Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Set in Stone

Over the years, we've seen a variety of lowercase L mishaps — mostly handwritten, some minor typographical lowercase L errors, and even a few doozies with more permanent ramifications. But this one, discovered by fellow Blogger Christian, is about as permanent and humiliating as you can get when it comes to poor lowercase L judgement.

Photographed above is a memorial to physicist Harry K. Daghlian, Jr., a physicist whose bad luck apparently didn't end when, in 1945, he became the first person killed in a critical mass experiment while developing atomic bombs at the government's secret lab in Los Alamos, N.M. In what might be the worst case of lowercase L abuse to date, Daghlian's native New London, Connecticut memorialized him with this monument, HARRY K. DAGHlIAN JR, boldly chiseled in stone.

Thankfully this is a memorial and not his actual gravestone. Otherwise I have a feeling Harry would be turning over.

Update 3/5/08: I've tried coming up with a logical explanation for this incredible example of lowercase L misuse. The most likely scenario I can think of is that the engraver was given a handwritten note on paper, with Daghlian's name already bastardized as DAGHlIAN. The engraver probably just chiseled away at the marble accordingly, figuring the author of the epitaph knew better than he. I can just imagine the conversation after the stone memorial was delivered.

"Who is Daghiian? You need to change it to DAGHLIAN!"

"Sorry, that's what you wrote on the form. There's no way to squeeze in the uppercase L now. We'd need to carve an entirely new piece. It'll cost ya'".

"We don't have the budget to buy another! I guess this one will have to do. People will know it's an L, right?"

"Sure, whatever helps you sleep at night, mister."
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