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The Accidental Discovery Of Upper Case Schwa

Snorkel Chute Curbside Mailbox

I think that guy in the background is a spy (Image by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr)

On Friday, I swung through the lot of the local post office to drop something in the mail. That’s the sort of extravagant thing I do. I will spend forty-four cents to have someone bring something to someone else. I think the recipients are impressed by the gesture.

As I was driving out from making my grand gesture, I passed a white pick up truck. The owner had put lettering across the front to spell out the word MOVE in upper case letters. The word was spelled backward so as to be easily readable in the rear view mirror of cars in front of the truck.

Aggressive Jerks…

Now we all know what this person’s plan was in putting this lettering across the front of their truck. It was done with the express intent of driving up close behind people and pushing them to drive at a pace they’re not comfortable with, or move aside. Very classy.

Some people charge through life as if they have to get where they’re going first. I’ve never quite figured out the benefit of being that way. As best I can tell, nothing really starts until the rest of us arrive. What’s their hurry?

No one who drives aggressively has ever convinced me of anything, except that most states will issue a driver’s license to a fool.

…Still Need To Proofread

When I saw the truck with MOVE on the front, I just glanced at it and didn’t pay it a lot of attention. My mind turned the letters around and told me the word the driver had put on their truck.

Then, it happened. I looked in the rear view mirror. The white truck was behind me and I could see the lettering on the front. This mirror view reversed the letters as intended. Here is a photo I took of what I saw. I hope you can appreciate the complexity of this shot – in the mirror, past my head, using my not-that-smart phone.

Yes, I blocked the person's head out even though they don't deserve it. (image courtesy of me, copyright me MMXI)

I know that you probably can’t see it yet. That photo was really just a lame attempt to appear in my own blog like Hitchcock did in his movies. Now, through the wonder of technology, let’s zoom in on the word in question.

So, what are you trying to say? (image courtesy of me, copyright me, MMXI)

Read it carefully…M…O…V…backward E? Let’s see, what would those crazy kids say about this? I think they would say FAIL. They would say EPIC FAIL. They might even say PWNED, even though I still don’t get why it ever became cool to spell it that way.

Some time ago, I proposed a business where intelligent people like you would proofread things for the less bright among us. Here, my friends, is an example of our customer base. Left to their own devices, this person has delivered the message “I am just smart enough to come up with a way to prove I am not smart without even talking to you.”

The Discovery

On examining this picture I realize that this person may have inadvertently made a contribution to grammatical science.

Yo, I've got your schwa right here. (image via wikimedia)

Think back to your early school days. Remember the schwa? Schwa was a pronunciation character that was always depicted by a backward, upside-down, lower case e. I’ve long wondered about the existence of the upper case schwa. None of my teachers could ever show me one, but I remained convinced there had to be one. If there is a lower case character, there must be an upper case one to match.

Last Friday, I believe I saw the first ever use of upper case schwa. Capital E, upside down and backward. There it is, right before your eyes. Gaze upon it. None of your English teachers could show you that. You saw it here first, and you saw it courtesy of someone who thought they were cool but failed to proofread.

I really do need to get to work on my business plan for the proofreading shop.

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51 Comments on “The Accidental Discovery Of Upper Case Schwa”

  1. anne says:

    I love it when morons out themselves!

  2. Katybeth says:

    My business is named Camp Run-A-Pup. Someone else (after I had been in business about 5 years and never noticed) pointed out the initials spelled crap.Ok. it worked for the business I am in-sort of but it was not intentional. I would be a proof read-ie not a proof reader.
    Never knew about the schwa or maybe I did and forgot…very interesting. Congratulations for perhaps being one of the few to spot to an uppercase schwa.
    BTW–was anyone mailing any chickens at the post office?

  3. The complexities of your photo are way too difficult for me to grasp, especially on a Monday morning…I have virtually no spatial skills…photographing things in a mirror is an excellent way to confuse me!

    However, assuming the impatient jerk in the truck applied his “E” backwards, that would just be karma in my book!

    Wendy

  4. writerdood says:

    An Schwa always makes me want to say, “Schwaaat?”

    At first I thought you were blanking the guy out because he was offering you a one finger salute.

    • omawarisan says:

      I have to admit, I’m not completely sure what to do with schwa anymore. Also, I can’t diagram a sentence.

      Actually, I think the driver was not the owner of the truck. The person who was driving was very much the opposite of an aggressive driver.

  5. madtante says:

    This is too awesome. I love it when assholes look even more assholey.
    -except when it’s me but then again, it’s still funny

  6. Pie says:

    I know nothing about a schwa, but I know a twat when I see one. Thank you for bringing this one to our attention.

    By the way, have you changed your theme again? All the stuff you used to have on the right hand side is missing. Or maybe my Firefox browser has hit a glitch today.

    • omawarisan says:

      No, I’m realizing that all that stuff is on my main page but not on the individual pages in this theme I’m trying. The switch back may be happening shortly because of that.

  7. planetross says:

    I’m not sure if that E was upside down, but I can’t be sure if it was rightside up either. In fact, it could just be a badly drawn F.
    The rearview mirror shot is a tricky one: it leaves one with a great photo or in the ditch.

  8. Brooke says:

    Very funny! I wonder if they even checked it to make sure it was right. I would have had my mirror out there with me. But then again, I’m not one to stick stuff all over my car… it would make selling it even harder.

    • omawarisan says:

      See, the reselling it thing is something that I’d think about too.

      But if youre that intent on delivering a message, how do you not check that out with a mirror?

  9. shoutabyss says:

    Hilarious! And an excellent shot, by the way. I appreciate the skill it took to pull that off.

    He must be one of those people who puts way too much money, time and effort into pimping his ride. Personally I’ve never understood that. I put as little into my wheels as humanly possible. It is strictly a means to an end, namely getting from Point A to Point B and back again.

    By the way, curious about the word “move” I looked it up in my dictionary. One of the definitions, I keed you not, is this:

    [ trans. ] empty (one’s bowels).
    [ intrans. ] (of the bowels) be emptied.

    I think you should have took him up on the invitation.

  10. Zahara says:

    “As best I can tell, nothing really starts until the rest of us arrive.”
    Some form of this would make a good bumper sticker. Or maybe I’ll paint it backwards on my grill.

  11. Todd Pack says:

    I think we might all be jumping to conclusions. The driver of the pickup might be a jerk who’s trying to tell people, in his own dyslexic way, that they should move out of his way, but it’s also possible the driver is a geek who’s wearing his heart on his sleeve (or hood, as the case may be). I Googled it, and it turns out that Evom is a program grabbing and converting videos. So, this guy might be a jerk, or he might work in IT. Really, it’s hard to say. 🙂

  12. Thypolar says:

    These are the things that I find entertaining. You found a real gem there ;). My hubby is in desperate need of your proofreading shop. I’m sick of being the editor!

  13. The Hipster says:

    Wasn’t that the backwards (and upside down) upper case schwa in those eye charts in elementary school? Or did they just use those in the heathen schools I attended? http://tinyurl.com/45l27ky I swear to you that’s what I used to think. You had to put your hand in the direction that it was pointing, I suppose for those who didn’t know their letters yet. I would never have survived Catholic school.

    • omawarisan says:

      Oh i have to try that on my next eye test…left…up…down…schwa. My optometrist has no sense of humor, which means, of course that I have to keep trying.

      Mercifully, I only did 3 years of Catholic school before my family moved where there was no such thing. Nuns still scare the hell out of me. Even had to deal with them on a professional basis a few years ago and it freaked me out.

  14. Laura says:

    I think you’ve misjudged this guy. In math, the backwards uppercase E is the mathematical symbol for “there exists”, so what he’s really saying is “MOV there exists” — which is actually kind of nonsensical, but at least he’s trying to do math.

  15. “On examining this picture I realize that this person may have inadvertently made a contribution to grammatical science.”

    Sadly, I believe this is nowhere near the truth. Stupidity often can’t even inadvertently do things that cool…

  16. Jeane says:

    The ever illusive schwa…somewhat akin to Sasquatch! Might you and your photographs soon appear on myth busters?

  17. At first I thought he just got the E wrong, but he may well have gotten the M-O-V wrong too and we just can’t tell!

  18. spencercourt says:

    Oh I wish he had been behind me! I would have slowed to a crawl because he obviously needs the patience lessons I mentioned in a recent post. And when he tried to pass me, I’d have speeded up just enough to box him in.

  19. I’ve been waiting my whole life for permission to think about upper case schwa without guilt. Thank you.

  20. Jane says:

    “I am just smart enough to come up with a way to prove I am not smart without even talking to you.”

    Above is my favorite quote of all time.

    I was “Laughing out Loud” — as opposed to LOL– when I read this. Not many people even know what a SCHWA is– or how to spell it.

    Congratulations on finding the exact usage of this powerful phonetic device. You may now approach the dais.

  21. We found him Captain!! says:

    In high school I dated a girl named Ima Schwa. She was beautiful but had a dirty mouth. We broke up after she told me ” non vol dire niente”. I don’t know what that means but it didn’t sound like a nice thing to say. She later married a guy who drove a pickup with the word EVOM painted on the hood. He is serving time for tailgating. Do the words EVOM and ” non vol dire niente” mean anything to you.


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