what you're selling already!

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  5. Don't do it! Don't give in! How will they ever learn? Let their grammatical incorrectness be a lesson to them: They're going to miss out on all the good stuff.

    ~S.

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  6. Thanks for your rant re stationary/stationery. I have see the "-ary" word SO many times this week and I wince every time. Probablem is that it's often in incoming mail and I would rather read the misspelled word than receive no mail at all. Besides, by the time it hits my desk the stationery becomes stationary anyway, so it's a moot point.

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  7. If you want to be at peace with this issue (and many others), you should consider taking a linguistics class. They take persnickety people, like you and me, and teach us the art of observing language and spelling changes without judging it. I must go meditate now.

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  8. Well... you could inform them the correct spelling if you decide to buy from them, especially so when the item(s) you bought is not stationary anymore. :-D

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  9. Eh, changing the spelling would be selling out--doing something you don't believe in just so that you might make more money. I think the question is more about what you'll do to attract customers than about spelling. Soooo please don't cave in!

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  10. You could always hide "stationary" somewhere on your site. Make the font so tiny it isn't readable, or use a font that is the same color as the background. Search engines will still see it, but unless somebody views your site's html nobody will know!

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  11. Mike - brilliant! I am sure it comes up for this website, given the numerous times I've complained about it. Unfortunately for my etsy site, I have no contol over that coding... I'm not even allowed to use html in my own listings there (which is a whole separate issue that chaps my hide, but enough complaining now).

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  12. Maybe you care to note that not every letter or postcard writer was raised with English as mothertonuge.

    Anni

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  13. Of course, Anni. Though I did not clarify it as such, I was initially referring to American merchants. There are plenty of native English speakers who make this mistake! I think we all have a lot of patience and tolerance for anyone who didn't grow up speaking English as a primary language.

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  14. Ahh, this is also a huge pet peeve of mine, particularly when I'm looking for it and need to search for "stationary" to find anything! It really annoys me when a listing clearly shows a box labeled Stationery and the seller decides it was a typo! They then write Stationary in the listing!

    That said, I've caved in. I tag my products both ways (but the content and titles only refer to stationery).

    Thanks for letting me rant!

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  15. I vote to use "stationary" as one of the tags.

    I'm pulling my librarian/archivist credentials out for this one: people make mistakes, and a savvy retailer (or database builder) will recognize that and account for spelling errors/misinformation.

    There is no such thing as a perfect system, and what is more important, getting your message and your product out there, or losing out on potential sales because someone else has priorities other than proper spelling?

    For the record, it drives me INSANE when retailers make this mistake. I've seen it in bookstores (national chains) and online -- plenty of Etsy sellers purport to sell "stationary". But if they sell "stationery" and have a common spelling mistake used as one of the very minor tags (not in the description), who does it hurt?

    I see it as similar to accounting for American vs. Other English-speaking Countries' spellings. If you were selling an airplane image on one of your postcards, it's good marketing sense to use "aeroplane" as a tag. Same with "fairy" vs. "faerie". Jewelry vs. Jewellery. Etc.

    Use the tag. It's not selling out, it's covering all your bases.

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  16. Carrie, you are a wise woman and you make a powerfully logical argument.

    I myself do searches for "vintage stationary" on ebay because of how many are incorrectly listed... I would miss good stuff if I didn't do that search.

    Argh. I think Eileen and Carrie have swayed me.

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  17. I agree with Carrie and came to the same conclusion when I started selling stationery on Etsy. When I used both tags (stationery and stationary), my views really increased! It's sad, but more people search for "stationary" than for "stationery". My stats have always proved this. At first I wasn't comfortable with the idea, but now I'm OK with it. The important thing is that *I* know how to spell it correctly! ;)

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  18. this video made me think of this post...something to think about...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

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  19. Very interesting video, David. What an incredible piece!

    Food for thought, indeed, and full of some good ideas. I do take issue with the author/animator's assumption that anyone who quibbles over precision and "correct" language usage is not creative enough to write her own interesting prose, but just picks the nits of others instead... or that having a pet peeve about one aspect of language automatically means one is a curmudgeon about change. There a lot of assumptions here, and the piece strikes me as rather condescending ("I used to think that way, but now I know better") in some ways, but I thank you for the link.

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