They may not be the heroes that Ecuador needs or deserves but they sure do get pissed off when you don’t know where a comma goes.
Since January, vigilantes in Quito, Ecuador have been correcting mistakes in the city’s graffiti.
These guerillas use stencils cut from pizza boxes to add commas, question marks and, ah yes, even accent marks to imperfect street art around town.
The members of Acción Ortográfica Quito take their pseudonyms (or superhero names) from punctuation marks: Diéresis, Tilde and Coma.
Diéresis, a 30-year-old lawyer/vigilante, told The Guardian in an interview, “Grammatical errors cause stress. We only make texts comprehensible that otherwise would not send any message whatsoever.”
Diéresis was also apparently drinking a “cappuccino spiked with amaretto” at the time which, um, of course he was. This guy sounds like a character in a pornographic novel written by a middle school English teacher.
“While we are promoting the correct use of language, it is also an excuse for a bit of fun,” Diéresis said. “The idea of making a passerby smile is rewarding.”
Sure. Who doesn’t love a grammar lesson?
However, despite the seeming whimsy of this project, this trio of grammatically-correct nerds is doing something revolutionary. They have started correcting politicians’ tweets, which may seem funny and harmless but is dangerous, considering the oppressive regime of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.
“This is a hypersensitive moment in Ecuador,” Diéresis told The Guardian.
“On national television, the president has revealed the personal information of Twitter users who criticize or make fun of him. That is low, unethical and illegal and it gives you a good picture of what’s going on in this country. It also got me thinking, ‘what would they do to me?’ In situations like this you have to be creative.”
In an interview with Colors Magazine the group were adamant:
Somehow, correcting the spelling mistakes in graffiti is a way to take a vandalistic act and put some order in what’s anarchic by nature. It’s a critical act about what’s right and wrong…It’s a public service and a moral obligation.
Correcting grammar may seem cute but it’s a sharp little way of reminding Ecuadorians to question their surroundings, to keep their eyes open and correct what is wrong.
— Acción Ortográfica Q (@AccionOQ) February 13, 2015
Photos via Acción Ortográfica. You can check out the grammar vigilantes on the Twitter too.