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May 1, 2006

Dreadful phrases
Posted by Teresa at 11:05 AM * 950 comments

One does run across them in one’s reading. I’m particularly fond of phonetic near-misses.

For a while, I was adding new-found specimens to the collection in item #4, “Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language,” in Slushkiller’s list of reasons for rejection: hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, causal/casual, clamoured to his feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera; but there came to be too many of them, so now I just keep a list:

I’m loathed to do it spurn him to greater effort
have the since to come in out of the rain
steak tar-tar
passed history not with standing
kids-our-us
the illusive details
malice of forethought
pre-imminent expert
he was the hunter, and she his query
he was too forgone to hear him
fox paws

And, from the comment thread:
it’s a doggy-dog world (Maud)
their cloaks bellowed behind them (Renee)
for all intensive purposes (Tara)
Wallah! (TexAnne)
Viola! (TexAnne)
reign in one’s enthusiasm (Lizzy Lynn)
treat this client with kit gloves (Paula Helm Murray)
baited breath (Chryss)
pealing paint (Dirty Davey)
on the lamb (Deborah Roggie)
speak my peace (ksgreer)
she balled her eyes out (Mris)
the succession to the thrown (Pedantic Peasant)
two sense worth (Lloyd Burchill)
Earth fell under the alien yolk (Lisa Goldstein)
he had the patients of an angle (Lisa Goldstein)
the point is mute (Mike Jones)
to wreck havoc (Renee)
would that be exceptable? (Janet Croft)
a Flamingo dress, as worn by a Flamingo dancer (Linda Fox)
what the hay (Renee)
to hit the hey (Renee)
he brooched the subject (Emma)
she wore his broach proudly (Emma)
yay, verily (Owlmirror)
I’m siked about that test (Owlmirror)
he poured over the textbooks for hours (Robert Legault)
just desserts (Scraps)
he put his hands around her waste (Mrs. TD)
Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder (Ariella)
that medieval system of government … called Futilism (Ariella)
rabid typist (Harry Connolly)
Democracy has been running rapid in the Middle East (Fragano Ledgister)
low and behold (Writerious)
she galloped passed (Writerious)
nauseous/nauseated (Writerious)
it peaked/peeked his curiosity (Writerious)
they stood in a cue (Writerious)
“Bare with me,” said the stripper. (Writerious)
they excepted his application (Writerious)
he makes boo-koo bucks (Writerious)
I’ll have it for you toot sweet (Writerious)
don’t rein in my parade (Xopher)
this has lead to … (Xopher)
forward (as in part of a book’s frontmatter) (Kate Nepveu)
misquote spray* (Ann Rose)
broad soldiers (Ann Rose)
peachy king (Ann Rose)
the automobile’s breaks (—E)
taught muscles (Aquila)
writhing under his administrations (Myles Corcoran)
faze/phase (Jen Roth)
wreckless driving (Jen Wroth)
serendipitous/surreptitious (Miriam Beetle)
in intimate danger (Miriam Beetle)
Cleopatra memorised the Roman men (Candle)
Pompey and Crassus sited their views in public (Candle)
the first Roman sea exhibition outside the Mediterranean (Candle)
Suetonius’ Life of the Defiled Julius (Candle)
compose/comprise (Mike Ford)
he gave her organism after organism (galley slave)
Why are you her? (Vicki)
stay within earshout (Melissa Mead)
enormity/enormousness (Scraps)
fortuitous/fortunate (Scraps)
composer/compositor (TNH)
marquis candidate (Julia, quoting TBogg)
the human gnome project (ley)
straight-laced (The Grauniad)
the literary cannon (Aquila)
hair-brained (mk)
struck a cord (mk)
the judicial and penile system (Tom Recht)
cup of chino (Steve Taylor)
Straights of Hormuz (John M. Ford)
straight-jacket (John M. Ford)
Tor Nay Does (John M. Ford)
Surtsey was formed by undersea fishers (Sharon Mock)
Don’t tell Jane—shed freak. (Renee)
hammy downs (Kate)
back round (Kate)
poke-a-dotted (Kate)
prime Madonna (Kate)
one nation in a dirigible (Serge)
conscious/conscience (TNH)
dually elected (Candle)
the underlining principles (Dana)
quaffed hair (A. J. Luxton)
since time in memorial (Michael Croft)
they think they’re such a laugh ride (Kip W.)
rain of terror (Zingerella)
self-depreciating (TNH)
prehensile tissue (referring to nipples) (Sarah S)
climatic battle (NelC)
flaunted/flouted (Lori Coulson)
vice grips (Claire)
enclosed is a synapse plus three chapters… (BetsyB)
beckon call (pb)
they went out shooting peasants* (Xopher)
gantlet/gauntlet (Ledasmom)
cavalry/Calvary (Ledasmom)
discreet/discrete (Jerry Kindall)
founder/flounder (Marilee)
a right of passage (Clark E Myers)
extracting vengeance on him (TNH)
he gave a look of otter confusion (miwahni)
the body cannot with stain, what the mind does not understand (Fragano Ledgister)
take stalk of (Sara)
sewing her wild oats (Lisa Goldstein)
dragging his heals like a child (Sharon Mock)
teachers, formally enthusiastic about their subject… (Dave Luckett)
rod iron (Ulrika)
in tact (Ulrika)
last vestibules of fun and merriment (Fragano Ledgister)
it is a tenant among evangelical Christians (David Goldfarb)
Symphony in A Flat (Jasper Milvain)
gradually the spirit solidified into corporal form (Eleanor)
I had the bad luck to see this autrocity (TNH)
our hospital was in the mist of a project (Bill Burns)
a fine tooth-comb (Ajay)
mid-evil style jewelry (Maximus)
music played on queue (Maximus)
I can’t be asked to do that (UK) (Eleanor)
low-and-behold (Mary Aileen Buss)
rot iron (Glen Fisher)
thirty yacht six (Greg London)
he couldn’t believe how well she was fairing (TNH)
she was fiberglasted (Suzanne)
it doesn’t pass mustard (L.B. Lidsky)
taking the United States as a hole (Eric Nelson)
she was still milling over it (TNH)
wholistic approach (Susan)
on tenderhooks (abi)
a whole nother thing (Xopher)
I was apart of the group (rm)
the Klux Klutz Klan (rm)
pneumonic/pneumatic device (i.e., an aid to memory) (rm)
a grizzly crime (Cassandra)
it exuberates the problem (Steve Taylor)
boil a cup of rice and through in some saffron (jennie)
“I don’t like it a bit,” he grossed. (TNH)
how do we diffuse the bomb? (TNH)
stars in the fundament of our genre (Dave Langford)
it played on my mind (TNH)
democracy is running rabid in the Middle East (0qwerty0)
died-in-the-wool (yucca)
photogenic memory (avva)
he washed the ruminants of sorrow from her face (TNH)
the experience had wizened him to the ways of the world (TNH)
he was sword to protect them (A. J. Luxton)
a bellweather borough (Fragano Ledgister)
seeing her naked was a peek experience (nalo)
she’s a teatotaller (nalo)
bubble bees are not aerodynamically equipped to fly (elise)
don’t scratch it, you’ll only excoriate the problem (Joanne)
your gentile organs (elise)
pornographic memory (P J Evans)
moral/morale (P J Evans)
knit one, pearl two (Melissa Mead)
wring the changes (Lisa Goldstein)
scolding hot water (Xopher)
bearfooted Carmelites (pip)
biopsy/biography (Karen Funk Blocher)
public sediments on the issue (Xopher)
a regiment of diet and exercise (Lisa Goldstein)
people had to live on their own reconnaissance (Fragano Ledgister)
the voting ballads where unreliable and contained falsies (Fragano Ledgister)
hand’s on training (rm)
safe confinds (rm)
randomality (rm)
fender binders (rm)
a three-foot ring tale diamondback rattlesnake (P J Evans)
Seattle Odyssey is an incredulous journey… (TNH)
the Dodge of Venice (TNH)
the Republicans are a shoe-in (thank you, Raw Data)
farbeit for me to refuse… (TNH)
cast a pallor over the occasion (TNH)
malice of forethought (Dave Langford)
his necktie was slightly eschew (TNH)
muttering explicatives under his breath (TNH)
descention in the ranks (TNH)
they put out a want for his arrest (TNH)
with all the strappings of state (TNH)
surviving the eminent holocaust (dagny)
do un to others as you would have them do un to you (David King)
KU Med. Center Defends Its Brain-Dead Tests (Paula Helm Murray)
declare it a federal disaster (Fragano Ledgister)
embroidered in battle (Jing Mei)
he slashed cream across her new dress (Jing Mei)
the girl’s new outfit was electrical (Jing Mei)
he wants to ring the author’s neck (Deborah Roggie)
it’s like an Alcatraz around my neck (Scraps)
he is not aloud to say a word (Xopher)
an outer body experience (Xopher)
“succame”, past tense of “succumb” (Erik Nelson)
annunciating each word clearly (TNH)
the total annihilation of all assistance (TNH)
snuff said (Alex Halavais)
the gapping whole their departure left (TNH)
piss pour timing (TNH)
he was weekend by the loss of blood (TNH)
psycho tropical drugs (TNH)
cow towing to the powers that be (TNH)
root tail quartz (also: retaliated quartz) (TNH)
they chorused their ascent to the question (TNH)
he took a skewered view of things (TNH)
The Magesterian gives the Pope teaching authority. (TNH)
in a fracture of a second; he leaned forward a fracture of an inch (TNH)
if he ever wizened up to what you’ve been doing (TNH)
nothing in this world is real; it’s just an illustration (TNH)
the surgery was much more evasive than I expected (TNH)
at a more desecrate distance, he followed her in (TNH)
how dare they try and sensor him? (TNH)
face-to-face with the nozzle of a gun (TNH)
a none disclosure agreement (TNH)
looking a bit worse for the wearer (TNH)
standing in the face in danger (TNH)
the two of you have been playing at a crossroads (TNH)
apples to apples, dust to dust (TNH)
we could just let the robots fight the war on our behalves (TNH)
loud scream of furry (TNH)
He’s diluted if he thinks that! (TNH)
That jives with most of the commentary I’ve heard. (TNH)
quote un quote (Kyle Armbruster)
I don’t want to sound like a no-it-all, but … (TNH)
trying to illicit sympathy (TNH)
that’s mox nix (Om)
I’d dishone you (TNH)
the project whithered on the vine (TNH)
it’s just here-say (TNH)
This specimen was deposited by glaziers on the Holderness Coast. (TNH)
It is easy to caste dispersion on the FDA (TNH)
Jane Fonda: “All tolled, abstinence-only education has failed miserably.” (TNH)
I know saludvictorians in my class who cheated their way to the top. (TNH)
She lay unconscience on the floor. (TNH)
They were in the throngs of an argument. (TNH)
Barely registers a blimp on the radar (KévinT)
Wreaking haddock (Steve C.)
If you have the mullah to pay for it (TNH)
There was a black and blue striped toboggan pulled over her head. (TNH)
“Having formerly worked for the now defunked EC comics…” (TNH)
She had a fairly tail wedding. (Collected in the wild! Honest!) (TNH)
We were upset by his gregarious interference. (TNH)
It was a problem even she couldn’t phantom. (TNH)
ex-patriots (David Bratmen)
He looked down at the bludge in his pants. (TNH)
He had a bugle in his pants. (Megpie71)
The book was a first addition. (TNH)
A dog y dog world. (Dan Hoey)
He lay prostate on the ground. (Em)
Well, the peachy king did have that illicit affair with the rabid typist, but I’m afraid they’ve now been sentenced to the penile system. (Melanie S.)
This afternoon I heard a Katrina survivor say that he’d lived in FEMA trailers, tents, and “Kwanzaa huts.” (Xopher)
A full-pledged author. (Pendrift)
Listening serupticiously (Lee)
In a candidate’s bio for elective office in King County, WA: “During my teenier as Chair I increased our partnerships with Landowners within King County either privately or entity owned.” (Tom Whitmore)
George Cowley was a bonnified Scotsman. (Beth Friedman)
He was a bonified Scotsman. (Julia Hendricks)
Those who paid full price when the trend was at the pentacle of its height (TNH)
She heard them arguing in sotto voices. (TNH)
Tom Bombadil is a not-quite-explained abhorition. (TNH)
I became memorized as I watched him work. (TNH)
They were revulsed by my description of the monster. (TNH)
I love how you play with the cannon in this story. (TNH)
My black lab is ten years old and has arthuritis. (TNH)
She gave the instructions verbably. (Deb/Dyb in Nashville)
I pacifically told him not to do that. (Grewgirl in Denver)
They wanted him for breading stock. (TNH)
… tusks protruding from the jaundiced skin of his joules. (TNH)
He was wearing denim overhauls. (TNH)
There was an almost palatable sense of relief. (TNH)
Even the most common placed things. (TNH)
I have a date with a gorgeous read-head. (TNH)
Owsome jewelry clasp! (TNH)
The sensation ran like lightning through the pleasure synopses of his brain. (TNH)
A fission of something close to fear rolled through him. (TNH)
It sheered free in two blows. (TNH)
Running rim-shot over the guards. (TNH)
He peered at them, his glasses eschew on the end of his nose. (TNH)
He forwent his shower. (TNH)

What puzzles me is how many of the words and phrases are uncommon in spoken English, and thus were probably picked up from reading, where the readers would have seen the correct forms. I can only hypothesize that their ears remember better than their eyes do.

Addenda:

Glen Blankenship collects variant misunderstandings of ‘voilà’. His current collection: Wha-la, Wallah, whah-lah, ouala, walla, ouila, wa-la, Wa La, wahLah, viola, V’iola, voi là, wah-lah, walah, wah lah, and vuala.

Michael gives us “Similar-Sounding Cousins: A Comedy of Manors”

Earnest is an ex-patriot Englishman, escaping from his sorted passed in New York. Jack is his wealthy American cousin (a reel blew bloodied type, to the manner borne). When Earnest looses his job righting insincere rejection letters for TOR Books, he moves in with Jack in his stately sub urban home. Hijinks insue.

We had practically simultaneous posts from Sarah Sabine, Naomi Parkhurst, and Grant Barret, explaining that over at Language Log these are known as “eggcorns,” and that there’s a database devoted to them. I recommend it. A sampling:

trite and true, ad homonym, eurologist, scarlet teenager (a bird), lazy fare, lack toast and intolerant, from the gecko, go at it hammer and thongs, pigment of the imagination, Cadillac converter, bumpetta-bumpetta, outer body experience, whoa is me, pre-madonna, Southern brawl, fair to midland, don’t know buttkiss, a posable thumb, she got her ten-year at the university, in lame man’s terms, eggtopic pregnancy, come to not, pigment of the imagination, get one’s gander up, like a bowl in a china shop, at lagerheads, Hobbesian choice, put the cat before the horse, cut to the cheese, cyberstocking, pier-to-pier network, post-pardon depression, nip in the butt, by enlarge, and what in the sand hill were you thinking?

Finally, GLD gave us an unnerving specimen collected in the wild (i.e., a church bulletin):
[A]s the priest preyed over the elements on the alter, they were altared into the real presents of the devine.

And a further addendum: The reason the main list ends with a long string of examples credited to me is that I’ve continued to add new specimens I’ve collected in the wild. —TNH
Comments on Dreadful phrases:
#1 ::: Aaron Bergman ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Or it could just be homonym replacement when typing. I know I'm very prone to it.

#2 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:05 PM:

he was the hunter, and she his query

ROTFLMAO!

This gives a whole new imagery to query letters.

Woot!

#3 ::: Maud ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:14 PM:

One of my former law school professors recalled a student handing in an essay test answer that included the line, "It's a Doggy-Dog world."

The professor didn't count this observation against the student, though. "After all," she said, "it *is* a Doggy-Dog world."

Then she sighed and took another sip of her drink.

#4 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:17 PM:

From one of my fellow members of the local writing group:

"Their cloaks bellowed behind them."

Given a strong enough wind, that might happen....

#5 ::: Tara ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:26 PM:

At the top of my list is the ever-popular:

"for all intensive purposes"

#6 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:29 PM:

"Wallah!" in tones of triumph. Or "Viola," ditto. This led to my current favorite, "VYE-OH-LAH!" But she'd just finished her first sock, so I forgave her.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:32 PM:

I suspect that many of these are caused by spell-checkers-gone-horribly-wrong.

#8 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:33 PM:

The phrase which always makes me wince is "very unique".

#9 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:34 PM:

(Which I realise is not a phonetic near-miss; I just had to vent.)

#10 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:41 PM:

One I have started to see more often: "reign" for "rein", as in "reign in one's enthusiasm." (I never see "rain" in the same spot, however. Interesting.)

#11 ::: Sarah Sabine ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:45 PM:

These kinds of phrases are a huge source of amusement to the linguistics & language blogging communities. They're usually called "eggcorns" - a common near-miss for "acorn". There's now a database with a short history included. Endless linguisticky fun!

#12 ::: SteveE ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Actually, I kind of like the sound of "empirical storm troopers." We could use some butt-kicking fact-checkers like them if we ever hope to expand the borders of the reality-based community.

#13 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:46 PM:

I suspect some of these (passed history not with standing, the illusive details) fall into the category of what the folks over at Language Log call "eggcorns". You might enjoy the Eggcorn Database.

#14 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:47 PM:

Sorry! Forgot to check if someone else had posted the same thing while I was typing mine up.

#15 ::: Grant Barrett ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Some of these qualify as eggcorns. That database is a think of beauty.

(spelling intended!)

#16 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:49 PM:

Can I put in a vote for "forward," used as a heading for the bit in the front of a book? Published books, by major presses?

Gah.

#17 ::: Grant Barrett ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:49 PM:

Dern, me too, Naomi.

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:50 PM:

"Who told you you're allowed to rein in my parade?"

This actually led to a pretty good pun when Diana Ross's concert in Central Park was rained out. She told everybody she was going to have to stop, and to please leave the park in an orderly fashion, but she kept singing while they did. Getting soaked the while. The Post, which I normally hate, headlined the story as "Diana Rains Supreme." Now that's just brilliant.

I'm driven crazy by the little common ones, like "This has lead to..."

#19 ::: John Klima ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:52 PM:

I so want someone to write me a story titled:

"he was the hunter, and she his query"

It makes me giggle every time I read it.

JK

#20 ::: Ilona ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:53 PM:

When I just started out, I made few of those typoes. The more I write, the more frequently I see them.

My most common is inserting "eyes" instead of "eye". I honestly cannot get rid of it. At least I'm not the only one - for awhile there the misspelling of idiot as didot was so common, didot actually became a slang word among OWW writers :)

#21 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:56 PM:

When I started where I work now, they had advice to "treat this client with kit gloves..." ARGH. It was even put into our project outlines.

And the Kansas City Star can be counted on to use the wrong homonym almost every time they use one. (hair, hare, heir; there, their; etc.). When she retired, my mother-in-law, took it upon herself to write correction letters to them. Good hobby, it isn't helping.

#22 ::: Sarah Sabine ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:58 PM:

One can never have too much support for Language Log or the Eggcorn Database! I think my favorite eggcorns are the ones that, to modern speakers, make *more* sense than the originals. While mistakes like these can be annoying, some of them make me marvel at the flexibility of our language. For example, "deep-seeded" for "deep-seated":

And in terms of the current ordinary-language meaning of the words involved, deep-seeded ignorance makes sense, while deep-seated ignorance doesnt. Ignorance can be planted deep and thus have deep metaphorical roots, but deep-seated ignorance would have to be ignorance cut with a lot of room in the crotch, or maybe ignorance sitting in a badly-designed armchair. - Mark Liberman, of Language Log

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Add 'tow the line' to the list (unless someone's pulling the rope around).

#24 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Oh, I pulled one of these my first year in college. My sin? "Baited breath."

When the mistake was pointed out to me, I wanted to die. Fortunately I got over it enough to laugh hysterically.

#25 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:10 PM:

Oh, I could give you a whole lot more:

She galloped passed his manor.
The arrival of a somnambulist peaked/peeked his curiosity.
The mummies stood in a cue.
"Bare with me," said the stripper.
"I should of brought my trebuchet," Melvin said.
"I should never have excepted his application as viceroy," Bitsy mused.

And not that I expect everyone to spell perfectly in French, but:
Vlad makes boo-koo bucks.
I'll fetch your arsenic toot-sweet.

I also get testy about the confusion between affect and effect (since I teach science, this comes up a lot), or the misuse of nauseous (which means "to induce nausea") and nauseated. So if you say, "I'm nauseous," (meaning "I induce nausea") expect me to give you a funny look and to slowly back away.

More good 'uns on my site here:
Self Editing

#26 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Oh, and we must not forget the ever-popular, "low and behold."

#27 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:15 PM:

"Copywritten." Although, for some reason, I hardly ever see "copywrite."

#28 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I suspect this will happen moor and moor off in as speech recognition softwear seize wider usage.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:22 PM:

James wrote: I suspect that many of these are caused by spell-checkers-gone-horribly-wrong.

Reminds me the time I wrote a response to a yearly review and my spell-checker asked about my manager's name whether it should be replaced by valuator or violator.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Oh, I don't know, Tim. There are people who write copy. Aren't they copywriters? And isn't their finished product copywritten when they're done? I mean, like, "I have that ad all designed and copywritten; now we just need the artwork."

Yes, I'm kidding.

Writerious, I'm pretty sure the boat has sailed on 'nauseous', much as I sympathize.

Chryss, I learned that one before I learned what the expression meant. I had a joke book containing the line "the cat ate cheese and waited beside the mousehole with baited breath." By the time I figured out why that was funny, I was pretty much vaccinated against that particular error.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:29 PM:

plaintiff melody

This sounds like something from Trial by Jury.

#32 ::: Dirty Davey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Reading the paper last week I saw a bit about the "pealing paint" in downtown Chapel Hill.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Fragano - Or a leitmotif from any civil-law movie.

#34 ::: Deborah Roggie ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:36 PM:

My favorite was on the evening news. The story was about a prison escape, and the graphic over the newscaster's shoulder showed bars and the phrase, "ON THE LAMB."

I kid you not.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:36 PM:

The following come from student essays:

It is incontinent to vote.

Love is something everyone indores.

The ration desires for knowledge and national eros.

Democracy has been running rapid in the Middle East over the past fifty years.

African Americans fall at the button of this category too.

Everyone wont to live comfortable.

#36 ::: Laurence Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:36 PM:

I'm fond of "web sight."

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:38 PM:

plaintiff melody - a musical by Busby Berkley...

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:40 PM:

Xopher: You're right.

Dirty Davey: The editor should have had his neck (w)rung.

#39 ::: ksgreer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:42 PM:

I still find myself typing speak my peace, despite having been corrected many times now that it's piece.

Then again, I have family in Mississippi; no matter how much I get told otherwise, my fingers automatically type it mischevious — because there IS an extra vowel in there if you were raised on the Gulf Coast. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

#40 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:47 PM:

The one that makes me shriek is when people proclaim that they balled their eyes out. That's not an image I wanted, whether it's with a melon-baller or in a more off-color sense. "My grandfather died, and I balled my eyes out." Well, we each deal with grief in personal ways, I suppose....

#41 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:50 PM:

Similar-Sounding Cousins: A Comedy of Manors

Earnest is an ex-patriot Englishman, escaping from his sorted passed in New York. Jack is his wealthy American cousin (a reel blew bloodied type, to the manner bourne). When Earnest looses his job righting insincere rejection letters for TOR Books, he moves in with Jack in his stately sub urban home.

Hijinks insue.

#42 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 01:51 PM:

I teach senior English in High School, the usual BritLit assortment, but with a focus on tying it all together with the history and sociology of the time. While it is shocking the number of these "near-misses" that show up, I'm convinced that, as James D. Macdonald mentioned at the beginning, these are spell-check related.

Unfortunately, I feel it's not "gone wrong" but "gone away". The prevailing attitude among my students (especially coming in) is that it doesn't matter, 'cause spell check fixes everything. So none of them even try to remember.

What I have found particularly horrifying in papers all through this year is the substitution of "thrown" for "throne". As in, "Hamlet reflects the uncertainty about the succession to the thrown." Or "The Victorian era is named after Queen Victoria, who sat on the thrown throughout this period."

These give a whole new perspective to the old "I trust him about as far as I can throw him", but are not words I'd have expected 'easily confused'.

#43 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:03 PM:

I'll just add my two sense worth.

#44 ::: Charity ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Frequent reader, new poster here... and I can't quite belive I'm piping up to disagree with JMD and other honored regulars here, but I just don't see how these can be spellcheck mistakes. If you choose the wrong homonym, it's still a valid word... thrown/throne, shuttered/shuddered, etc. The ony way the spellchecker can be blamed is if the author had a near-miss typo for the wrong word in the first place. (The one exception is prostate/prostrate; the former is mysteriously absent from most software dictionaries.)

It's neat for me to see you professional writerly-type-people enjoying these eggcorns (and thanks! I hadn't known of that site either), because from my POV as a complete amateur, they're really wince-worthy. I read a lot of fanfiction (hey, it's free) and homonym abuse is everywhere, even in stories that are otherwise pretty good. I've tried puzzling out the reason, but I think Theresa has the likeliest idea... those of us who grew up with arual saturation from TV/radio just remember sounds with more clarity than words. I know I find that snippets of songs can bring up memories just as powerfully as certain smells.

#45 ::: L. Pullers ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:18 PM:

'Eggcorns' is a new one on me.

Aren't these also malapropisms?

#46 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:19 PM:

I see these while proofreading all the time. My favorite so far is "Earth fell under the alien yolk" -- well, no, not unless the aliens are birds, as I wrote in the margin. Second favorite -- "He had the patients of an angle" -- though this had to be the result of too much reliance on spellcheckers.

#47 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:22 PM:

And what's with "because" spelled "becuase"? I've even encountered in professional publications! Why doesn't spell check pick up that one? Or does it and people override it?
(yes, pet peeve; for some reason it grates on my nerves!)

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Spellcheck only knows if it's a real word. It can't tell which one was intended if there are multiple possibilities. If the user doesn't know which one is correct, they'll probably pick the first one (or the one they think is right), even if it turns out later to be wrong.

#49 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:31 PM:

I still find myself typing speak my peace, despite having been corrected many times now that it's piece.

Well, this gets into another kind of confusion with English usage, but could that be influenced by the fact that you "hold your peace" when you've decided not to "speak your piece"?

#50 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:31 PM:

The "reign" for "rein" one drives me up a tree.

Another one I see all the time that makes me want to kill things is "diety". As in, "Artemis is the diety of the hunt."

THAT'S NOT EVEN A WORD, GENIUS. *sporksporkspork*

#51 ::: Nikki ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:35 PM:

First off, I love Making Light. Thank you!

This is from the U.K. Guardian paper this morning:

Imagine how many more copies Jane Eyre might have sold in its first run if Bront's publishers had run a campaign featuring a smouldering Jane and Rochester and a burning Thornfield.

The Guardian, Monday 1st May

It's not really a dreadful phrase (homonym/spellcheck mistake) like the others posted, but I really liked the idea of Thornfield actually setting Jane and Rochester on fire.

#52 ::: Mike Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:37 PM:

One from spoken Engish that drives me up the wall is "the point is mute"; the CEO of a company I used to work for said that regularly. I don't think I've ever seen it in print, though.

#53 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:38 PM:

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned the ever-popular 'to wreck havok'.

Incidently, I blame this on people hearing the phrase, but not reading it often enough to get the correct spelling implanted in their memory. So, when they pop up with it, they pick the spelling they think is most right.

And ditto for the reign/rein transpositions. I still boggle whenever I see a phrase like 'He took the reigns of the situation'.

#55 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:46 PM:

Harry -- yes, I remember a librarian who applied for a job with a line on his resume about his Lexus/Nexus skills. But he got the job anyway, which still rankles me.

#56 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Oh, and here's a new one I got in an email today -- from a grad student, no less:

"I'll try an see if I can start later. Would that be exceptable or not?"

And this is someone we are allowing to work as a teaching assistant? The mind reals!

#57 ::: Linda Fox ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:55 PM:

I'm a Sims 2 Addict (not in recovery). Today I came on custom skin called a Flamingo Dress. As, it is further explained, worn by a Flamingo dancer.

#58 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:55 PM:

And a couple more...

'What the hay' and 'to hit the hey'.

Okay, they're colloquial, but still.

#59 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Amusingly enough, "flamingo" and "flamenco" derive from the same source: the dazzling outfits worn by Flemish soldiers in Spain's armies.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:06 PM:

Yeah, but they're completely different English words. The same can be said of 'rape' and 'rapture'—both come from a root meaning 'carry off'. I maintain, however, that I'm quite willing to drive a man to rapture, but not to rape!

#61 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Janet, apologies for my profession. Lexus-Nexus???? I presume some sort of law librarian?aaaieeeee!
And how about "broach" and "brooch"? I once had the un-luck to come across "he brooched the subject gingerly." AND "she wore his broach proudly." I know in technical terms "broach" is considered a variation of "brooch" but, since I had always encountered either as the verb or with the meaning "chisel" it gave me a bad feeling about her dress sense!

#62 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:17 PM:

Spelling peeves: I've noticed that all too often, "yay" is used where "yea" ought to be. And speaking of not even being a word, "sike!" seems to be the common spelling of "psych!".

I was going to post about eggcorns, but I see that several zillion already have. So instead, I will point to the book of the Anguish Languish

#63 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:20 PM:

I'm guilty of more of these than I'm willing to admit. Just last week, I was caught with "peak their interest." To say that I'm embarrassed by my spelling is an understatement. I keep a dictionary around and check it often. (Im a big fan of dictionary.com.) In spite of that precaution, too many mistakes slip through.

I could blame a number of different bad influences, but Ill just say its my fault now. I need to take responsibility and work to improve my writing.

This post is a good example of why I read this blog. I dont feel as though Im smart enough or experienced enough to be posting here, but I know that if I hang around I will learn something and, I hope, improve myself.

#64 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:21 PM:

Teresa: This brings back those halcyon days (which I'm tempted to call Halcion days) when mystery novelist Nancy Atherton used to freelance for us and I'd get a call from the receptionist: "I have Nancy African on the line."

L. Pullers: Now that's a malapropism; some eggcorns would qualify, some would not. A lot are just mistakes involving homonyms. A malapropism involves a words that is similar in sound, but different, like "professional" and 'professorial."

Of course I see this sort of thing all day long, but I can't recall a lot of good ones right this minute. There are a bunch of homonyms such as leach/leech and sheer/shear that even good writers have trouble with.

Oh yeah--I do see:

He poured over the textbooks for hours.

all the time.

#65 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:21 PM:

One of the most frequent mistakes: "just desserts".

#66 ::: Mrs. TD ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:22 PM:

From an short story read online:

"He put her hands around her waste."

Um, eww?

#67 ::: Ariella ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:29 PM:

While marking this week's crop of exams I discovered that one student had written about World War One vets suffering from Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder.

A TA for a history course on Western Civilization found an even better one: "The medieval system of government was considered pointless and ineffective. That is why it was called futilism."

#68 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:33 PM:

As I become tired, I become dangerously prone to homonym typos, and even more embarrassingly, near-but-not-quite homonyms. Such as transposing "are" for "hour" and other similar abuses. It is as though my hands are taking dictation from my brain, but after a certain point they cease paying attention to the context of what is being written, and instead type out rough approximations of what they think they heard my brain say. It is very odd - my brain very clearly knows which word I intend to use, but something gets very broken in the process of nervous system transliteration. I have to stop and look at my hands as though they are completely mad. I occasionally fear am suffering from some kind of a Strangelovian disorder and my hands are going to one day run away with my text altogether.

#69 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:35 PM:

Emma-- Nope, just a garden-variety librarian. The other members of the search committee somehow didn't think it was too alarming that a librarian couldn't spell the name of a database he said he'd learned to use. Personally, I hold members of my notoriously nit-picky profession to pretty high standards and feel they have even less excuse than other people for typos on their resumes. And catalogers even more so!

#70 ::: Relly ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:49 PM:

I've heard somewhere - and I can't believe I don't have a link for it, but I'm firing up Google and trying to find the right search terms - that memory as it relates to spelling is more linked to sound than to sight. So I would say these have less to do with spellcheckers and more to do with hazy recall.

#71 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:50 PM:

Here's a pet peeve I've nursed for years. In the 70s/80s CBC radio news announcers started pronouncing "junta" with a j as in James. I complained. They explained to me that this was a new corporate policy as Canadians weren't familiar with Spanish pronunciation and to say it correctly would be much too confusing for us to cope with.

I suppose it prevented spelling mistakes, but I still twitch when I think about it.

#72 ::: Kayjay ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:04 PM:

"I have Nancy African on the line."

Coulda been the spider calling.

#73 ::: Ann Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:08 PM:

This discussion *almost* makes me miss teaching undergraduates, from whom I received the following in essays:
misquote spray
broad soldiers
peachy king

The one mistake which most rankles me is defiantly/definitely. I would issue a blanket condemnation of the use of "definitely" as a wek intensifier at the start of every semester -- it never seemed to help.

#74 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:10 PM:

enjay: As someone who speaks Spanish well, I'm not fond of that pronunciation either, but it is acceptable per Web. 11. I console myself with the thought that it did inspire the great song by the Monochrome Set, "The Jet-Set Junta."

#75 ::: Larry Kestenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:13 PM:

I guess if these things are set to music, they become mondegreens.

I don't find myself accidentally typing homynyms, and I avoid spell checkers. But I do have one personal howler to relate.

It doesn't make any difference in spelling, but I took it for granted that the expression "the die is cast" referred to the process of making a mold.

In the Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce wrote that the die is not cast, it is cut. For some reason missing the context of "dice", I emphatically agreed. After all, a die is USED to cast, so I assumed the original expression about casting the die had been garbled somehow.

#76 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:13 PM:

These things don't phase me at all -- I would of spelled them correctly, had I known.

:: aaarghghghhhahhh ::

Another thing that is disappearing fast is correctly formulating conditional tense -- if it were [to be].

Where I work, we are dealing with 'outsourced' copyediting, and whether it is an autochanger or a person, correct usage -- 'if it were [to be] found that ...' -- is invariably replaced with 'if it was found ...'.

#77 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:13 PM:

A book crossed my disk recently wherein the author had persistently referenced the breaks on the protagonist's car. This would have been less annoying if the CE had actually corrected it.

I once was the third person in an email chain where the first person spelled it "chord" and the second person spelled it "cored." Unfortunately, the word they wanted was "cord."

"passed history not with standing"--perhaps he just got a C-minus?

#78 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:14 PM:

A shutter went through my uncle's body once, but those are the hazards of tornado country.

#79 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Oh yes: At least one of these has more or less entered the language now: "butt naked."

#80 ::: Mike B ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Is there any psych research that could shed some light on Teresa's observation: "I can only hypothesize that their ears remember better than their eyes do"?

Because I just can't imagine making any of these mistakes. It's impossible - reading them makes my eyes hurt. Maybe that's just a matter of practice, for I've been a fanatical reader for many years. But I also wonder if it's because I don't hear words as I read them. They feel like abstract shapes to me. (I believe, from the sort of verbal slips I make, that words are filed in my head by approximate length, and by first letter - like a Scrabble dictionary. Unfortunately, even if this is true, it doesn't make me good at Scrabble, because I can't anagram worth a damn.)

If I want to hear words as I read them, I have to consciously turn the sound up in my mind. I used to avoid doing this, because the sound in my head slows me down. At some point I figured out that good writing gets a lot better if you listen to it in your head instead of just reading it, so now I read novels a bit more slowly - but with a lot more enjoyment.

I've also had to practice listening to my own writing as I type - that's a learned skill for me.

Does everyone read this way, or just some of us?

#81 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Oh, man. I really want some misquote spray.

#82 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:36 PM:

From what I have seen of manuscripts in the past few years, one of the primary jobs of a proofreader is to wipe out the symptoms of what I call Homonym Disease.

So many writers choose the wrong read/red where/wear the other belongs. No doubt you have seen this epidemic yourself. It's one that spell checkers can't prevent.

#83 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:42 PM:

Mike B: You may be treating written English as a heiroglyphic system (you remember the shapes of words, rather than merely their phonetic components). There is research to support this; it is one way of treating the most common form of dyslexia.

I do this myself. The wrong word is a physical wrench to the reading process. Certain common mistakes (teh for the, for instance) I've learned to gloss over, but most still make me wince.

I also tend to typo real words--thing for thin, for instance, or this for thin. Bah, humbug.

#84 ::: ksgreer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:42 PM:

cmk:

I think the tendency to type 'speak my peace' is possibly influenced by the confluence of 'peace of mind' and 'give you a piece of my mind'. I've taken to using 'speak my peace' as a type of written pun that, if spoken, simply wouldn't register.

#85 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:43 PM:

We watched shutter spread memetically through one fandom's fanfic, and then out into others. At one point it seemd like every second sex scene had someone shuttering. It was often associated with taught muscles.

#86 ::: Myles Corcoran ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:44 PM:

I also like "writhing under his administrations".

You are nearly responsible for my wife choking to death, luckily jello isn't too good at blocking the airway. I suppose I have to share some of the blame for my part in relaying the bellowing cloaks line.

#87 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:46 PM:

When I was a grader/TA/instructor, I counted off on papers if it was obvious that the student had not used a spell-checker. I also counted off when it was all too clear that the student had trusted the spell-checker implicitly.

#88 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:52 PM:

murgatroyd: Worse, I've seen people actually correct "faze" to "phase" as in your first sentence.

On a local news broadcast, I once saw a graphic listing charges that had been brought against someone, including "wreckless driving".

#89 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 04:59 PM:

spoken malapropisms are different, of course, but those are the ones that seem to grate on me worst.

i had a teacher in high school who always said "serendipitous" when he meant "surreptitious". & he said it more than you might imagine, too.

i was listening to a radio program about the state of mental health care in the us yesterday, & it would have been a very interesting program, except the speaker kept saying "intimate danger" when he meant "imminent danger." aaaargh. & this was a former writer for the new york times.

#90 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:00 PM:

I learned from a non-Wiki reference source that Reggie White reeked havoc on the field.

#91 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:01 PM:

During my university years, one prof specifically advised against trusting spellcheckers--he'd found a study where one group of students was given a page of text with twenty spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes and told to correct it, while another group was given the same page and allowed to use spellcheck to correct it.

The spellchecked version had half again as many mistakes in the final count, including some that were not in the original piece.

If I weren't at work, I'd google-fu a reference for this.

(guiltily ducks back under her rock)

#92 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:03 PM:

No-one seems to have mentioned one of the ones that really annoys me. Somehow, in recent years, the practice has crept in of saying (and writing) e.g. "If I would have known that, I wouldn't have bought the squid." Isn't the correct form "If I had known that..."?

It is actually all too easy in a long spell-checking job to hit the wrong option and authorise a misspelling. I've done it, and I'm about the most pedantic speller I know, though less so about other solecisms.

#93 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Because I just can't imagine making any of these mistakes. It's impossible - reading them makes my eyes hurt. Maybe that's just a matter of practice, for I've been a fanatical reader for many years. But I also wonder if it's because I don't hear words as I read them.

I always hear words when I read them, but I'm still stunned by spelling mistakes like these. I think there must be an additional component in the filing system, though, because "rein" and "reign" definitely (indeed, defiantly) occupy different parts of my brain. I tend to think it is more of a meaning thing than a visual thing, because I don't think of myself as a visual person at all. That said, I always have trouble pronouncing a name or a new, complex word until I know how it is spelled; after that, I generally have little trouble. Beats me, then.

As for student essays, most of the ones I've kept have contained sentences amusing mostly for their bathos. But there were a few of these things too:

[Caesars] invasion of England was looked upon in awe as it was the first Roman sea exhibition outside the Mediterranean

"Cleopatra ... memorised the Roman men."

"Both [Pompey and Crassus] sited their views in public..." and (from a different essay) "were dually elected".

And my favourite student citation, of Suetonius' Life of the Defiled Julius.

Those are all from the same set of exams last year.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Relly, some people spell visually, and others spell aurally. You can tell which way they spell by watching how their eyes move when they try to spell a difficult word.

People who spell visually are generally better spellers than people who spell aurally. "Sound it out," which is how I was taught spelling in grade school, is terrible advice for anyone who is trying to learn to spell English! Only when I discarded it did I become a good reader; and a good reader is (barring neurological problems I don't know about) a good speller.

The more times you see a word spelled correctly, and see the correct choice made between homophones, the more likely you are to get it right when you write...so I'd say "read, and having read, write right, and your paper will be read, but less red."

BTW I think children (as opposed to adolescents or young adults) should not be taught the word 'homonym' at all. Appallingly, it's used for both homophones AND homographs, which are entirely different things. This makes it virtually impossible to explain the situation of 'red', which is homophonous with 'read' (past), which is homographic with 'read' (present), which is homophonous with 'reed'.

Not that I believe in using 'homophone' and 'homograph' in grade or junior high school either. If your goal is to teach them Greek, sure. If your goal is to improve their spelling by getting a concept across, no. Call them 'sound-alike words' and 'look-alike words'.

Doesn't anyone have any damn SENSE any more?!?!?!

OK, end rant. This has driven me crazy for decades.

#95 ::: Mike B ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:12 PM:

I'm surprised that many of these things *aren't* caught by software. Or, rather, that Google hasn't already invented the software that would catch them.

For instance: I doubt that the word "shuttering" occurs very often in the wild. If it turns up in a paragraph it's probably a typo. Or consider "excepted his application": surely it wouldn't take a very sophisticated computer program to know that "accepted" and "excepted" are phonetic cousins, and that "accepted his application" is a common phrase while "excepted his application" is rare.

Of course, once Google gets bored making real money and decides to invent this software, a lot of pro writers will probably turn it off, lest it surround every novel turn of phrase with a swarm of dialog boxes. Terry Pratchett wouldn't be able to see his own prose for all the underlining.

#96 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:12 PM:

On the unintentional pun front, the next site I visited after Making Light just now had this in a record review:

the two sides often stay as distant as rival cliques at the high school reunion. Without a guiding principal, the dud tracks sound even weaker

I'm pretty sure that was unintentional, anyway.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:15 PM:

On a local news broadcast, I once saw a graphic listing charges that had been brought against someone, including "wreckless driving".

I'd define 'wreckless driving' as 'driving without ever totalling a car'.

"Cleopatra ... memorised the Roman men."

Well...I'm sure she tried.

#98 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:27 PM:

You may be treating written English as a heiroglyphic [sic*] system (you remember the shapes of words, rather than merely their phonetic components). There is research to support this; it is one way of treating the most common form of dyslexia.

Which is interesting, because within living memory that is how reading was taught in a great many American elementary schools -- the infamous "look-say" system, which was later denounced as the primary source of American illiteracy, phonics being touted as the Only True Way to do it. (The issue is anything but simple, and as you'd expect with something involving public ed, has political components, and I'm not trying to start a fight about it.)

Most of the examples I remember have already been cited, though not "comprise" for "compose." I would put "comprised of" in the same category as "I'm nauseous;" it's not usually an issue of the person mistaking one word for another ("compose" and "nauseated" are not particularly esoteric words) but of someone who assumes they are synonyms and is trying to sound elevated.

An invented one does come to mind,** though it's more of an in-joke, as I can't imagine the people who would use the phrase making this error:

"Speech is privilege."

You know, there's at least one F/SF story in that.

*Speaking of popular typos. . . .
**Come on, you knew I would do this.

#99 ::: galley slave ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:32 PM:

I only have one, but it's a doozy:

"He gave her organism after organism."

To which I can only say that they should have been using protection.

#100 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:37 PM:

One that threw me completely out of a story a while back: "Why are you her?"

After a moment I realized that, rather than suggesting one person turning into another, or in disguise, it was supposed to be "Why are you here?" But by then it was too late.

(I am also very tired of muscles being described as "taught"; even if spelled correctly, that's a cliche.)

#101 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:37 PM:

I'm with Xopher on "wreckless driving." How can one not be for it?

#102 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:46 PM:

I'm an auditory reader, and I make these kinds of mistakes because I spell by sound. A lot of them look like the sort of mistakes speech recognition software makes, too.

Re: when the "mistake" sounds more accurate than the real term-someone close to me says "stay within earshout."

Makes sense to me, since we don't have to fire a rifle 'cross the holler to get in touch with our neighbors.

#103 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:49 PM:

i am a visual speller, i always have been. i have a primarily visual mind, perhaps linked to the fact that i am a visual artist.

so i've always been a very good speller. if i've seen a word a couple of times, i can usually spell it. i thought it was a silly skill to have past elementary school, what with spellcheckers.... but it does make one feel smart on the internet.

#104 ::: Mike B ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:49 PM:

That said, I always have trouble pronouncing a name or a new, complex word until I know how it is spelled; after that, I generally have little trouble.

I can remember words once I've seen them written down, but I can't remember spoken words well. I have a friend who collects folk ballads, and she can learn lyrics by ear, which to me is an inexplicable magical skill. I can pick up tunes by ear, to some extent, but the words fall right out of my head. I have better luck if I translate the spoken words into typewritten text on an imaginary piece of paper in my head - but that's so slow and mentally taxing that I usually prefer just to forget.

A side effect of remembering words as they appear on a page: when I read a book, and then read a different edition of the same book, I am occasionally distracted because the line breaks have moved and now the book is different.

John Ford: I was taught phonics in first grade. Fortunately, although phonics seems to have made no impression on me whatsoever, my growth does not appear to have been stunted!

#105 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:50 PM:

Galley Slave: *doubles over in hysterical laughter*

Janet: a CATALOGER made that mistake? And they hired him? Ouch.

Mike and John: it's nice to know that there's something real about visual language skills. I learned to read when very young and can, by now, manage several languages well and others not-so-well. I've noticed that even at the early learning stages, I visualize the words and will pick up on those that look "wrong". I've had teachers insist I couldn't possibly know from the shape of the word alone, but I do!

It's a problem when I am dealing with Romance languages, where there are close-enough words, and I have to remind myself which language I am using.

#106 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 05:51 PM:

I make the distinctions between comprise/compose and nauseated/nauseous that Mike does, but mostly for pleasure in making the distinctions (and desire to not appear illiterate to pedants); Web 11 disputes the correctness of both distinctions.

#107 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Writerious,

A while back a friend of mine did some etymological research on the nauseated/nauseous thing and tells me that the two have swapped meaning several times over the years.

#108 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Enormity/enormousness is another one. And fortuitous/fortunate.

#109 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Mike B: "accepted his application" is a common phrase while "excepted his application" is rare

OTOH, applications and exceptions go hand in glove in my world - software.

#110 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:20 PM:
Another thing that is disappearing fast is correctly formulating conditional tense -- if it were [to be].

Where I work, we are dealing with 'outsourced' copyediting, and whether it is an autochanger or a person, correct usage -- 'if it were [to be] found that ...' -- is invariably replaced with 'if it was found ...'.


You're talking about the subjunctive mood, and part of why it's disappearing is that it's so complicated (and unnecessary) that most people who get it right do so only instinctively, and not one hundred percent of the time. For instance, the example you give is not specific enough to know whether it qualifies for the subjunctive:

if clausesthe traditional rules. According to traditional rules, you use the subjunctive to describe an occurrence that you have presupposed to be contrary to fact: if I were ten years younger, if America were still a British Colony. The verb in the main clause of these sentences must then contain the verb would or (less frequently) should: If I were ten years younger, I would consider entering the marathon. If America were still a British colony, we would all be drinking tea in the afternoon. When the situation described by the if clause is not presupposed to be false, however, that clause must contain an indicative verb. The form of verb in the main clause will depend on your intended meaning: If Hamlet was really written by Marlowe, as many have argued, then we have underestimated Marlowes genius. If Kevin was out all day, then it makes sense that he couldnt answer the phone.

Remember, just because the modal verb would appears in the main clause, this doesnt mean that the verb in the if clause must be in the subjunctive if the content of that clause is not presupposed to be false: If I was (not were) to accept their offerwhich Im still consideringI would have to start the new job on May 2. He would always call her from the office if he was (not were) going to be late for dinner.


And there's a good deal more.
#111 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:24 PM:

murgatroyd opined:

Another thing that is disappearing fast is correctly formulating conditional tense -- if it were [to be]

English is losing syntax more basic than the conditional tense: Participles are vanishing. For instance: "carry handles", "shave cream", and "bake time". And, of course, "spell checkers".

Granted, English has a history of jettisoning the "complicated" parts, but it seems we're starting to lose some of the essential bits,

#112 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:28 PM:

Granted, English has a history of jettisoning the "complicated" parts, but it seems we're starting to lose some of the essential bits,

N dbt vwls wll b nxt t g.

#113 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:30 PM:

I don't recall when "was graduated from" completely disappeared, but it was a good while ago.

#114 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:32 PM:

Owlmirror: Well, the shift toward text-messagese has already started.

73, JMF

#115 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:34 PM:

found a really good one

By way of TBogg, Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist wants to be the "marquis candidate" for the Constitution Party.

Unless Tancredo runs, of course.

#116 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:40 PM:

If we're getting into mangled spelling, a local chain of flower shops regularly advertises "bokays", at least on their store marquees.

#117 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:48 PM:

Julia: If Gilchrist wants to be the 'marquis candidate' he may have to duke it out with Tancredo.

#118 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:11 PM:

candle -- "Cleopatra ... memorised the Roman men."

The first semester I was a grader, one of the students wrote: "The head of Nefertiti has long been arousing to archaeologists and art historians." Fortunately this was not in the fall, when the first grading time tended to correspond all too closely with ArmadilloCon.

#119 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:12 PM:

I'm with those who boggle at these mistakes, because they always instantly jump out at me. I don't know if I'm a visual speller or not, because the same applies to grammatical errors; an incorrect subject/verb agreement or a misplaced comma bugs me just as much, which doesn't seem to lend itself to a "shape of the word" style recognition.

Then again, I learned how to read and write the same way I learned to play the piano, which is to say I cheated. I figured both things out not by studying the rules, but by imitating what I heard or read repeatedly until they were ingrained and unbreakable sets of pattern recognition. Or something.

So, in the same way I barely remember how to read music, but can still play Mozart from muscle memory, I remember virtually nothing about the rules of phonics and grammar (subjunctive mood? Mine eyes glazeth over), yet very rarely seem to make mistakes in sentence structure.

Other than the unfortunate propensity for run-on sentences, of course.

#120 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Scraps: Yay subjunctive! It's perfectly clear to anyone who grew up using it, and was taught to use it by people who did so correctly. My mother says that if you don't have the subjunctive by the time you're five, you'll never really have it.

Murgatroyd, if by "outsourced copyediting" you mean using freelancers rather than in-house employees, I've been one of those freelancers, I've hired more of them than I can count, and they can be extraordinarily good. If yours aren't good, get better ones. They're out there.

One of the things we never did was accept offers from "copyediting firms" who proposed to have their (nameless) copyeditors work on our manuscripts. That never works. Quality control goes all to hell. As Martha Schwartz said, "If they're good enough to work on our books, they're good enough to take our copyediting test and work for us directly." Also: "We don't use anonymous copyeditors."

On general spelling theory: your real killer-bee mutant spellers remember spellings visually, and double-check them kinesthetically. Unread misspellings in their peripheral vision generate a Sense of Wrongness. Some of them report perceiving typos as literally sticking up above the surface of the page, or flashing, or being a different color from the rest of the text. On occasion they can spot typos that are going past faster than anyone can read, when they don't perceive themselves as reading the passing text. Some can orally spell out words at auctioneer speed -- see Detective DeLongpre (played by Lyle Lovett) spelling "Gudmundsdottir" in The Player. I can do it for whole phrases. Orally spelling antidisestablishmentarianism isn't harder than spelling townsfolk. It just takes longer.

I don't know how that kind of spelling ability correlates with being able to pun and rhyme. If it does, I suspect it's an inverse correlation. It took half an hour for "misquote spray" to decode for me, and I'm still stymied by "speech is privilege."

The only use I have for phonetic spelling is as a mnemonic device, and then only in a few cases, such as fuchsia: it's rude, but it works.

#121 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:14 PM:

Language is in a constant state of flux, so a lot of usages that were once considered incorrect are now so thoroughly accepted that few people even are aware they were once considered substandard. Somwhere I have a grammar book from the 1930s decrying the use of "fix" to mean "to repair." I can't think of anyone who wouldn't use that word in that way now.

"Nauseous" to mean "experiencing feelings of nausea" hasn't advanced quite that far, but I think it's almost there. When I was a boy I was taught to say "nauseated" instead of "nauseous," and to reserve the latter to mean "inspiring nausea" ("A nauseous odor issued from the slaughterhouse.") Now, I know more than one person who says, "It made me nauseous," and I often don't bother to correct such usage when I'm editing fiction (depends on context).

Somehow in all this talk of eggcorns and malapropisms, I am also reminded of the list that Ellie Lang used to have of titles of books that customers had requested at some bookstore or other. I've forgotten a lot of them, but the two that stood out were those great classics of African American literature, Color Me Purple and The Autobiography of Malcolm the Tenth.

#122 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:17 PM:

Robert: I remember Clan of the Care Bears and Women Who Love Men Who Hate Women Who Deserve It.

#123 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:26 PM:

They're all of the "a moment's thought" variety (as in "a moment's thought would indicate that's wrong). Those are the mistakes which people really shouldn't make.

But I have to disagree slightly with Teresa - how common they are in spoken English depends who you're speaking with, I think. There aren't any on that list which I'd be particularly surprised to have come up in conversation with friends, in one way or another.

(But then, we have some strange conversations at times.)

#124 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:30 PM:

learn something every day... I thought the proper term was "baited breath" (Oh, come on, like you always knew what all the proper phrases were...) and come to find out here that it's "bated breath" and "bate" is a contraction for "abated" and that the only place the contraction is used is in the phrase "bated breath".

I still can't get what "misquote spray" is supposed to be...

#125 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:30 PM:

And then there's the ever-popular "hypocracy", evidently a form of government in which the populace are ruled by the lowest dregs of society. (Actually....)

#126 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:31 PM:

Nobody's mentioned "poured over," but I ghost-wrote a "forward" to a book, so it's always something.

#127 ::: ley ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:34 PM:

years ago, in a student's paper: an off-hand mention of the human gnome project...

#128 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Someone needs to sponsor a contest for a short story under 300 words with the most eggcorns possible that still manages to tell a story.

#129 ::: ley ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:36 PM:

[blushing] offhand, that is.

#130 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:38 PM:

Mike B: you are not the only one to have to consciously turn up the sound in your head if you want to hear the text you're reading. This has been my lot for most of my life. Which is odd, because as far as anyone can guess, I learned to read from the phonics taught on "Sesame Street." Nobody's actually sure, since I was two or perhaps a little younger when I insisted that I didn't have to get down off the hood of my aunt's car because I was reading the inspection sticker, and, when challenged on this, rattled off "State of New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles."

The only times when I hear the words in my head rather than assimilating them soundlessly are when there's a strong regional idiom. I always heard the British accents in Douglas Adams.

Did this quirk give you the same trouble reading aloud as I had? I could never make my voice go as fast as the words were coming into my head.

#131 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:43 PM:

"Misquote spray": I'm guessing that it's to kill those flying insects that suck blood and spread malaria: mis-quo-tes.

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Ad homonym is the logical fallacy you get when you deride someone by punning on their name.

And a tenement of faith is an argument based on faulty premises.

#133 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 07:47 PM:

Oh, crap. Mosquito spray.
I kept parsing variations of "misquoting" someone and assumed "spray" was wrong. wow.
this is definitely not my thing.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:00 PM:

My favourite, back when I was a fledging teaching assistant, informed me that 'The Chilean Christian Democratic Party was originally called the Fraganistas.' I resisted, barely, the urge to write 'They have betrayed everything for which I ever stood.'

#135 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:00 PM:

Some of those mistakes make very vivid images of a The Phantom Tollbooth variety. Except, instead of just playing with idiom, it's playing with butchered idiom. Sometimes Terry Pratchett goes for things like this, but he's also a (criminal) genius, so maybe that sort of work should be left in his culpable hands.

The Bellowing Cloak.
Yolk of Alien rulership.
Baited breath.
The pre-imminent experts.

Of course, "a doggy-dog world" is not a word selection mistake, it's a spelling mistake. "A Doggy-dogg world" was generated by rapper Snoop Doggy-dogg, intentionally.

#136 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:08 PM:

TexAnne writes:
"Wallah!" in tones of triumph. Or "Viola," ditto. This led to my current favorite, "VYE-OH-LAH!" But she'd just finished her first sock, so I forgave her.

Long ago, in a Christmas card, someone wrote my parents in those tones of triumph, exclaiming "Viola! (as we say in Peoria.)" This amused my father inordinately.

Ever afterward, when a Higgins triumphed, or when a string quartet was spotted, the cry was heard.

"Viola (as we say in Peoria)!"

#137 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:13 PM:

Today (or yesterday in fact) there was an article on this very subject in the Guardian:

If you believe the internet is the fount of all wisdom, giving free rein to bloggers to exercise their vocal cords, think again. Ancient English cliches and expressions are being mangled by the culture of cut and paste and the spread of unchecked writing on the internet.

According to the Oxford English Corpus, a database of a billion words, dozens of traditional phrases are now more commonly misspelled than rendered correctly in written English.

"Straight-laced" is used 66% of the time even though it should be written "strait-laced", according to lexicographers working for Oxford Dictionaries, who record the way English is spoken and written by monitoring books, television, radio and newspapers and, increasingly, websites and blogs.

"Just desserts" is used 58% of the time instead of the correct spelling, "just deserts" (desert is a variation of deserve), while 59% of all written examples of the phrase in the Corpus call it a "font of knowledge or wisdom" when it should be "fount".

It has become so widely used that the wrong version is now included in Oxford dictionaries alongside the right one.

#138 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:33 PM:

"Just desserts" is used 58% of the time instead of the correct spelling, "just deserts" (desert is a variation of deserve), while 59% of all written examples of the phrase in the Corpus call it a "font of knowledge or wisdom" when it should be "fount".

Interestingly, both of these mistakes don't bother me the way a lot of the other ones do, because the words themselves still imply a meaningful symbol or metaphor, even if they're more... bizarre than their original forms. (Once upon time, religion and wisdom were nearby on semantic webs, and you don't get dessert until you've earned it.) Also, I didn't even know "Just deserts," which just goes to show you that the internet is a fount of information.

Similarly, "toe the line" v. "tow the line" both mean something even if they mean different things.

#139 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:37 PM:

I thought 'Ad homonym' was the name for attacking tagging for having lexical ambiguity, when opposed to controlled vocabulary keyword assignment. Flickr disambiguates by co-occurrence of other words which is fun.

On the 'look-say' vs 'phonics' battle, both are wrong, in that they are based on flawed cognitive theory.
Look-say falsely applies an analogy to how oral language acquisition works, and on how mature readers see words as a whole, effectively requiring beginning readers to re-derive all orthography themselves.
Phonics teaches post-hoc spelling 'rules' as predicates, which is equally inappropriate for children, as resolving predicate logic is hard enough in math, let alone when misapplied to spelling.

What works is teaching phonological awareness - that sounds are primary, and letters are representations of them, and that there are multiple 'sound pictures' for each phoneme in english. Then resolving homophones can be done by memory.
As this fits well with how the brain represents language, it can be taught relatively rapidly (Rosie, my wife, gets children from stumbling incoherence to fluent reading in 12-16 1-hour sessions using this method, called Phono-Graphix).

Sesame Street is perniciously bad, as it teaches chanting letter names rather than sounds. Between the Lions is a lot better.

#140 ::: Benja Fallenstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:45 PM:

Xopher, don't you now that the paste tenth of "to copywrite" is "copywritted?"

This is be cause the product, off a copywriter's work is the copywrit.

You use a copywrit in caught too proof that the defendent has no write to copy your copy (the low says they must rite there one copy).

#141 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:48 PM:

Any common one, courtesy of another thread: cannon for canon. Oddly fannon does not seem so common.

#142 ::: Chris Waigl ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Wow! Thanks for citing the Eggcorn Database -- I'll update a few entries with your finds as soon as possible. (Oh, and I am an irregular but faithful reader...)

#143 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:53 PM:

(My favorite entry on Ellie Lang's list was One Hundred Years of Solid Food.)

#144 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 08:59 PM:

Teresa: You have "by enlarge" in your last twice.

--Your friendly neighborhood copy editor

#145 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:02 PM:

I frequent a forum where I have to stop myself from replying to topics with "by the way...it's chord, not cord."

strike/struck a cord
hair-brained

#146 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:03 PM:

The way I learned nauseous vs. nauseated was to remember the correct usage of poisonous vs. poisoned. If you'd swallowed a dose of strychnine, you wouldn't say, "I'm poisonous," but rather, "I've been poisoned." Hence "I'm nauseated" rather than "I'm nauseous." But I don't go around correcting people. I just mentally point and laugh at those who describe themselves as "nauseous." "Yes, by Jove, you are!"

And here's another choice gem from a student paper: "Animals often behave according to instinked..." (not a common misusage to be sure, but it made me laugh).

#147 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:08 PM:

And oh, yes, MK, I can't tell you how many student papers I've read that talk about "vocal chords," "the spinal chord," and various other "chords" in the human body. At least in science they have some excuse, for having run across words like "chitin" (pronounced kite-in), they may get the impression that the "ch" is supposed to be there. Or perhaps it's a decorative feature, like the "e" that they persist in putting on the end of "tomato."

#148 ::: Tom Recht ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:18 PM:

As a fresh T.A. (at an Ivy League school, too!) I see so many of these as to have become immune to all but the most flamboyant. E.g.:

"This paper will compare the judicial and penile system of post-apartheid South Africa with the judicial and penile system of the present-day United States, with reference to black men."

That one moment made several hours of grading worthwhile.

Putting my Shylurk mask back on-
Tom

#149 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:21 PM:

Writerious, in science they may also have run into chordata, which may have persuaded them that other biological terms should have "ch" as well.

#150 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:25 PM:

Seen on the menu board at a cheap cafe: "cup of chino"

#151 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Teresa: I want to paratypo that as "copyediting farms." (There surely must be an actual word* for Deliberate Misuse.)

And I've had too dire a day** to search the thread, but did we really miss that other minor classic of the form, "straight-jacket"? I don't remember actually seeing it, but surely there must be an instance of "Straights of Hormuz" out there. (Long ago, when the TV show being parodied was still on the air, Mad ran "The Straights of San Francisco, which was fairly inspired, by Mad standards.

I realize that Closed Captiousness is a different Department of this Office of the Inquisition, but earlier tonight the Weather Channel offered up Tor Nay Does. Doubtless these are a frequent excuse for Flatiron traffic accidents.

*Yes, I know. Let's Not Go There, though we're already in There's Central Business District.

**See previous footnote.

#152 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Thus far our gracious hostess: your real killer-bee mutant spellers remember spellings visually, and double-check them kinesthetically.

I'm one of these - on the rare occasions I hesitate over something, usually an ei/ie problem, writing both down solves it. Like you say, I spell out words at high speed - in fact, people usually have to ask me, say that again but slower? because it's easier for me that way. I don't have any conscious impression of visualizing it, but I think it must work this way - I'm reminded of Feynman's experiments with counting while distracted, and people who keep track of the count visually vs verbally (in Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman, I think). Being able to manage with one input mode and one output mode seems to help streamline things a lot, compared to doing both through the same channel. I also can't learn a word until I know how it's spelt - it's just a noise for me until I relate it to written language, then it clicks into place.

Typo-spotting, yes... the sudden intrusion of something that's Not a Word into language stands out like, er, something that stands out a lot. I perceive that kinaesthetically, though, like a bump in the road, not visually.

I don't think there is a correlation between this and punning/rhyming - I'm fond of both, if not actually good at it. (I'm told the only way to be actually good at punning is to refrain. That one, of course, comes up depressingly frequently... by now, I'm well versed in it.)

#153 ::: GLD ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 09:42 PM:

".... as the priest preyed over the elements on the alter, they were altared into the real presents of the devine." (found in a church newsletter)

#154 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Spell checking is definitely visual for me - I can almost always picture the word on a page if I need to check a spelling that (well, yes) looks wrong to me.

I don't know if it makes any difference, but I process most things that way. I test die cut mechanicals in my head too (although mental origami is much harder to do under distracting conditions, since unlike the properly-spelled word, I've probably never seen the finished product)

#155 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:36 PM:

Rikibeth: I think I've always been able to slow down well enough to read aloud without stumbling, although sometimes I have to concentrate to prevent my delivery from becoming breathlessly fast. When things are going well, I'm able to read a few words ahead of the spoken words in order to plan the phrasing a few milliseconds ahead of time. Unfortunately, when I read too quickly I also tend to skip small words, which can lead to verbal entanglements.

Teresa: "Kinesthetically" feels exactly right! When people ask me to spell a word, I am compelled to write it on a chalkboard (real or imaginary) and look at it until my stomach, or possibly the back of my neck, tells me whether the spelling is correct or not. Alas, I can't do this at warp speed, and the other superhero powers which you mention are also beyond me.

I would guess that the ability to see typos leaping out of the text, or turning colors, is a mixed blessing at best. To one with such a gift, surfing the Web must feel uncomfortably like being drunk.

#156 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:40 PM:

"To one with such a gift, surfing the Web must feel uncomfortably like being drunk."

That doesn't describe my reaction, which is more of a mild revulsion or despair, coupled with an immediate feeling that the balance of the content is untrustworthy. "If the writer can't even spell..."

#157 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:41 PM:

Pogo did a number on one of these with 'Viola Voila, Girl Insect'.

I spell words the way I ran into them - it's resulted in some British spellings that I can't shake. I hear the words when I'm thinking, but reading is more like watching movies or television: the whole sound-and-picture bit. Reading math and science texts is a lot quieter, but can be harder to understand.

#158 ::: Sharon Mock ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 10:44 PM:

Did you know that the island of Surtsey was formed by undersea fishers? It's true -- I heard it in an educational film. (Granted, I was in elementary school at the time, and hadn't come across fissure often enough to be familiar with it.)

... and the rein/reign thing is sneaky and evil even if you know better. Just sayin'.

#159 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:11 PM:

Many of these could work in an SF story. "Taught muscles" obviously benefit from some sort of hi-tech direct reflex implantation. "Bated Breath" is a brand of pheremonal lozenge. And the "throws of ecstasy" (has that been mentioned yet?) is a zero-g sexual maneuver. The "plaintiff melody" reminds me of the musical court case in the comic Starstruck.

#160 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:22 PM:

I'm confident (uh oh) that "vocal chords", in particular, is such an attractive error because string instruments, such as your vocal chords, produce chords.

#161 ::: Shawn M Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 11:41 PM:

John M. Ford -

Dire a day? He's Alan's cousin, isn't he? Part of the Marry Men? Works for Robbing Hood?

I might be wrong, of course.

#162 ::: Gesso ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Although to be fair "toot sweet" has been around since WWI (can't go 'round speaking foreign, can we?). It's part of that fine English tradition of nicking other people's vocab and mangling it beyond all recognition.

#163 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Close, but you're thinking of "Dire Dale." He's with the Morose Men, a band* that roams through Sherwood Forest robbing from hedgehogs and giving to sheep. Well, that was the idea, anyway. But it goes a long way toward explaining the name.

*Drummer, bassist, lead guitar, and 2nd-level Bard.

#164 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:01 AM:

I made the front page? EEP!

Another one from the local writer's group: "Don't tell Jane! Shed freak!"

This one annoyed a friend so much that she made a slew of LJ icons around it and passed them out hither and yon. If you see one ('Could it be... SHED FREAKS?') that's what the joke is.

Re: heiroglyphic/hieroglyphic: dagnabbit. Another one for the personal "Check this" list.

On look-say and phonics: I was taught both ways. It left me with superior reading skills, but no obvious superpowers--I don't spell like lightning, for instance.

I can, however, spot the one typo in a piece of someone else's prose, even if that prose has already had three other people spell and/or grammar check it. It's embarrassing.

#165 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:02 AM:

Hello, Chris Waigl, you also need the complete list from item #4 in Slushkiller. Not all of them are eggcorns. Take your pick.

MikeB, I'm not one of the ones who gets gaudy typo alerts. For me, it's more like there's a sesame seed lying on the desk directly under the typo, so that when I mentally run my fingers over it, I can feel a bump. That's if I'm proofreading or otherwise doing close reading.

Surfing the web is more like crossing an unswept floor in a busy concourse: you can see that there's a lot of stuff scattered around underfoot, but you do your best not to look at it.

#166 ::: Zak Jarvis ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Sharon Mock wrote "Did you know that the island of Surtsey was formed by undersea fishers? It's true -- I heard it in an educational film. (Granted, I was in elementary school at the time, and hadn't come across fissure often enough to be familiar with it.)"

The glorious thing about this is that if you transpose the spellings in the other direction, one of Terry Gilliam's films is suddenly about Goatse. Everyone loves Goatse, don't they?

#167 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Oooh! I get a lot of these from my students. College students, mind you. My favorites so far:

hammy downs
back round
poke-a-dotted
prime Madonna

#168 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:10 AM:

For some years, we had on our wall-of-fame a news item which referred to the "plaintiff noises" made by a fawn that had been hit by a car. A friend of ours suggested that the fawn was saying "I'll sue! I'll sue!"

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:10 AM:

"Irregardless of what one might think, the conclusion will be..."

Meaning that what one thinks WILL affect the conclusion?

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:14 AM:

ksgreer mentions the mangling of mischievous into mischevious... I've been told that the latter is how Mister Spock said it. So much for his mother having been a schoolteacher...

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:18 AM:

A few years ago, columnist Rob Morse at the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the Pledge of Allegiance and how, as a kid, he thought he was supposed to pronounce one nation indivisible as one nation in a dirigible.

#172 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:23 AM:

Fragano Ledgister: plaintiff melody

This sounds like something from Trial by Jury.

Could have been Cop Rock.

#173 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Will someone let me in on what "malice of forethought" is supposed to be really? I've been rolling it over in my head and the original phrase just isn't coming.

I can't imagine quaffed hair. Wouldn't it stick in the throat?

Here's another one: I heard the word "pontiff" used for "plaintiff" recently in some news article about some court case; I don't recall there was a single pope or bishop involved.

According to dictionary.com (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Ed., Houghton Mifflin) "font of knowledge" is correct usage. (4. An abundant source; a fount: She was a font of wisdom and good sense.)

Under "fount" we also find a specific size and style of type within a type family. So they appear to be interchangeable for at least two different usages.

Dunno how the two words got tied together, or whether they just started that way. (Faint sighs of OED-lust can be heard, followed by the tappings of a price-search, then a sudden, terrible silence.)

#174 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:28 AM:

Everybody please cover your trash. There's a cross-eyed bear in here somewhere. I think he's the plaintiff fawn's publicist.

#175 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:29 AM:

swing your partners, dosie dough

#176 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:32 AM:

On the 'look-say' vs 'phonics' battle, both are wrong, in that they are based on flawed cognitive theory.

I've been trying to align myself with one of them, and I can't quite do it. I get a visceral rather than a visual reaction to typos and grammatical errors, and good writing gives me a kind of physical pleasure. I also love puns and rhymes and have a good feel for verse rhythm, I think. But I wish I could do the thing my friends can do of visually rearranging the room in my head. I don't ever see *any* pictures in my head. (I don't even dream in images, that I remember at least.) Somehow it seems like I 'see' the words conceptually. Possibly this is only what you were describing.

Looking at the discussion again, I seem to have the same kind of mind for these things as Sam Kelly, which is a relief. I was beginning to feel left out among all these visual thinkers.

#177 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Cool! Some of my examples have been put on the front page!
(Slightly awkward! They have been attributed to Zander!)

And no place for "dually elected"?

#178 ::: Dana ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:45 AM:

I had a physics professor who used to refer to the "underlining principles" of whatever the topic of the day was, repeatedly. He also had a habit of underlining at the chalkboard, so perhaps the words were in fact synonymous for him.

#179 ::: Dana ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:03 AM:

Oh, and how about "advanced notice"? That one turns up a lot.

#180 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:13 AM:

Whoops! Sorry, Candle. Attributions all fixed now.

#181 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:19 AM:

Thanks! It felt a bit ridiculous to point it out, but I suppose this is a kind of proofreading thread. :)

#182 ::: Kinsley Castle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:43 AM:

I'm with SteveE here. The Empirical Storm Troopers are great. They're the little bespectacled guys with the scales and slide-rules who mutter things like, "That's one-point-three-seven give or take a gnat's whisker."

#183 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:56 AM:

I've always been an excellent speller, and a terrible typist. I nearly always know exactly which word I want, and how to spell it. Nevertheless, my fingers often type another word entirely. Sometimes it's s homonym, sometimes not, but it's usually at least vaguely homophonic. Other times it's a case of automatically typing certain letter combinations such as -ing or -sion, whether or not they're appropriate. (In high school I could never type the name Ellison on the first try. It always came out "Ellision." Erasable bond was my friend in those days.)

Now, of course, I always find my typos the moment after I post them.

It's not just the physical act of typing that produces such effects, either. I often find the same kinds of "typos" in my handwritten drafts.

FWIW and all that.

#184 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:03 AM:

swing your partners, dosie dough

Isn't that supposed to be "doe see d'oh?"

#185 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:03 AM:

For the current and former Catholics in the crowd:

"Hail Mary
Full of Grapes"

#186 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:04 AM:

Wait, that's heard, not written. Scratch that one.

#187 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:04 AM:

E. writes, "I once was the third person in an email chain where the first person spelled it 'chord' and the second person spelled it 'cored.' Unfortunately, the word they wanted was 'cord.'"

The other night, I was reading David Maraniss' new biography of Roberto Clemente and ran across "vocal chord" [sic]. (In the 7th game of the 1960 World Series a bad hop caused a baseball to hit Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat, injuring his vocal cord. It was the second worst thing to happen to the Yankees in that game, notes the evilly-grinning Pirates fan at the keyboard.) I was wondering which player misfielded that error: the spell-check or the copyeditor with a bad ear for eggcorns. Although most likely it was a double play, and they both botched it.

P.S. After his playing days, Kubek became an announcer.

#188 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:16 AM:

Karen Funk Blocher: I get that way too, sometimes, usually when I'm really tired or at least one sheet to the wind. I don't generally typo a word to not-a-word.

Usually I wind up noticing before I get to the end of whatever I'm trying to wright, because it allays ends up boing an embarrassing sound-alike weird of one short or an udder.

#189 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:42 AM:

I believe Empirical Storm Troopers are the ones who say, "My direct experience tells me that I should hide behind a lot of boxes, never fire my weapon, (since it cannot hit the broad side of a planet anyway), and when spoken to by anyone carrying a red lightsaber, nod once vigorously and hide inside the heaviest available pipe until my external life-form sensor quits pinging. Also, if pursuing rebels and they blow the control on a blast door, shout 'Open the blast doors!' and then go find something else to do."

#190 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:46 AM:

I had baited breath inedibly explained when watching a Mork and Mindy rerun containing the line "You waited with a worm on your tongue?"

And they say you don't learn from TV.

#191 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:07 AM:

Inedibly explained? Well, I guess you wouldn't want a worm on your tongue...

(Begging your pardon if that was intentional, of course. Otherwise, I think you meant 'indelibly'.)

#192 ::: MLR ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:54 AM:

Vlad makes boo-koo bucks (Writerious)

Growing up in south Georgia *mumble* years ago, we used to say "boo-koos," meaning a lot, and we pronounced it exactly as it's spelled here. It wasn't until I took high school French that I realized we were mangling the word. I later learned they didn't say boo-koos in north Georgia, so I'm guessing it was a local language artifact.

I've been reading so much lewt speech and Singlish lately that I had to read some of these twice to see the problem.

cya ard m8

#193 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 05:16 AM:

In re subjunctive:
I didn't learn it by age 5 (at least, I don't think I did), but I still use it correctly. The way I remember it is by recalling the most famous use of the subjunctive (see if you can place the following: "Daydle-diddle-deedle, daydle-diddle-deedle-deedle bum.")

About visual spelling/reading: I taught myself to read by age 2ish (according to my parents), and to this day, I am something of a speed-reader. When I read, I recognize entire words by their shapes, and will occasionally read an entire line at once. This, as you can imagine, is much faster than sounding out the words. From my experience, people who learn to read via the phonics method will read slower than those who read by shape, even after they (the first set) no longer need to sound out the words.

Finally, I'd pay to read a story titled "Under the Alien Yolk."

#194 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 05:44 AM:

John M. Ford writes: "Speech is privilege."

You know, there's at least one F/SF story in that.

Been done: "The Man Who Had No Idea", by Thomas Disch.

More on-topic to the thread: Elf Sternberg of all people said recently on rasfw, "It is a tenant among evangelical Christians that 'atheism is impossible'".

I also know a person who thought for a long time that when haggling with a seller one tried to "chew them down". He told me that he wishes he could find everyone he unintentionally offended over the years, to apologize and explain; but this is impossible.

#195 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:03 AM:

The sky above was the color of a Denver omelet, turned and just setting. Denver itself had been missing for eight years.

"It's not like I like alcohol in my protein," Cheese heard someone say as he hunted and pecked his way around the bar. "It's just that I'm denatured." It was a Beefbone voice and a Beefbone joke. The Coop -- at least the MIT side -- was a bar for professional eggheads; you could drink there for a week and never hear two clucks. . . .

. . . and that will be quite enough of that.

#196 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:51 AM:

With malice of forethought is with malice aforethought, a British legal term. Used in the phrase `murder with malice aforethought'.

I've seen boo-koo bucks by people who know the difference between an and an ; I've always read it as an ironic idiom. (I apologise; alliteration appeared, and afterwards avoided apprehension.)

#197 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:08 AM:

Re: Kate's "Prime Madonna": The filk band Ookla the Mok wrote a song about Cher called "Pre-Madonna Prima Donna". It's pretty funny, although it's not on their album "Poor Man's Copyright".

I once saw "since time in memorial" and thought "the park?"

#198 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:22 AM:

Seen today on a blog: "they think they're such a laugh ride."

#199 ::: Cryptic Ned ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Twice I've encountered people who expressed their bewilderment as to why a fine cut of meat was called "flaming yawn". I've never seen it written down though.

#200 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Growing up in south Georgia *mumble* years ago, we used to say "boo-koos," meaning a lot, and we pronounced it exactly as it's spelled here. It wasn't until I took high school French that I realized we were mangling the word. I later learned they didn't say boo-koos in north Georgia, so I'm guessing it was a local language artifact.

I expect that the use of beaucoup in south Georgia comes from the presence of Ft. Benning. The US Military took beaucoup (often spelled boo-koo) from its experiences in French Indochina. I believe it's service-wide.

#201 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:46 AM:

I'm weighing in late to this since I've been out of the country since Wednesday, but I once came across a reference to nipples being "prehensile tissue."

I can only assume the author meant "erectile," but the image is...stunning.

#202 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Oh, and also, back when I taught literature and writing, I had a student give me a paper about the Elizabethan theater. He wanted to talk about the excitement of attending the theater by referencing the danger of being pickpocketed while watching the show. What he wrote was: "Attending the theater was exciting because at any moment one could be violated from behind."

Indeed.

And I wonder, does anyone else find their pleasure in rock songs to be directely proportional to the lyricist's ability to use the subjunctive correctly, or is it just me?

And don't get me *started* on Christmas carols.

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:01 AM:

Prehensile nippl...? I think I'll stick with Lisa Goldstein's alien yolk, Sarah.

#204 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:14 AM:

The few proofreaders and copy editors of my acquaintance claim they catch more errors when reading hard copy rather than on-screen text. They aren't Luddites, so I'm wondering if there's a particular reason for this phenonenon.

#205 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Malthus: Once upon a time, I worked for a Boston-area polling firm that was conducting work for the upcoming gubernatorial primary in Kentucky...

In calling folks in "Versailles", I learned that it is, in fact, pronounced Vur-sales, accent on the 2nd syllable. Of course, how foolish of me. Silly Yankee.

#206 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Here's one I see small flurries of, on occasion: climatic battle. About the only movie that this phrase should apply to is a Japanese one called Otenki-oneesan (Weather Girl), which does in fact feature a magical combat between two weather girls at the end.

And as a complement to that, I should mention the game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, based on his earlier Civilization, which has a research-based faction called The University, whose bases are named for schools, laboratories and so on. One of the pre-generated base names is Climactic Research. Makes me think the Kinsey Institute made it on to the colony ship.

#207 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:55 AM:

Richard Anderson, at least for me, online text is much easier to skim, even when seriously trying to give it a thorough reading. The hand is in the habit of scrolling through the text at a steady pace.

#208 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:12 AM:

Hair-brained -- well, actually, there is the Shakespearean insult "she hath more hair than wit." So it kinda works.

protected static, there's a North Versailles near Pittsburgh, and it's also "Ver-SALES."

Hey, another Pirates fan! I heard Bob Prince's voice on a radio ad for that book, and it took me WAY back...

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Just ran into this one:
'And then I wonder how people here (well, the lower 48) would feel if, for example, we would allow Alaska to succeed.' [emphasis mine]

Well, probably better than if we would allow Alaska to fail.

#210 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:39 AM:

I know I catch more errors on paper than on screen. I suspect (but only suspect) that it has to do with either subliminal but distracting screen flicker, or with the higher resolution of most printouts than of most computer screens.

But I'm an empirical storm-trooper, not a research one, so I haven't even tried to test these hypotheses.

#211 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Pet peeve: The folks who say "Flaunted" when they mean "Flauted."

You flaunt your bodacious booty. You flaut the law...

#212 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:11 PM:

To be even more pedantic, it's flout the law...a *flaut is what a flautist might play if it wasn't for the various vowel-shifts and such that permitted the pair flute/flautist.

I also have to print things out to do a final proof-read. Or two or three. It looks different on paper somehow -- things leap out at me more.

#213 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Janet -- I realized AFTER I posted that I'd used the wrong spelling of 'flout' -- bit by my own bug...ouch!

#214 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:37 PM:

US pronunciation is a whole other topic. I live on Koch Lane. No two neighbours agree on how to pronounce it - cock, cosh, coke, cotch, coach. None of them rhyme it with loch, though that would be the (presumably original) German.

Which reminds me of Waugh's Loved One, where the English protagonists pronunciation of Medici is ridiculed as 'making Mr Medissy sound like some kinda wop'

#215 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Just saw someone talking about "vice grips" on Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools site.

#216 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:18 PM:

Much as I cringe at "comrpised of" and twitch a bit at "different than," the language is continually evolving and "set in stone" dictates of spelling and grammar can remind me at times of Creationists scoffing at Darwin. Back when the pedants were scribbling in Latin and the peasants were illiterate, no one tried to standardize (or, as the Brits would have it, "standardise") spelling -- that's why a lot of Chaucer's less archaic vocabulary can look like plain Bad Spelling now (see some of the Middle Englysshe" thread for examples).

Archaic terms like "just deserts"*, and even "kid gloves", are particularly likely to run through the mangle and come out like so many of the terms English has absorbed/stolen from other languages. (If not for that, we might still be limited to Anglo Saxon or Celtic.)

Some of you have some interesting talents -- seeing typos in red, etc. I have a little bit of synaesthesia (associating certain numbers with colors), and years of doing British cryptic crosswords have given me the occasional ability to decode anagrams instantaneously. (Doesn't always work, but it's handy when it does!)


*Incidentally, there used to be a bakery (in Berkeley, I think) called Just Desserts.

#217 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:32 PM:

"The language is eveloving" doesn't make me feel better about "comprised of". Language shifts that ambiguate (is that a word?) the language really, really bug me.

Yes, I know it's a losing battle.

It's gotten so no one can trust what's meant by the word "bimonthly". If you have to follow it up with "And by that I mean [once every two months | twice a month]" then you might as well not use the word at all. The loss of viable words is a sad thing.

*sigh*

I'm guilty of correcting "faze" to "phase" though. I was under the (apparently) mistaken impression that "faze" wasn't a real word, but a corruption of some verb version of "phase".

Subjunctive, now--the cure for that is to learn a second language. Granted, I was in my sixth year of Spanish before I could use the subjunctive with any confidence, but once I could, I suddenly understood it in English much better.

#218 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 01:56 PM:

protected static and Janet Croft:

Versailles, KY is down the road apiece from Athens, KY (pronounced w/ a long 'a').

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Nicole: I had a similar experience with subjunctive. I got to try explaining it (as one of the two fourth-year students) to the third-year class in HS. I don't know if they understood it - I had to do it in German - but I certainly got it straight.

#220 ::: Laurence Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Athens, KY (pronounced w/ a long 'a')

What about Athens, Georgia?

#221 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:15 PM:

I'm with Nicole on the evolution of language thing. I care that some important distinctions are being lost and will have to be reinvented. As I tell my students, a good writer is never ambiguous except on purpose.

I thought "different than" was standard American. Is it frowned upon in the US too? I think I saw Teresa complain about it a short while ago.

years of doing British cryptic crosswords have given me the occasional ability to decode anagrams instantaneously

Yes, I can sometimes do that, and for exactly the same reason. I also have the strange habit of automatically reading words backwards as well as forwards, as if to check whether there is some hidden meaning. I have no idea why I do this, as I can't think of many circumstances in which it would be a benefit. But it's just ingrained now.

#222 ::: BetsyB ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:20 PM:

The lovely new Evil Editor blog quotes a query letter:

I felt that approaching you with a synapse rather than an unsolicited manuscript.....

#223 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Xopher:

The more times you see a word spelled correctly, and see the correct choice made between homophones, the more likely you are to get it right when you write...so I'd say "read, and having read, write right, and your paper will be read, but less red."

Too true, and not just for spelling. It's also a real argument against the "Fix these sentences" sort of grammar worksheets: Studies have shown that after a class reads and "corrects" 25-50 sentences with errors, more students -- although not always the same ones -- will start having trouble with the errors they've been working on -- thank you visual reinforcement!

BTW I think children (as opposed to adolescents or young adults) should not be taught the word 'homonym' at all. Appallingly, it's used for both homophones AND homographs, which are entirely different things. This makes it virtually impossible to explain the situation of 'red', which is homophonous with 'read' (past), which is homographic with 'read' (present), which is homophonous with 'reed'.

Not that I believe in using 'homophone' and 'homograph' in grade or junior high school either. If your goal is to teach them Greek, sure. If your goal is to improve their spelling by getting a concept across, no. Call them 'sound-alike words' and 'look-alike words'.(/i>

Weird. When I was growing up they taught us homophones were the sound-alikes (bear/bare; to/too/two) and homonyms ["same name"?] were the ones that were spelled the same (bear n/bear v). Wonder if it's a local variant or a "personal error"?

galley slave:

He gave her organism after organism

That's the plot summary of "A Partridge in a Pear [NOT Pair] Tree", isn't it?

#224 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:29 PM:

Writerious, an example of a correct usage: "Vocal chords sound entirely different from instrumental ones; for example, a grating dissonance on a piano can be the most exquisite harmony in a choir."

As Scott pointed out, they all mean something. This is what makes it fun. As I have pointed out elsewhere, even "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" has meaning, even if it's a struggle to find it; sentences are not constrained to "make sense" any more than they're constrained to be true.

One of the pre-generated base names is Climactic Research. Makes me think the Kinsey Institute made it on to the colony ship.

Either that, or it's the Eschatology Department.

I used to be able to look at a page fresh from the printer and find a typo on it before I (thought I) had time to read it. Reading internet spellings has somewhat eroded that ability...since I'm busy trying NOT to notice people's misspellings.

And: Newark, NJ is pronounced Nerk or maybe N(w)erk by its natives. Newark, OH is pronounced Nerkahigh. Newark, DE is pronounced New Ark (as in, not the one Noah built...there's even a New Ark (spelled that way) church there). Only outsiders say Newwerk.

And when Texans come to New York and try to find Houston Street, no one knows what they're talking about.

#225 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:29 PM:

a good writer is never ambiguous except on purpose.

I quite like that.

If my search function is working, we've reached this point in the proceedings without "speech/speach."

#226 ::: pb ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:32 PM:

A colleague sent me an angry e-mail after I asked her to do one thing too many:

"I am not at your beckon call," she wrote.

#227 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Pedantic Peasant: most likely a local error.

Oh! Oh! "They went out shooting peasants"!!!!! I think I saw that one...didn't remember until now.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:39 PM:

Another pair is supercede/supersede. I think the first might be a real word, but it tends to be used where they should have the second.

(and, from above, maybe Alaska will succeed, but probably not if it secedes.)

#229 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:40 PM:

candle: I read words backwards, too. I started after reading some comments by Ursula K. Le Guin regarding how she came up with the name for the city in 'Those Who Walk Away From Omelas'. She mentioned that she often read road signs backwards and got inspired by the result from Salem, Oregon.

I thought, "Neat!" and have been doing the same ever since. No inspirations, though.

#230 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 02:47 PM:

P J Evans: AFAIK 'supercede' solely exists as a misspelling of 'supersede'.

#231 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:03 PM:

In Illinois, we have long-a Athens, New Berlin (accent on the first syllable), and Vienna (long i).

#232 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:07 PM:

Mister Spock I had some confusion with Dr. Spock and Mr. Spock; in my defense, I was five at the time.

#233 ::: MLR ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Athens, KY (pronounced w/ a long 'a')

What about Athens, Georgia?


Athens, Georgia is pronounced like Athens, Greece.
Cairo, Georgia is pronounced with a long "a" though.

I expect that the use of beaucoup in south Georgia comes from the presence of Ft. Benning. The US Military took beaucoup (often spelled boo-koo) from its experiences in French Indochina. I believe it's service-wide

Thank you! Nice to know its provenance.

#234 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Cole Porter's hometown of Peru, IN is pronounced with a long E. And Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, is "Peer." If you ask certain locals how Louisville, KY is pronounced, they will tell you that it's "Lew-iss-vill," with what passes for deadpan in the Ohio Valley.

Also, it's the New MAD-rid Fault, not pronounced like the Espanish Ecity.

But this takes us far outfield.

#235 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:45 PM:

Here in Athens, Georgia, we pronounce it with a short "a". Buena Vista, Georgia, however, is pronounced "BYOO-nah VIST-ah" and Cairo "CAY-row". The ancient accepted pronunciations of nearby Dacula seem to be day-CYOOL-ah and day-COOL-ah, but Duh-CYOOL-ah is gaining popularity (much as I would like to say DAK-you-lah).

I learned about the subjunctive mood in the 6th grade, when it was introduced in German class (although I had encountered it earlier). Thoroughly confused, we asked our English teacher "what's a subjunctive" and she stopped regular lessons to teach us the English grammar she realized we were missing. Bless you, Miss Candler! It was also about this time that I realized that Marvel comics was (were?) dedicated to the preservation of the subjunctive. So many titles were "If this be ...[fill in the blank]".

#236 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:48 PM:

How do you pronounce Sodom, if you're from Sodom, NY?

And . . . are their dinosaurs there?

#237 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:50 PM:

I (and my teammates) are still mildly aggravated about the trivia game wherein the fellow reading the questions referred to a reclusive book character rather than an elusive one, resulting in us answering Shrek rather than Waldo.
Does anyone still care about the distinction between "gantlet" and "gauntlet"? Please say yes.
The one that irritates me most - the one that actually makes me yell at books, newspapers and my spouse - is mixing-up cavalry and Calvary.

#238 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:07 PM:

Linkmeister : "To one with such a gift, surfing the Web must feel uncomfortably like being drunk."

That doesn't describe my reaction, which is more of a mild revulsion or despair, coupled with an immediate feeling that the balance of the content is untrustworthy. "If the writer can't even spell..."

I tend to feel mildly seasick, and become mightily afraid that my own spelling will somehow suffer.

I save the worry about trustworthiness for restaurant menus, thusly: "If they can't spell it, I probably shouldn't eat it."

#239 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:08 PM:

And . . . are their dinosaurs there?

Whose dinosaurs?

#240 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:12 PM:

She mentioned that she often read road signs backwards and got inspired by the result from Salem, Oregon.

Which is, coincidentally, where I live (until June). Perhaps it's a sign. Well, in a different sense. Now we just have to work out what it's a sign of...

If we are going to cover mispronounced place-names - and we probably shouldn't - I ought to point out that the Americans are not necessarily the worst offenders. How about Beaulieu on the south coast of England, for instance? [Bew-ley, I believe.] And I am still unsure as to how I am supposed to be pronouncing Pontefract. Is anyone in Yorkshire?

#241 ::: Shawn M Bilodeau ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 04:14 PM:

"Dire Dale." Right, right...

The Morose Men, you say? I think I've heard of them. Thought they had a violinist in the group tho' - I know I've been told that they like to fiddle around.

[Is this where I apologize? ;)]

#242 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Nebraska has the towns of Juniata, pronounced june-ee-ET-ah, and Waneeta, pronounced like most of us would say the first.

#243 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 05:49 PM:

I'm delighted to discover other people who have the same nearly subconscious response to spelling errors. I'll glance at a page of type, think, 'there's a spelling error on this page,' and then will have to actually read the text to find it.

On the other thread - I got destroyed by local place (and other names) when I moved to Boston from Toronto. Knowing how to pronounce things properly in French is a serious burden in Boston. Who'd think that 'Faneuil' rhymes with 'flannel'? (Or 'fan-yel' - take your pick.) I once had a frustrating conversation - on both sides, I'm sure - with a Greyhound service agent about trying to take the bus to Montreal via Montpelier.

And it took me a year to stop saying 'Boston Celtics' with a hard 'c' (in my defense, the cultural term comes up a lot more often in my casual discourse than the sports team).

#244 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 05:59 PM:

I apologize for coming back so late (I always spend way too much time here, and yet never enough), but:

Teresa said: Murgatroyd, if by "outsourced copyediting" you mean using freelancers rather than in-house employees, I've been one of those freelancers, I've hired more of them than I can count, and they can be extraordinarily good. If yours aren't good, get better ones. They're out there.

Actually I guess that was inaccurate. I meant "offshored copyediting" -- the firms our publisher employs have offices in Manila and India -- and the primary qualification is low rates, not editorial skill. This is the third set of production firms we have been through (we've complained our way out of two others, one of which was US-based). Knowing the language well enough to correct its use is essential for a job like this, and although the production firm claims that it continually updates its copyeditors' language skills, the results are woefully inadequate.

We've invited a local freelancer (who also has access to compositing services) to send a proposal, but since the local's rate is approximately 4 times higher per page than the offshored rate, I don't have much hope that we'll be allowed to secede.

One of the things we never did was accept offers from "copyediting firms" who proposed to have their (nameless) copyeditors work on our manuscripts. That never works. Quality control goes all to hell. As Martha Schwartz said, "If they're good enough to work on our books, they're good enough to take our copyediting test and work for us directly." Also: "We don't use anonymous copyeditors."

I wish we had the same sort of control, but our publisher uses freelance editorial offices (us). They used to have in-house copyediting, which was marvelous -- a good copyeditor can surgically improve text without ever revealing his or her presence -- but academic publishing is up against the Internet and PLoS, and they're choking on the idea that their days are numbered.

#245 ::: Jerry Kindall ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:17 PM:

A personal nemesis: Discreet/discreet. Auuuuugh!

#246 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Um, Jerry. Try again.

Some senator said "flounder" yesterday when he meant "founder."

#247 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:28 PM:

Avram writes of ingenious new products in speculative fiction:

"Taught muscles" obviously benefit from some sort of hi-tech direct reflex implantation. "Bated Breath" is a brand of pheremonal lozenge.

Sadly, Avram appears to me to have mis-misspelled "bated."

#248 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Cliche sighting:......Arrests have become a right of passage for a growing list of "Sopranos" cast members:......

2 More 'Sopranos' Run Afoul of the Law
May 2, 3:26 PM (ET)
By TOM HAYS
NEW YORK (AP)

I've always understood they're both wrong it's vocal folds?


#249 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Afterthought:

Someone upthread said that "Font of all knowledge" was not correct, and that only "fount" will do. I'm flabbergasted. I though "font" was a legitimate (if archaic) abbreviation for "fountain", and, given the choice, I always preferred the way it sounded on the idiom.

#250 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:01 PM:

Amusingly approriate to this thread: This morning, I spotted a young man with a t-shirt with something like this written on the back:

"If money talks, the whole world gone listen."

It might have been a song lyric or a quote by someone (there was a picture on the back of someone I did not recognize).

#251 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Murgatroyd:

I meant "offshored copyediting" -- the firms our publisher employs have offices in Manila and India -- and the primary qualification is low rates, not editorial skill. This is the third set of production firms we have been through (we've complained our way out of two others, one of which was US-based).
Aw, cripes, I've been waiting for that to happen: non-copyeditors over here taking the word of offshore text-services packagers that their employees are up to snuff, and cheap!
Knowing the language well enough to correct its use is essential for a job like this, and although the production firm claims that it continually updates its copyeditors' language skills,
No no no. If you're having to "continually update your employees' skills," you aren't working with the real thing. Real copyeditors have broad and deep lifetime accumulations of expertise.
-- the results are woefully inadequate.
And, I'm certain, a terrible waste of money. That's the thing about copyediting: if done well, it supports and compensates for problems and complications in all the other phases of production. If done badly, it's hideously expensive to fix, and raises the price of all kinds of other operations. While it's possible to pay too much for good copyediting, it's also hard to do it.

What's even more expensive is excessively cheap copyediting, which can easily cost you six to eight times its ostensible price. Really, there's no other stage of production where so many hatchling problems can be squashed by a small but tightly-packed wad of money landing on top of them.

We've invited a local freelancer (who also has access to compositing services) to send a proposal, but since the local's rate is approximately 4 times higher per page than the offshore rate, I don't have much hope that we'll be allowed to secede.
I hear Nancy Hanger/Windhaven has available capacity, and she can get you good deals on other production services. Windhaven did all of Baen's very trying production work until Jim Baen let them go in a fit of what one piously hopes is temporary insanity. Or, if you're just looking for a copyeditor, ask Robert Legault there (Robert L) whether he's free. There are a number of freelance copyeditors and proofreaders posting to this thread, but Robert was my right-hand guy when I was Mg. Ed. at Tor, and he's very good.

(Okay, okay: so are the rest of you. All right? I know you're there.)

One of the things we never did was accept offers from "copyediting firms" who proposed to have their (nameless) copyeditors work on our manuscripts. That never works. Quality control goes all to hell. As Martha Schwartz said, "If they're good enough to work on our books, they're good enough to take our copyediting test and work for us directly." Also: "We don't use anonymous copyeditors."
I wish we had the same sort of control, but our publisher uses freelance editorial offices (us). They used to have in-house copyediting, which was marvelous -- a good copyeditor can surgically improve text without ever revealing his or her presence -- but academic publishing is up against the Internet and PLoS, and they're choking on the idea that their days are numbered.
Penny wise and pound foolish. Tell 'em I said that good copyediting is always cheaper than the alternative.

#252 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:03 PM:

Scraps said:
You're talking about the subjunctive mood, and part of why it's disappearing is that it's so complicated (and unnecessary) that most people who get it right do so only instinctively, and not one hundred percent of the time.

You're right about the instinctive part -- I don't ever remember having actual grammar lessons in school (I had New Math also), so I've absorbed most of what I know from reading (and checking up on aforementioned copyeditors). I find grammar lessons boring; there are few things more tedious than searching for a rule to back up my sense that something in the language is off. But here is what I meant by conditional tense:

If a case-control study were completed successfully in these areas that would also provide some evidence that question 2 could be answered affirmatively. (original)

If a case-control study was completed successfully in these areas, then there will be some evidence that question 2 can be answered affirmatively. (copyedited)

The author was speculating on the import of the results of a nonexistent case-control study. That sounds conditional to me.

However, the reason I picked up on it is the copyedited sentence just clunks in the ear, at least to me, and it could be argued that the meaning is altered by the changes, which is a cardinal sin for copyediting in a journal.

#253 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Marilee, was the senator talking about something sinking? I suppose people might flounder around a bit then. Or was he confusing a fish with someone who started something?

I've read that Illinois (pron ill-en-noy) was originally how the French wrote down phonetically what the local natives called that discrete area, presumably pronounced ee-en-wah.

Is it true that locals there call Greenwich Village "green witch" instead of "grennitch", or is this a mere calumny?

Still trying to work out what a "laugh ride" is ... <she hinted discreetly>

#254 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:14 PM:
Is it true that locals there call Greenwich Village "green witch" instead of "grennitch", or is this a mere calumny?
I haven't been a local for 36 years, but I've heard the name a good many times, and never as "green witch."
Still trying to work out what a "laugh ride" is ...
Laugh riot. Or it's something the Clown Mafia takes people on.
#255 ::: murgatroyd ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Teresa --

That's the thing about copyediting: if done well, it supports and compensates for problems and complications in all the other phases of production. If done badly, it's hideously expensive to fix, and raises the price of all kinds of other operations.

About a month ago I sent our managing editor a 22-page document listing copyediting and compositing errors for two issues. It caused some embarrassment, but I'm not sure about any lasting change. However, if we keep sending things back for corrections, we may drive up their prices.

Recently one editor-in-chief of a journal in this publisher's stable had to publish a letter of apology because a typographer had reformatted some quoted text used in an editorial so it looked as though the EIC had plagiarized it (properly formatted on proof pages, !poof! gone in the print version). I don't know who pointed it out, but it certainly caused a collective gasp among the editorial offices in our group.

As one of the issue publishers said, How long before they realize this is costing them money and they bring it all back in house again?

Thank you for the leads -- I will certainly see what I can do to follow up.

#256 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:28 PM:

Various members of my mother's side of the family lived in "Grennidge" village for decades.

A while back, we all got a scandalized kick out of an advert for Greenwich Savings Bank, in which the lady announcer pronounced it "green witch."

#257 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:31 PM:

If we are going to cover mispronounced place-names - and we probably shouldn't - I ought to point out that the Americans are not necessarily the worst offenders. How about Beaulieu on the south coast of England, for instance? [Bew-ley, I believe.] And I am still unsure as to how I am supposed to be pronouncing Pontefract. Is anyone in Yorkshire?

Oh, we have a long tradition of mispronouncing old names. Just off the top of my head I can think of Chalmondeley, Featherstoneshaugh, and Magdelane (College, Oxford), pronounced Chumly, Fanshaw, and Maudlin, respectively.

(That reminds me of Alfred Bester picking English place-names for surnames in The Stars, My Destination for their exoticism to American ears.)

As to Pontefract, I've always pronounced it Pontefrakt with a schwa instead of an e. But I'm a southerner, so don't take my word for it.

#258 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 07:39 PM:

"Illinois (pron ill-en-noy) was originally how the French wrote down phonetically..."

See "Owyhee" for Hawaii.

#259 ::: Ann Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:11 PM:

Greg L. --
Sorry for the post-and-run. Yes, Glen got it right: my student meant to type "mosquito spray" and instead carpet bombed the fly for all time with "misquote spray". I'd assigned Tim O'Brien's _The Things They Carried_ that semester, and we read not only that short story but also "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong," from which another student got "broad soldiers" instead of "broad shoulders." I didn't quite have the heart to tell them that many of the soldiers O'Brien depicted would have been rail-thin and possibly even undernourished or malnourished -- the only "broad soldiers" would have been the rear echelon desk jockeys.

#260 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:20 PM:

While our esteemed host can't vouch for my skills directly (I've somehow never worked for Tor), I am currently available for copyediting, if anyone is looking. (Unlike Nancy, I can't provide compositing.)

#261 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:29 PM:

This just in, on a final essay: "He spoke for the poor and those who really did not have a voice in the public eye."

#262 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:29 PM:

I find grammar lessons boring; there are few things more tedious than searching for a rule to back up my sense that something in the language is off.

I never had formal grammar lessons at school and now I love them. But then, I do teach Latin and love Latin grammar, so I am probably not a representative member of the modern world. Or indeed the human race. But what you are talking about with your conditionals is the difference between 'unreal' (or 'contrary-to-fact') conditionals - which require the subjunctive in the protasis, as you noted - and 'real' (or 'factual') conditionals, which use the indicative. So everyone is right, and this is a rare case where failing to use the subjunctive totally changes the meaning of the sentence.

But see: isn't it fun to play with this obscure vocabulary in support of your instinctive grasp of grammar? Part of the reason I love Latin is that it often points out to me why English grammar does certain odd things.

I think Nicole is right about font vs. fount - they are both archaisms or technical terms, and both mean the same thing (from the Latin: fons). The question, I suppose, is which is better established in the common idiom. But it can be dangerous to decide grammar by googling.

And I presume Marilee's politician was claiming that some plan or other would flounder on some obstacle. Which is possible, I suppose, but probably wrong in context.

Oh, and my problem with "Pontefract" is that I have heard it pronounced "Pumfrey". I don't know if this is a restricted usage or not, and I can't now remember the context. But it is not totally implausible as an English pronunciation.

Also, Des Moines.

#263 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:32 PM:

Since I'm marking papers, I do see things that make my mind boggle. Here's another:"Mill understood that the body cannot with stain, what the mind does not understand."

#264 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:36 PM:

Well, Google gives me a possible answer on the Pontefract issue. Apparently in Shakespeare it is pronounced (and spelled) "Pomfret", and the castle and sometimes Pontefract cakes are still pronounced the same way; but the town has gone with the spelling and is pronounced as NelC has it. No doubt information yanked at random off the internet is entirely unreliable, but it will do me for now. Unless there really is anyone from the West Riding hanging around.

Commiserations on the paper-grading, Fragano. Mine doesn't start for a few days yet, thankfully.

#265 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:40 PM:

Candle: I don't finish till next week (I give take-home finals, and collect the last lot on Tuesday). I keep coming across things like this: "The ideas of the theorists that will be altercated in this paper more or less focus on liberal democracy (Cugoano and John Stuart Mill) and cultural identity as a value that is thought of when defining liberal democracy (Emma Goldman and Malcolm X)."

That's an altercation I'd avoid.

#266 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Doubtless this has been said upthread, but mistakes like these result from automated spell-checking.

I saw "take stalk of" for "take stock of" in an academic review in a VERY prestigious academic journal in Classics, which has a very high bit-rate and probably cannot afford proofreaders. The academic author is held responsible for all mistakes.

#267 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:01 PM:

Unless there really is anyone from the West Riding hanging around.

I'm not from around there, but I can show off a little tidbit that I learned about it. "Riding", as in the English locale name/administrative division, is itself an eggcorn that derives from the Norse word for "third".

Citing the OED etymology for riding:

Late OE. type *riing or *riding (recorded only in Latin contexts or forms), ad. ON. rijung-r third part, f. rii third: see -ING. The initial consonant was subsequently absorbed by the preceding t or th of east, west, north.

Thus, "West Thriding" became "West Riding".

#268 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:18 PM:

By the way, some might find the "Latin contexts" mentioned in the OED citation to be of interest, so here they are:

a1066 Laws Edin. Conf. 31 (Lieberman), Erant etiam potestates super wapentagiis quas trehingas uocabant, scilicet super terciam partem prouincie.
1086 Domesday Bk. (1783) 375 Treding dicit quod non habet ibi nisi ix acras et dimid.
1215 Magna Carta 25 Omnes comitatus, hundredi, wapentakii, et trethingii, sint ad antiquas firmas.
#269 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:27 PM:

I have a friend who once wrote me a letter about "sewing her wild oats." The reason I've remembered it all these years is that she was going to the Fashion Institute of Technology at the time.

#270 ::: Sharon Mock ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:29 PM:

Found today:
... dragging his heals like a child ...

That's one dreadful phrase that won't find its way into the wild. (This thread is more like a zoo, or maybe a quarantine pen.)

Then there's the news story that circulated several years ago (i.e. almost certainly apocryphal) about the Neo-Nazi who went before the court to change his name in honor of his hero.

Yes, that's right.

Hi Hitler.

#271 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:31 PM:

One from the paper this morning, complaining about yet another crack-brained school program: "English teachers, formally enthusiastic about their subject, have become less so..." In a letter from a school principal. Or maybe principle. Who knows?

#272 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:43 PM:

Isn't it interesting how many of us o/u/r/ are making mistakes in the very examples we use to talk about mistakes, even when forced to preview the posts?


I (and my teammates) are still mildly aggravated about the trivia game wherein the fellow reading the questions referred to a reclusive book character rather than an elusive one

A pedant would point out that you don't mean "aggravated", which doesn't mean annoyed or irritated: it means to increase an annoyance or irritation. At least, that's what the pedants say.

With regard to comprise/compose and many, many others, the issue isn't whether the evolving of the language willy-nilly is a threat or a menace, and whether it's tragic that many fine distinctions are supposedly being lost (and in the case of comprise/compose it's hard to argue that any useful distinction is being lost, inasmuch as either word can be replaced with some variant of "make up"); the issue is that the distinctions often have not historically existed in the manner that pedants claim.

The difficult thing to accept is that a/r/e/ our language has no solid objective base of rules. It exists in an uneasy tug between common use and authority. When you cite "correct" meanings of words under dispute, you are citing (either explicitly or implicitly) an authority (or consensus of authorites). As Robert L pointed out above, what is under dispute changes, and yesterday's mistakes may be today's accepted use, or may still be under attack. If you want to accept authority on these matters, great; but it's also useful to keep in mind the history of use of a word, and the history of the dispute. Many of these things were simply decided more or less arbitratily by pedants at a detectable point in history, and handed down through generations of teachers and pedantic writers who rarely questioned the things they were told as children, even when they made no sense (such as the notion that it is incorrect to split infinitives, or that the phrase-adverbial use of "hopefully" is incorrect).

#273 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 09:58 PM:

While I am charmed to find "wapentagiis" in a Latin context, I was expecting to see the relevant bit of late Old English, or an identifiable form thereof. Can someone clarify this, so I don't have to strain my eyes on my photo-reduced OED? Is "trethingi" as close as we get?

#274 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:00 PM:

A vintage example I spotted today:

Nekrokedeia; or, The art of embalming, wherein is shewn the right of burial, the funeral ceremonies, and the several ways of preserving dead bodies in most nations of the world. (Thomas Greenhill, 1705)

joann wrote:

I save the worry about trustworthiness for restaurant menus, thusly: "If they can't spell it, I probably shouldn't eat it."

I think you're missing out. One of my favorite restaurants (called, as it happens, "JoAnn's") has a menu riddled with errors; and when it comes to barbecue, apostrophe abuse is your hallmark of quality.

#275 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Is "trethingi" as close as we get?

Unfortunately, that's all there is. As it said, "recorded only in Latin contexts or forms".

If there is an actual OE use of "thriding", it isn't in the online OED.

#276 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:08 PM:

If typoed food could not be et, New York Chinese restaurants would go bankrupt.

#277 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 10:10 PM:

Lest we forget the whole subset of errors found overseas, I remind all of Engrish. It's evolved (in the sense of "more and more of it can be found") from when I lived in Japan in the early 1970s.

#278 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:00 PM:

As I struggle with finals, gems continue to pop up. Here's another: "Bob Marley and Reggae served as a median to the entire world."

#279 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 11:36 PM:

As a fan of Craigslist, I find there are some of these phrases that are peculiar to the self-written want ad mode: people offering "rod iron" furniture and items that are fully "in tact" as well.

#280 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Ulrika...in tact I won't tell them that their usage is wrong...unless they have some new (and, I must expect, unpleasant) design for furniture.

#281 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:13 AM:

"one nation in a dirigible"

Can't remember the article, but one writer remembers her pledge as "one Asian, in the vestibule."

#282 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:22 AM:

J Austin: Back when I was in grad school, the campus conservative rag attacked the administration for removing the 'last vestibules of fun and merriment' on the campus. I recall wondering how much fun one could have in a vestibule.

#283 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 01:12 AM:

Things like "cord" and "chord" can be sneaky. After all, "discordant."

The husband is of the group that measures words without reading them first. With street signs, especially. When he can make out the first letter, he then guesses what street we're approaching by the length of the word. Drives me as crazy as I do him with driving by landmark instead of proper directions.
He does the same with hearing, though. The syllables are right, the number of words is right, but it comes out, "Hey, is this a Zubic Micronium?"

#284 ::: Adam S ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 01:45 AM:

I've always been the opposite: knew a lot of big words from reading them, but shamed myself constantly when mispronouncing them in conversation.

#285 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:37 AM:

Adam S:
Yeah, me too. The first time I ever heard "debacle" said, my brain tripped over the ungainly emphasis. I still say it my way in my head.
I actually got accused of cheating in a Renaissance and Reformation history class because I sounded like such a damn hick when I opened my mouth, that my professer was certain I'd either written my essay before the test period, or had an upperclassman do it.

#286 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:41 AM:

David Goldfarb wrote:

> Elf Sternberg of all people said recently on rasfw, "It is a tenant among evangelical Christians that 'atheism is impossible'".

That *is* unlike him. May be it wasn't a typo and he meant that it was a meme which had moved into their heads and wouldn't leave.

#287 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:06 AM:

pedantic peasant writes:

> Too true, and not just for spelling. It's also a real argument against the "Fix these sentences" sort of grammar worksheets: Studies have shown that after a class reads and "corrects" 25-50 sentences with errors, more students -- although not always the same ones -- will start having trouble with the errors they've been working on -- thank you visual reinforcement!

In my last year of school I encountered the mnemonic RAVEN - Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun. Now that's a nice little mnemonic, but up unitl that time I'd just automatically got affect/effect right. Now I need to dredge up that damned acronym every time I use either word.

#288 ::: Wim L ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:16 AM:

Tim Walters: I suppose it could have been showing the correct way of burial, as in "you have the right of it".

#289 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:17 AM:

I've been curious to know how I'd do on the Tor copyediting test ever since I heard about it. Is there any way I can arrange to get a look at it?

Candle was talking about how Latin handles conditionals. Some of you may recall that I've been studying Greek, and I'm here to tell you that Greek does some really funky things with them. I won't burden the comment thread with the details.

#290 ::: sammywol ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:06 AM:

Has anyone had 'viscous attack' yet? There are a lot of apparently treacle-coated vampires on BtVS sites.

#291 ::: Jasper Milvain ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:38 AM:

My favourite near-miss so far as a newspaper copy-editor may not count as phonetic, but have it anyway: "Symphony in a Flat".

#292 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 07:34 AM:

Scraps, the OED supports my usage. Seventh sense of the word, with cites from 1611 to 1858. Admittedly the OED also has "uncircumcisedness" as a word, and I wouldn't consider any dictionary as prescriptive anyway, but I would consider that a long enough history to allow the usage of "aggravated" in this manner.

#293 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:05 AM:

From one of my early manuscripts: "Gradually the spirit solidified into corporal form."

#294 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:17 AM:

Eleanor: What happened when it made sergeant?

#295 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:19 AM:

This monstrosity had me (metaphorically) tearing my hair out last night: "Cultural identity then creates a problem, with Cugoano he had a liberal way of thinking but his philosophy surrounded the people of Africa, he sought out to change his own cultural group to better society, and not to all mankind."

My thought was simply "What the French Connection UK does that MEAN?"

My mind was then soothed by a more traditional transposition: "Original Rastas (Rastafarianism was a new religion) surfaced with the thoughts of Marcus Gravey."

#296 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Coming late to the pronunciation-of-placenames subthread, I can contribute three where I've lived: Sannazay (San Jose) and Oaklund (not "land") in California, and current home Preskut (Prescott) AZ, which sounds more like "press kit" than "press cot" in localspeak. Time seems to erode away vowels and syllables -- as in some of those old British burgs and counties where five syllables boil down to three -- but the shorthand of familiarity can do the same.

While transcribing a Locus interview, I came across a lovely rant against applying Latin rules to English grammar (espec. the split infinitive), but alas it ranged too far from topic to use. If the interviewee (he knows who he is) cares to get it out in public, "Making Light" is a good place for it. And I no longer proofread Locus, so can't be blamed for the "comprised of" that shows up in the current issue's YA section, but will apologize anyway!

#297 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 11:44 AM:

The totally embarassing Mike McCurry over in his eponymous sidelight says:

You all worship at Vince Cerf who has a clear financial interest in the outcome of this debate but you immediately castigate all of us who disagree and impune our motives.

Apart from not knowing this Cerf person at whom I'm supposed to be worshipping, I am struck by the verb to impune. From context, seems to be a critical or at least a negative action, so I don't think it can be related to impunity. Perhaps it means to mock using a pune, or play on wordes.

#298 ::: Bill Burns ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Seen on a health care email list: "Our hospital was in the mist of a project ..."

I've been in hospitals like that.

#299 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:33 PM:

In my last year of school I encountered the mnemonic RAVEN - Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun. Now that's a nice little mnemonic, but up unitl that time I'd just automatically got affect/effect right.

Except that it's not right.

'Affect' is a noun. It's a psychiatric term meaning, roughly, observable mood.
'Effect' is a verb, meaning 'cause to happen'. One speaks of 'effecting a change' in something. So confusing the two here is particularly bad: "I effected the abolition of the semicolon" (=I wiped out semicolons) is very different from "I affected the abolition of the semicolon" (=I had some effect on it; maybe I slowed it down).

A lot of the mishearings are vivid. "A viscous attack in the media" - ie mud sticks and is hard to scrape off.

Also: "fine tooth-comb" - what? For combing teeth?
"Fine-tooth comb" please.

British placenames are great for confusing the unwary foreigner who, until arriving, thought he/she could read and speak. They fall into three categories:

BASIC: England
Leicester
Derby
Holborn
Middlesborough
Pontefract

INTERMEDIATE: Oxford and Cambridge
Gonville & Caius
Magdalen
Magdalene (which is which?)
Worcester
Wadham

ADVANCED: Scotland
Dalyell (pronounced Dalziel)
Menzies (not pronounced Menzies)
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
Beinn a'Chlaidheimh
Meall Ghaordaidh

#300 ::: Maximus ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:36 PM:

Spotted within the last couple of weeks:

- A website selling "mid-evil style" jewelry.
- Music being played "on queue."

#301 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 12:50 PM:

Fairly common in Britain if not elsewhere: "I can't be asked to do that."

#302 ::: Rob Kerr ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 01:30 PM:

re: "Symphony in a Flat" -- this is not actually an error at all. There is a standard convention where the key of a piece is rendered in lower-case if it is minor, and upper-case if major. Thus, a symphony in a flat is really in A flat minor.

I would be more worried about a symphony in an apartment.

#303 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Fragano Ledgister --This monstrosity had me (metaphorically) tearing my hair out last night: "Cultural identity then creates a problem, with Cugoano he had a liberal way of thinking but his philosophy surrounded the people of Africa, he sought out to change his own cultural group to better society, and not to all mankind."

My thought was simply "What the French Connection UK does that MEAN?"

When faced with writing of that sort, my usual reaction was to write a referral to the Undergraduate Writing Center. The miscreant's subsequent exams and papers invariably were in clear English. I once had a student who seemed to have been trained by Lacan or Derrida; an entire exam was full of stuff like you quoted, only decorated with postmodernist artcrit babble. Three or four weeks' worth of UWC fixed them right up. I have no idea how the Center did it, but it sure worked.

#304 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:00 PM:

I just found this one in a library publication: low-and-behold.

--Mary Aileen

#305 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:01 PM:

Niall McAuley:

The totally embarassing Mike McCurry over in his eponymous sidelight says:

You all worship at Vince Cerf who has a clear financial interest in the outcome of this debate but you immediately castigate all of us who disagree and impune our motives.

Apart from not knowing this Cerf person at whom I'm supposed to be worshipping, I am struck by the verb to impune. From context, seems to be a critical or at least a negative action, so I don't think it can be related to impunity. Perhaps it means to mock using a pune, or play on wordes.

I'd guess he meant impugn. Or perhaps you knew that and were being amusing.

Ajay:

Also: "fine tooth-comb" - what? For combing teeth?
"Fine-tooth comb" please.

I've always heard it as fine-toothed comb, which makes it much clearer where the tooth bites.

#306 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Tim Walters -- joann wrote:
I save the worry about trustworthiness for restaurant menus, thusly: "If they can't spell it, I probably shouldn't eat it."

I think you're missing out. One of my favorite restaurants (called, as it happens, "JoAnn's") has a menu riddled with errors; and when it comes to barbecue, apostrophe abuse is your hallmark of quality.
Scraps :
If typoed food could not be et, New York Chinese restaurants would go bankrupt.

I was actually thinking more of the aspirant "maison de la casa haus"-type places that never consulted any sort of written authority when producing their menus full of recipes from the foreign. Apostrophes are, IMO, a totally lost cause--F'ghu's sake, I found "it's" as a possessive in the NYT the other day!

#307 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:11 PM:

In my last year of school I encountered the mnemonic RAVEN - Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun.

To add to your troubles with this, there is also a noun 'affect' ("He exhibited the flat affect typical of patients with this injury") and a verb 'effect' ("Our purpose is to effect positive change in the race relations in our community").

While transcribing a Locus interview, I came across a lovely rant against applying Latin rules to English grammar (espec. the split infinitive), but alas it ranged too far from topic to use.

I tend to let it go at "The English language Latin that same thing not is." I got this from Teresa, but I'm not certain it's original with her.

Rob Kerr - still, a dash is de rigeur, surely? "Symphony in a-Flat"? But it's also odd to write it that way. Ordinarily you either spell the whole thing out (A Flat Minor) or use the symbol ♭ (A♭ == A-Flat Major; a♭ == A-Flat Minor).

a♭ is a pretty weird key anyway, if you ask me.

(Btw, for those who care, ♭ is &#9837;)

#308 ::: Rob Kerr ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:38 PM:

Ordinarily you either spell the whole thing out (A Flat Minor) or use the symbol ♭ (A♭ == A-Flat Major; a♭ == A-Flat Minor).

A random sampling of the discs close to hand says otherwise. None uses the flat symbol, and none is hyphenated. In fact, I'm more used to seeing hyphenation between the letter of the scale and the word "minor", when written using German notation (e.g. Bach's "h-Moll Messe", Bach's B minor Mass)

The tradition of using lowercase to mean minor has certainly died out recently, but is still observable in some older music writers' musings.

#309 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Seen this morning at the Starbuck's in the lobby: 'old fashion doughnut'.
(I'm assuming they mean 'old-fashioned'.)

Apostrophes are misplaced so often I've started wondering if they even get mentioned in school any more. 'Real Estate Investor Seek's Apprentice' is one sign I've seen. (Not to be confused with the sign advertising 'cashflowing property'!)

#310 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:03 PM:

Faren -- Er, I do proofread Locus. My policy has been (with the support of Management -- you know Who I mean) to leave the compose/comprise thing as people write it, as well as the nauseous/nauseated thing, since the distinction doesn't seem to be made as much these days. I'm open to other arguments, though. (Proofreading has got to be the most unrewarding profession in the world -- if you do your job correctly no one notices, but spell one word wrong ...)

Back to English pronunciation -- An Englishman once laughed at me when I asked him where Tottenham Street was. "Oooh, Totnam!" he said. Much too late, I realized I should have said, "Oh, yeah -- well, how would you pronounce La Jolla, you're so smart?"

#311 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Faren Miller, I had relatives who owned the drive-in theater in Bagdad, so I heard Prescott mangled often. Other Arizona weirdness: Tucson, usually properly spoken but often typo-ed as Tuscon, which makes me think of mastodon formal wear.

#312 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:14 PM:

One that I've seen so often that I honestly don't know which is correct is iced tea/ice tea.

I feel sure that it must be "iced tea" as it is tea which has been poured over ice and, thus, iced. And "ice tea" sounds rather like "ice wine" which really isn't it at all.

But then, it's "ice cream."

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:17 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: yeah, and they said "sare a JAY vough" when the Olympics were there, too. I heard a BBC commentary once, from Singapore, where a member of a political theatre company said "My friends are always saying 'When is the Black Maria [muh REE uh] going to come for you?'" The BBC reporter immediately explained that "The Black Maria [muh RYE uh] is the paddy wagon."

She was so arrogant she wouldn't even get it right with an exemplar right in front of her! I've found that on the BBC this is true of every language except French, which even the BBC attempts to pronounce correctly.

#314 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:20 PM:

Ulrika's mention of "people offering 'rod iron furniture'" reminded me of a business my then-girlfriend and I passed every so often, which made and sold "rot iron".

#315 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:32 PM:

I've never heard paddywagons called the 'Black Ma-REE-a', only the 'Black Ma-RYE-a'. (I don't know why the pronunciation in this case is different. The handy dictionary also gives only this pronunciation, with no explanation. My compact OED is in a box, about thirty miles from where I'm sitting, or I'd check it also.)

#317 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:42 PM:

P J Evans: "Apostrophes are misplaced so often I've started wondering if they even get mentioned in school any more"

To say nothing of all the people who believe that quotation marks are used for emphasis: 'For sale: "new" washer' (temporarily using British quoting conventions).

Hyphens get their share of abuse, too, with people inserting them at whim these days. (As best I can tell, the current misuse began with computer types not understanding the difference between the act, "to back up a disk", and the result, "a tape back-up". The current rule seems to be, "when in doubt, insert a hyphen".)

But punctuation abuse probably deserves its own thread.

#318 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:50 PM:

P J Evans -- I've never heard paddywagons called the 'Black Ma-REE-a', only the 'Black Ma-RYE-a'. (I don't know why the pronunciation in this case is different. The handy dictionary also gives only this pronunciation, with no explanation. My compact OED is in a box, about thirty miles from where I'm sitting, or I'd check it also.)

Although the definition is in the OED supplement, the pronunciation doesn't get mentioned. (And how embarrassing--I almost had to dig out the magnifying glass. Must be officially old.) Further checking reveals that Partridge also ignores pronunciation.

Both Merriam-Webster Online (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Black+Maria) and Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Black+Maria) give a long "i".

#319 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:56 PM:

Linkmeister: or a gathering of mastodon fans.

#320 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 03:56 PM:

Todd Rundgren (Is he a linguistic authority? I don't know, but he did write a song about onomatopoeia, which must count for something.) pronounces it "Black Ma-RYE-a" in his song "Black Maria."

#321 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:03 PM:

Still, the person pronounced it according to local custom, and it ought to have been pronounced the way she said it (her being a native of Singapore, and the BBC reporter NOT being one).

And I've seen the term before and (I guess) always assumed it used a correct pronunciation of 'Maria'. The one with an EYE in the middle is spelled Mariah as far as I'm concerned.

And I scoff at Webster! (I don't know from Free Dictionary.) I'll see what American Heritage says when I get home (probably the same thing it says now, but I can't check it yet).

#322 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Tucson is pronounced TOO-sahn. Their local annual SF convention is called TusCon.

Greg London, "thirty yacht six" is a thing of beauty and wonder.

Faren, Xopher: I've already published my rants about split infinitives, terminal prepositions, etc., in "On Copyediting." Xopher, the phrase you were trying to remember was "The language Latin that same thing as English not is," and I believe it's mine.

#323 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:12 PM:

As I understand it, "Black Maria" (when used in the context cited) *is* correctly pronounced "Ma-RYE-a", but then I grew up listening to the BBC.

On Scraps' point about distinctions sometimes having never existed and therefore relying on (often unnamed) authorities: well yes, but the "language is evolving" argument depends just as much on the authority of the ordinary language users. Some may prefer that, and I guess they (we?) will win in the end, but that's no reason not to try to affect the outcome. I don't like to ground my argument in historical usages, or you get into trouble; I'd prefer to ground it in whether or not a useful distinction is being made (as with flout/flaunt) or not (as with font/fount). Ambiguity (for modern readers) is bad, historically justified or otherwise. Of course, if nobody understands the distinction made, then perhaps it does have to be abandoned. But I still think it's a shame. And values for "nobody" in that sentence may vary.

Magdalen
Magdalene (which is which?)

Magdalene is at Cambridge and Magdalen Oxford, although they are pronounced the same way (as "Maudlin"). And the old pronunciation of "Holborn" is being phased out, as far as I can tell, seeing as everyone looks at me strangely when I use it in London. But I will continue to laugh, entirely unfairly, at people who mispronounce Edinburgh or Tottenham, and also La Jolla. But how about the famous Towcester races?

English teachers, formally enthusiastic about their subject

Reminds me of Charles Windsor, the artist formally known as Prince.

#324 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:17 PM:

Sarah S lamented:
One that I've seen so often that I honestly don't know which is correct is iced tea/ice tea.

"Iced tea" is correct: tea which has been "iced", or (in this case) been combined with ice (either by adding the ice or pouring the tea over the ice). A near-equivalent would be "spiced wine", wine which has had spices added to it.

(Why, then, is it "ice water"? I'd guess that has a different derivation: "ice water" would originally be the water coming off melting ice, and, by extension, any water of the same temperature, usually achieved by adding ice to water. Or perhaps it should be "iced water", and lost the "d" rather longer ago than "ice tea". Had I an OED handy, I'd check.)

But then, it's "ice cream."

The way one phrase comes into being doesn't necessarily tell you anything about how a seemingly-equivalent phrase came into being. "Iced tea" is still liquid; "ice cream" is solid (in the same way that clay is solid), and you don't have separate "ice" and "cream" parts, as you do with "iced tea". Hence, it is cream that is ice, rather than cream that has been iced.

#325 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:18 PM:

enclosed is a synapse plus three chapters

Oh, my head...

#326 ::: Pedantic Peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Xopher:

Not that this counts as any sort of authority, but there is a song (apparently from a Lerner and Lowe musical Paint Your Wagon) called "They Call the Wind Maria", in which Maria is pronounced with the RYE middle, to rhyme with "Fire".

So the "dual" pronounciation goes back at least that far.


I have no idea if this (directly) relates, but I recall from several years back an article about peoples' names in a parenting magazine that talked about gender shifts, and that very often, a name would initially have a different pronounciation when it shifted genders -- even if the spelling didn't change -- and that once a name shifted from being used for males to also applying to females, very often its use for males would decline or cease altogether. It gave several examples, none of which (of course) I specifically remember.

But maybe this is related ...

... Or, maybe not.

#327 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Pedantic Peasant

Like Evelyn? I believe that's pronounced EEV-lin for men, and EV-e-lin for women.

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Pedantic Peasant - yes, and it's spelled both ways by various people. Lerner and Lowe apparently were in the WRONG camp, because the sheet music spells it that way. Look here for a website that spells it "right" even though they show a picture of the sheet music with it "wrong"!

Paint Your Wagon was a sucky show anyway.

OK, OK. Shet mah mouf.

#329 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:39 PM:

Lerner and Loewe, please. Yes, "Maria" the name has historically been pronounced both ways, and I believe the "h" on the end has been added to distinguish the two of them. "Black Maria" seems to go back to an 1830s racehorse in New York - certainly the term for a prison van can be cited from 1836 - so the question is how "Maria" might have been pronounced back then. Anyone know?

(When I said "certainly" then, I meant "according to the first relevant citation I could find on Google", but that would have taken too long.)

#330 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:47 PM:

I had a neighbor once tell me, in reference to some long-since-forgotten incident, that she "was fiberglasted".

#331 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 04:50 PM:

Suzanne - that happened to me once. It itched for weeks, it was awful. And I wore gloves working with insulation from then on.

#332 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 05:24 PM:

Re black ma-RYE-ah, it's the British title of this book. The UK edition does not have the handy pronunciation guide in the first paragraph. You are expected to know. When I first read the book, I didn't know. I've compared notes with a couple of other readers, and they didn't know either.

I'm not a big fan of character name pronunciation guides in general, and it doesn't matter a jot to me how anyone pronounces "Hermione". But letting the evil Mrs Laker share her name with the heroine of West Side Story would send out all the wrong signals.

#333 ::: Sen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Great thread.

In her excellent "Eats, Shoots, & Leaves", Lynne Truss found that "fine tooth-comb" was correct in 19th century literature.
Apparently there was in fact something called a "tooth-comb".

#334 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:03 PM:

But letting the evil Mrs Laker share her name with the heroine of West Side Story would send out all the wrong signals.

*jaw drops* Oh, but you're kidding, of course. No one could be that silly really. The Karate Kid went through the Stargate? That girl in The Blair Witch Project deserved what she got, after all she was SO MEAN in high school...

#335 ::: L.B. Lidsky ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 06:56 PM:

A student wrote on a law school exam that a regulation "wouldn't pass constitutional mustard" (as opposed to constitutional muster, which is far less stringent).

#336 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 07:03 PM:

J Austin: He does the same with hearing, though. The syllables are right, the number of words is right, but it comes out, "Hey, is this a Zubic Micronium?"

Has your husband had any brain injuries? This is a classic type of aphasia.

Adam S, I was 12 when I hit the "know more words than I can pronounce" hurdle.

#337 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Passing constitutional mustard is an extremely painful symptom of certain diseases and should not be dismissed lightly.

#338 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 07:31 PM:

Marilee,
No brain injuries of which I'm aware. The thing with the Cubic Zirconium is just him not really paying attention, as far as we can discover. He gets the cadence, and a fair number of the defining letters, but the actual pronunciation isn't particularly important to him. If I get pissy, and make him say something right, then he has it, and just says it wrong to irritate me.
It's the same first-letter-measure-the-word thing with books. He's an avid reader, but can read the same book over and over. I do that too, with my favorites, but with him, it truly is different each time, because the first time, he doesn't actually read all the words.
With my first manuscript--
"Hey, you should mention this earlier."
"I mentioned it three times in the first chapter. You're fired."

#339 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:06 PM:

and just says it wrong to irritate me.

ObBloomCounty:

Pear Pimples for Hairy Fishnuts!

#340 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:16 PM:

joann: The writing centre at my college is staffed by students some of whom are little better than the ones going to them.

#341 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:27 PM:

The writing centre at my college is staffed by students some of whom are little better than the ones going to them.

And, I would add, while quite good at correcting grammatical errors, these centres often have a problem with student essays which are strictly grammatical but don't say anything. Actually, that's a problem with a lot of professors, too.

#342 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:34 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: What if one can pronounce both 'La Jolla' and 'Tottenham' in the correct local manner (your humble and ob't servant having grown up near one and gone to grad school in the other).

#343 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:34 PM:

Owlmirror,
I was thinking Hairy Fishnuts all day yesterday, but couldn't remember the source. Two stuffed Opus--er, Opera, I guess--are sitting right in front of me.

#344 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:39 PM:

Xopher: Oh, but sometimes, when it's not squicky, it's fun. Take Curious George Bush.

#345 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:41 PM:

"Taking the United states as a hole,"

(from a high school history paper)

#346 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:48 PM:

Eric Nelson: OUCH!!

#347 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 08:49 PM:

I've been wondering whether our esteemed hosts ever receive submissions addressed to "Tore Books."

I suppose that would be a name bestowed on someone who liked to rip up telephone directories.

(Ducking)

#348 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 09:15 PM:

Ooh! I just remember this one, from a story in a Star Trek fanzine circa 1974. The reference is to Captain Kirk:

"But Captian is in human."

I'm fairly certain the writer was not refering to a body swap, nor to Kirk's latest girlfriend.

#349 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:19 PM:

I facepalm. I live in Gloucestershire, how could I forget that and the other -cesters as an example of simplified English pronunciation? (Glostershuh)

BTW, how is La Jolla pronounced?

#350 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:34 PM:

Now, I just saw this over at Pharyngula: "...some sodden militaristic crusade". Which gave me pause, as I would have said "...some sodding military crusade".

But on second thoughts PZ probably did mean "wet" (possibly in the sense of drunk) and wasn't trying to cuss.

#351 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:50 PM:

NelC, like (Oscar de) la Hoya.

#352 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2006, 10:50 PM:

It's pronounced "La Hoya", the way a Spanish person would say it. Actually, from the More Information Than You Really Wanted Department, the correct spelling is La Joya ("the jewel") -- the explanation I was given is that it was named Very Long Ago and spelling wasn't consistent back then.

Xopher -- I once heard an Englishman say something that sounded like "MAY-co", which, it turns out, was his pronunciation of "macho".

Teresa -- You gave me a copy of "On Copyediting" many years ago at some convention or other -- I still have it and treasure it, not least because you said it was okay to end a sentence with a preposition.

Fragano Ledgister -- I abase myself in the face of your superior pronunciation skills. And I also realized since I last posted that it might be Tottenham Road, not Tottenham Street. Which shows (if you haven't guessed already) that I know next to nothing about London geography. So I'll just tiptoe away quietly, and post again when I'm not so tired.

#353 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 09:40 AM:

A student wrote on a law school exam that a regulation "wouldn't pass constitutional mustard" (as opposed to constitutional muster, which is far less stringent).

It wouldn't quite cut the muster, asyermightsay.

A friend recently returned from Iraq, where (he told us jokingly in a hurriedly-typed email) his unit has become known as "The Terror of the Dessert". It was about ten minutes before someone pointed out that obviously they were not men to be trifled with.

You can't pass up lines like that.

#354 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 10:05 AM:

Lisa Goldstein: It might even be Tottenham Court Road....

#355 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Lisa -- after I moved to AZ I continued to do Locus proofreading for a while, and believe me you have my sympathies! I'm probably too twitchy about "comprised of," but some long-ago English class produced a lasting aversion -- probably due to the prof's defining "comprise" as something like "embrace". Bad as my memory is, some things do stick! And the May issue has so much material crammed in, I can see how a typo or two might slip by. (Pity about the bad continuation page # on one interview, but them's the breaks!) It reminds me of cleaning the catbox -- there's always one extra piece of crap to be found (or not) at the very last minute.

Moving on.... Local pronunciation is a fascinating thing. My husband lost his Mainish accent long ago, but his Mom still sounds just like Flo the diner lady in "Non Sequitur".

#356 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Just to confuse you even more on Tucson, the IATA code is TUS.

So I accidentally taught a travel agent to misspell Tucson. Back before the Internet (1982 or so) I booked round-trip tickets from Harrisburg to Tucson. The travel agent duly typed up the itinerary but put down TUC as the airport code.

I pointed out that Tucson's airport code is TUS, not TUC, and when the tickets were issued the new itinerary had TUS as the airport code, and yet another promo for Tucson's SF convention.

Now that we have the Internet, I looked up TUC: Benjamin Matienzo Airport in Tucuman, Argentina.

#357 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Patrick Connor: A friend of mine was in Mexico, and on reading a brochure at his hotel decided on a whim to visit Oaxaca. However, not speaking Spanish, he pronounced it 'Ox-ah-ca'. He very nearly found himself booked on a flight to Osaka.

#358 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 01:49 PM:

A friend recently returned from Iraq, where (he told us jokingly in a hurriedly-typed email) his unit has become known as "The Terror of the Dessert". It was about ten minutes before someone pointed out that obviously they were not men to be trifled with.

Did he think you were pudding him down?

#359 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 02:02 PM:

I see "wholistic approach" all over the place lately.

#360 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 03:12 PM:

When I was in travel agent school in the 1980s, one of the assignments was to mock-book an itinerary from Tucson (TUS) to Honolulu. One person's result routed the person through Denver (DEN) instead of LAX or SFO. We thought that was odd until we noticed that she'd booked the person to Helena, Montana (HLN) instead of Honolulu (HNL).

Sad to say, Worldwide Travel once caught a real travel agent making a similar error.

Karen

#361 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 03:27 PM:

British place names:

Berwick upon Tweed, on the border between England and Scotland, is pronounced "Berrik".

Lerwick, the main town on the island of Shetland, is pronounced "Lerwick".

I believe it's a piece of convergent linguistic evolution.

- o0o -

dreadful phrase:

Tenderhooks. Gets me every time I see it.

#362 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Faren -- The interview is a whole 'nother thing -- I do those from manuscript pages because they have to go in early. And now it sounds as if I'm making excuses, so I won't post about this again -- no, not even to say which reviewer wrote about "Earth under the alien yolk."

Fragano Ledgister -- Arggggg!

#363 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 05:25 PM:

A whole 'nother thing. That's one of those folk-etymological changes of the kind that gave us 'an apron' (from earlier 'a napron').

'Another' is just a shorthand way of writing 'an other'. If there's a word in the middle, the sandhi-n is not there, so 'a ____ other'. But long ago someone decided that the phrase was actually 'a nother' and now we have things like 'a whole nother'—and probably some people who think that's different from 'a whole other'!

No slam on you, Lisa. It's a long tradition at this point. As well chide you for saying 'apron'!

#364 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Xopher, is "napron" related to "napkin?"

#365 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Karen Funk Blocher -- When I was in travel agent school in the 1980s, one of the assignments was to mock-book an itinerary from Tucson (TUS) to Honolulu. One person's result routed the person through Denver (DEN) instead of LAX or SFO. We thought that was odd until we noticed that she'd booked the person to Helena, Montana (HLN) instead of Honolulu (HNL).

When I was working in San Jose CA (also in the 80s) we lived in terror that somebody doing travel arrangements would suffer a brain seizure and type the obvious SJO instead of SJC. Who needs to go to Costa Rica?

#366 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 07:43 PM:

From the local paper here: "[T]hey've got another thing coming."

--Mary Aileen

#367 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: If ever I'm in La Jolla in the near future, I'll buy you a drink at the Carlos Murphy's at UTC.

#368 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Joann says -
When I was working in San Jose CA (also in the 80s) we lived in terror that somebody doing travel arrangements would suffer a brain seizure and type the obvious SJO instead of SJC. Who needs to go to Costa Rica?

Well, I have been known to book people to Costa Rica in my travel agent days, but only if that's where they needed to go.

Toward the end of my travel agency training, I spent a day at an agency, supposedly observing. The person I was supposed to meet with showed up two hours later, met with me for 15 minutes and left again. He said, "I don't care if you're the class valedictorian [which I was]. You can't be a travel agent fresh out of school, book a trip to La Paz, Bolivia and not screw it up."

Of course I went back to school, booked an itinerary to La Paz, Bolivia (as opposed to La Paz, Mexico), made it autoprice, and went home, satisfied. So there!

#369 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 10:32 PM:

Lori: Yes. They're both diminutives, oddly enough, of an Old French word for 'tablecloth'. Which is derived from Latin 'mappa', which means 'napkin'. They're both related to 'map', too.

#370 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 10:39 PM:

Joann: When I was working in San Jose CA (also in the 80s) we lived in terror that somebody doing travel arrangements would suffer a brain seizure and type the obvious SJO instead of SJC.

When I was going to grad school in Rochester, NY (ROC) there were the invitable stories of international students arriving in Rochester, MN (RST) looking for the University of Rochester and facing a potentially expensive taxi ride.

Thankfully ROC is more intuitive than RST for Rochester.

#371 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 10:50 PM:

probably due to the prof's defining "comprise" as something like "embrace"

The grave is fine on your demise
But don't expect to decomprise.

#372 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:28 PM:

I see them, and they just rattle around in my head . . .

Some I see a lot in which a bit of typography reverses the meaning:
My application was excepted
I was apart of the group

I recently learned that there was a racist group called the Klux Klutz Klan. And I thought those books were innocent fun.

In my part of Appalachia, born-and-bred residents use "I don't care" the way the rest of the English-speaking world uses "I don't mind." One is no more intrinsically logical than the other, but it creates misunderstanding. I heard of a company that moved headquarters from far away; they turned away job applicants for a year before realizing that "I don't care at all to do that" conveys willingness.

Perhaps this is related; it goes in the "kids these days" file anyway: the dreadful absence of syntax in some people's email. Received from a student:
[Name] here would you check my website out I got it working I think it all I can do I have no more time I hope it what you want I tried I thought it was pretty hard but I got something up one link works takes you rite a site and so does the [initials of professional organization, in lower case, natch] one once again thanks for all you have done for me over the semester.
This is a guy who writes perfectly well on a word processor. But writing in email is like a stream-of-consciousness yell into a dark tunnel . . . maybe some message will come out at the other end.

#373 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:30 PM:

Oh, and "pneumonic device" or "pneumatic device" . . . to help with memory. I can't spell mnemonic by heart, so I understand this one. But it makes me think of a backhoe.

#374 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:41 PM:

Oh, by the by, I'm pleased that you culled from my post, but "quaffed" was an eggcorn database one: I was just referencing it.

Re: mid-evil, I frequently see that same one all run together as midevil, or midivel, or medevil. It's pernicious on online fantasy games.

I've seen "serous problem" in a context not referring to serums of any sort. Typo, I'm sure, but funny.

#375 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:45 PM:

I particularly liked one I came across in the free city paper this morning: "it was a grizzly crime."

Exit, pursued by a...

#376 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Oh, and "quite" and "quiet" are homophones here . . . both pronounced "quaat," both ALWAYS spelled "quite."

I know very well that language is always changing, and most of this doesn't matter to most people . . . so, thanks for sharing this gift/curse of noticing what's actually on the page, because so few people I know personally care.

I also know very well that I'm the only one left in this thread.

#377 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 12:17 AM:

I'm not! Hi, folks. I'm going to sleep now.

Re: language change, are we at the point in history when "every day" disappears completely, and "everyday" is both an adjective and a noun phrase? This is one of those things that Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little wrote about above; it creates ambiguity where there used to be a clear distinction.

The gift/curse is not just that this drives me nuts, it's that most people can't even see a difference.

#378 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 12:46 AM:

rm: This is a guy who writes perfectly well on a word processor. But writing in email is like a stream-of-consciousness yell into a dark tunnel . . . maybe some message will come out at the other end.

I recall seeing stuff in the press recently about a study (my search-fu is weak, can't find documentation) that indicated that a certain amount of misspellings and other errors is a status marker in email, and appears in communication from the more powerful to the less.

I've taken to leaving a typo or two (but not introducing any) in my emails, and it seems to help in getting people to do what I want them to.

#379 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 01:38 AM:

A late entry, from a technical discussion board:

"I complete agree with understanding how TCP works and why before implementing your own UDP or even IP based protocol (I'm liking SCTP more & more), but using TCP does not solve the problem, it exuberates it!"

As with many of the other malapropisms, it's oddly correct in its own way.

#380 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 07:37 AM:

Aha! Finally found one:

"Boil a cup of rice and through in some saffron."

#381 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 09:45 AM:

Oooh...

Here's a sheerly awful one I just picked up on the Evil Editor: A character in one of the bad example query letters "was privy to the kingdoms greatest secrets and sword to protect them."

#382 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:08 AM:

rm, you're not the only one in the thread. I don't think I've often seen "everyday" as a noun, so it may have been regionally adapted. I think there are also a few contexts where the usage is unclear. "You don't do those things every day (everyday)" could be a noun usage, or it could mean "You don't do those things in an everyday context," and just be ungrammatical.

Larry Brennan: that's fascinating, and if you do stumble across a link to the study, I'd like to see it. Because I would have guessed the other way around, but I can see a point for it, I suppose, in context of the tradition of being short with one's "lessers" and not bothering to explain oneself.

I would have guessed the other way around because I grew up talking in ten-thousand-dollar words, and learned to adapt to more casual speech styles later, mostly in connection with entering the "lower-middle-class freak" category from the "upper-middle-class academic kid" one.

#383 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:41 AM:

In this morning's Grauniad, reference was made to Ealing as a "bellweather" borough. If I were the writer I'd be rather sheepish. (What would bell weather be, I wonder? Windy enough to ring changes, perhaps.)

#384 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:10 AM:

A headline local paper had a typo the other night that I see all too often: "solider" (as in "solider killed in Iraq").

Since one of the local Catholic parish schools closed its doors, we no longer seem to get "Scared" as in "Scared Heart." Unfortunately, "solider" seems to have replaced it.

#385 ::: nalo ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:32 AM:

Two that I didn't see here (doesn't mean they aren't):

-- Seeing his sister naked was a peek experience.

-- Mrs. Flintlock is a teatotaller. (i.e. someone who totally drinks tea)

#386 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 01:51 PM:

I got a great one in an e-mail today:

"Bubble Bees fly and they are not aerodynamically
equipped to do it."

#387 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Steve Taylor -- "I complete agree with understanding how TCP works and why before implementing your own UDP or even IP based protocol (I'm liking SCTP more & more), but using TCP does not solve the problem, it exuberates it!

"As with many of the other malapropisms, it's oddly correct in its own way.

Ditto the experience I had with a doctor some years back who said, "Don't scratch it, you'll only excoriate the problem!"

#388 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Oh, remembered another one -- I once heard a man say he had a "photogenic memory." One that only remembered pretty things, I guess.

#389 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Almost forgot one of my favorites:

"You know why they don't have those X-ray machines in shoe stores any more? Because they were bad for you -- the X-rays would shine up on your gentile organs."

#390 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 02:22 PM:

"Bubble Bees fly and they are not aerodynamically
equipped to do it."

Speaking of which, I believe that this is the definitive explanation of the Flight of the Bumblebee.

Although that explains nothing about the flight (float?) of the bubble bee.

#391 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Re: "You've got another thing coming". I swear that is how I heard and read the phrase when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, with perhaps an occasional "think", which sounded to my ear like a clever misappropriation.

It wasn't until I read another editor ranting about it (a personal bete noire of his) in a forum just a few years ago that I had the awful truth. Well, I say "awful", but "think" still sounds wrong to me.

I think I'll just never use either variant of the phrase ever again.

#392 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 04:56 PM:

The full quote makes the error clearer: "If they think they're going to force this down our throats, they've got another thing coming."

--Mary Aileen

#393 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 05:54 PM:

non-serious description: 'pornographic memory' (meaning 'obscenely good memory')

I've been seeing a lot of use of 'moral' for 'morale' lately.

#394 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 06:12 PM:

Just found this header on a popular advice column:

KNIT ONE, PEARL TWO

(I'll admit, I assumed that was correct for years.)

#395 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 07:19 PM:

ERs and Urgent Care centers still have fluoroscopes. I get to look at my feet with them sometimes.

#396 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Even though the thread is dying down, I still can't stop myself going over the great list of phrases now collected in the main post and assigning visual imagery to them.

"He clamoured to his feet" -- you just can't stand up quietly in heavy armor.

"He had the patients of an angle" -- a scoliosis specialist.

"Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder" -- final curtain calls can be hard.


There's a Tori Amos song containing the line "alive below the waste." She's very intentional with her double meanings, though.

#397 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:41 PM:

I recall seeing stuff in the press . . . that indicated that a certain amount of misspellings and other errors is a status marker in email, and appears in communication from the more powerful to the less.

Larry, there are some classic studies in sociolinguistics -- William Labov in the 70s, I think -- that show upper-class speakers using non-standard forms, while the upwardly-striving middle class strictly enforces "proper" speech. And over-enforces it, using "hypercorrect" forms like "whom" or "I" when it should be "who" or "me." Rich preppy slackers wear their unearned status lightly, while insecure climbers try too hard to gain approval.

So, I think something like that might go on in email. But that's not what's happening when students treat email like it's IM, even when writing to employers or professors. They just think that this medium has no formatting standards. And they have never written a physically existing letter, except for an assignment in third grade.

Nalo, "teetotally" is used here in Kentucky (a bit east of AY-thens and Ver-SALES), as in "I teetotally don't care at all to do that," meaning "I am totally willing to do that." It's not used often; it's used a little self-consciously as slightly archaic; but it still exists, while in the rest of the world "teetotaller" is the only surviving instance.

Along with "quiet/quite," I notice a very common confusion of "sale/sell." These are also homophones in much of the South. Students write things like "the story was having a sell." They do this even though J.C. Penney is constantly advertising its perpetual SALE! not only on paper, which the young folks seldom read, but on TV.

Quiet, quite; diet Sprite. I'm going to start printing flash cards. If you can spell and say one, you can with the other too. Sale, sell; male Mel. I'm starting to understand the evil temptation to teach prescriptive grammar, even though I know it doesn't work.

While writing about the "quite mouse" and the "50% off sell," they also won't get off my lawn no matter how much I yell. Kids these days.

#398 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:49 PM:

The bell-ringing discussion on another thread reminded me of reading "wring the changes" somewhere.

Boy, I love this thread. Hey -- who turned out the lights? Hello? Hello? Is anyone still here?

#399 ::: JHB ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 01:23 AM:

I can never read these lists without having a Tex Avery-style cartoon run through my head, illustrating the literal meaning...

If I knew any English teachers, I'd suggest they collect these lists and make projects out of finding the correct phrases or terms. But I don't.

#400 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 03:34 PM:

I just have to claim the 400th post in this thread.

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 12:27 AM:

I just had a young friend tell me he made ramen noodles with the "scolding hot water" from the faucet.

I told him scold is cold and scald is caliente.

#402 ::: pip ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 02:24 AM:

reminds me of the history student (ok, it was me) who wrote about the

bearfooted Carmelites

they were nuns who didn't wear shoes :-)

#403 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 01:41 PM:

I'm entirely too entertained by the mental image produced by:

Plus, most of us in the security community tend to view 0-day remotely exploitable bugs with a certain amount of gravity (i.e. not "knit-picking")].

I hadn't realized that most of the people in the security community could knit - never mind needing to spend time unraveling their disasters.

#404 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 10:32 PM:

Re: JHB's post

I do know an English teacher, so I passed on the suggestion. He said:

"These are fun! I may have to use them in class..."

#405 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 02:24 AM:

My almost 101-year old friend this morning was explaining that the Pima Council on Aging shouldn't take pictures of the centenarians at their annual luncheon honoring them. "They should show pictures of them when they were young, along with a biopsy of their accomplishments."

I can't blame Eva's brain for offering the word biopsy there (my brain should work so well at age 100!). Eva is a retired nurse.

#406 ::: Kinsley Castle ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 03:04 AM:

And just because I couldn't resist, here's The Empirical Storm Troopers.

#407 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 10:28 AM:

oh, I didn't see anyone mention using "mute" instead of the correct term "moot". I was going to bring it up earlier in the thread but thought it was a mute point.

#408 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 11:32 AM:

No, Greg. It was a mute point BEFORE you brought it up (except I think someone did mention it). But I'm knitpicking.

#409 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Another one. Someone named MadTom, on Healing Iraq: "The point I was trying to make was about public (straight) sediments on the gay issues..."
Sediments. Eeesh.

#410 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 01:04 PM:

oop. yep. I searched for "moot" but not "mute". grrr.

As for "sediments", maybe he was thinking of doing some mud slinging?

#411 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 01:50 PM:

Xopher: When I was at high school we used 'sediment' as a deliberate substitute for 'sentiment'.

#412 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 02:06 PM:

Okay, one more, from a book I proofread -- "a regiment of diet and exercise." The book was by someone who gave lectures about health, so presumably he pronounced it this way, "t" included, and no one ever corrected him.

"Okay, vegetables, march! Hey, where you going, broccoli?"

#413 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 03:14 PM:

This just in from a final exam:

Many years ago, before government was formed, people had to live on their own reconnaissance.

#414 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 03:35 PM:

"a regiment of diet and exercise"

Monstrous.

#415 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 04:03 PM:

IIrc, "regiment" used as "regiment of diet and exercise" would have been correct in the 16th and 17th centuries.

This fails to excuse Lisa's presumably 20th century author, but it's interesting nonetheless.

#416 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 04:21 PM:

John M. Ford: You're not, by any chance, channelling John Knox?

#417 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Up from the word mines:

"The problem was that was the voting ballads where unreliable and contained falsies."

#418 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 05:36 PM:

I thought he was channeling Terry Pratchett...

#419 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Melissa: Obviously, Pratchett was channelling Knox who wrote A Counterblaste of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 06:43 PM:

More from the word mines:

"Change first started coming about during the First World War when women were given jobs as nurses, bus drivers, and railway partners. This made many womens confidence grow and change their usual habits."

#421 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 07:44 PM:

From final exams:

hand's on training
safe confinds
randomality
fender binders

I won't criticise outright misspellings like "princables," because that's another topic. I like "fender binders" (more Southern homophones).

In one of my posts above, I wrote "story" when I meant "store." For all have sinned and fallen short.

#422 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 08:13 PM:

'Fender binders' sounds as if the cars got stuck together.

We all make mistakes,I agree, but some mistakes are entertaining.

#423 ::: Meghan Toffey ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 08:37 PM:

An officemate of my daughter's saw her neighbor's house catch fire, and told Sarah that it (the house) "went up like a cinderblock.."

#424 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Just found this description: 3-foot Ring Tale Diamondback rattlesnake

It's from Middle Earth, perhaps?

#425 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 01:40 PM:

More fun from Evil Editor:

"Jallend, vampire, self-proclaimed artist, and humanities judge and jury..."

"Once I jump that hurtle..."

#426 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Humanities judge and jury?

"You are not hanging that THING in MY artshow!!!!

#427 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 02:12 PM:

"

#428 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2006, 12:02 PM:

Oh, my. There are exceptions to every rule.

#429 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 09:42 PM:

mitigate against

#430 ::: dagny ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2006, 08:25 AM:

'Surviving the Eminent Holocaust' was in a script I proofread last week.
And on the topic of Marias, Shakespeare uses ma-RYE-ah as the correct pronunciation.

#431 ::: David King ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2006, 10:27 AM:

Sometimes people realize they may not fully understand the phrase. An undergraduate wrote on a philosophy examination, "it is like the Golden Rule:do un to others as you would have them do un to you. Is "un" a word?"

#432 ::: Mike Whitaker ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 08:46 AM:

Pet peeve, and I'm pretty sure this is as much a unversal Americanism as it is wrong:

"The plane will land momentarily."

If that looks right to you, note that 'momentarily' is 'FOR a moment', not "IN a moment'.

#433 ::: Sherwood Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Some of them make it into general useage when the first one is no longer understood, like "butt naked." No one says "buck naked" any more. And butt naked does make sense!

#434 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Sherwood, many of them make a kind of sense. That's why some of them are funny.

I see your point though. There is this word 'bareass', which is probably what people think 'butt naked' is euphemizing.

This is a process of linguistic change called "folk etymology."

#435 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 11:30 AM:

David King: That's a good 'un!

Mike Whittaker: It does land momentarily. Then it bounces up, lands momentarily again, and finally lands for a long time (prior to taxiing to the gate). Haven't you ever ridden in a plane? [g]

#436 ::: Dani ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Coincidentally, I ran across one of these today that I've never seen before - the "rampant dog."

#437 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 02:33 PM:

So help me, this is a headline in my Yahoo Kansas City news rack....

"KU Med. Center Defends Its Brain-Dead Tests"

I did not look to see if it was that way in the KC Star today or yesterday, but it could also hae been generated from the KMBC news writers (TV).

Yikes!

#438 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Mike Whittaker, you've never heard of "touch and go"?

#439 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Back in the late 90s, I worked in the great metropolis of Morehead, KY. One spring day, straight line winds blew down trees, blew off roofs, and did assorted other damage. That week's issue of the local catbox liner reported that the governor had asked president Clinton to 'declare Morehead a federal disaster' (rather than 'disaster area'). My first thought was that, while dismal, it wasn't quite that bad.

#440 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 05:17 PM:

Spotted over at Languagehat:

My old washing machine, hes given up the goat

Simply lovely, as is the explanation the speaker gives for using that particular word.

#441 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Some cool stuff there. But we were doing it first!

I mentioned over there that when I was a child, I thought my mother was using a Yiddish expression when she said "Yezhuhshmaddiya." But once I found out how it's spelled, I concluded that it was not likely Yiddish. 'Jesus Maria'.

#442 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 08:11 PM:

But we were doing it first!

Well, that's debatable. I think Language Log has ML beat by three years, give or take.

But I think this thread has beat everyone else for sheer size.

#443 ::: Jing Mei ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 10:47 PM:

Some I came across when proofing (English was not her native tongue):

embroidered in battle
the girl's new outfit was electrical
he slashed cream across her new dress

#444 ::: david ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2006, 11:32 PM:

I'll be waiting with baited breath for more examples.

#445 ::: Deborah Roggie ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 08:09 AM:

Found another one this morning in an article on "The DaVinci Code." A preacher would like to "ring the author's neck."

#446 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:49 PM:

An old one, spotted today on the Well:

"It's like an Alcatraz around my neck."

--Boston mayor Menino on the shortage of city parking spaces

#447 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:41 AM:

Just saw this one: "He is not aloud to say a word."

#448 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Xopher: I see that one pretty frequently. I also see 'apart of' for 'a part of' a great deal, and grit my teeth every time.

#449 ::: toby ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 01:04 AM:

thanks for piquing my curiosity and making me laugh until I cried

#450 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 09:02 AM:

O gods. "...an outer body experience"!!!!!!!

Gag.

#451 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 10:38 AM:

"succame" as past tense of succumb.

#452 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 11:04 AM:

Erik...they HAD to be kidding, right? Please tell me they were kidding!

#453 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 12:02 PM:

I'm gonna start using "succame."

#454 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 01:53 PM:

succumb == have an orgasm from oral sex?

"Oh! Oh! I'm gonna...succumb!"

#455 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 02:36 PM:

'Succame' sounds like an artificial sweetener.

Xopher: Thank goodness I wasn't drinking anything.

#456 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 11:58 AM:

David King, I believe I can explain that usage:

He laughed at the joke. "Good 'un," he said.
I think there's a good chance that your student thinks the saying is:
Do one to others as you would have them do one to you.

#457 ::: Jery Kaufman ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 06:05 PM:

My mom frequently mangles difficult proper names (her doctor is Kapanjie, but she calls him "Kapanzik") and all sorts of words and phrases.

She says, in explanation, "Just call me Mrs. Malatrot."

#458 ::: Julia Jones sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 07:05 PM:

Spam at 458 as I write this.

#459 ::: Tye ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2007, 09:16 PM:

I am very late to the party, but I couldn't let this one escape notice. The writer asked his readers not to cow toe to people who recommended that Don Imus be fired.

#460 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:17 AM:

Yet, people are forever saying that others should (or shouldn't) tow the line, instead of toeing it.

Tho' I thought it was pronounced more like cow tao (towe?), i.e. rhymes with how now brown cow. Interesting mental image, that.

#461 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:32 AM:

My personal pet dæmon is the font/fount eggcorn, but that's mainly because of the embarrassing moment long ago when I learned about it the hard way. (That page also mentions the chomping/champing eggcorn, which I suspect is a little bit more forgivable than the already quite forgivable "font of knowledge" error. I certainly don't think reasonable people should go non-linear over the font/fount thing. It's just my little bit of irrationality.)

#462 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Just stumbled across one while glancing at a legal filing. Two apparently different people are "one in the same."

#463 ::: Tye ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 02:03 AM:

A friend wrote from Laos, describing the ongoing process of disarming unexploded ordinance remaining from the Vietnam War.

#464 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 01:48 PM:

I very much dislike, "burying the lede."

Lede is a noun that means a people or race.

"Burying the lead," means burying the lead paragraph!

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest!

#465 ::: Marty in Boise ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Here's one from a student essay on drug policy: "Many meth users become pair annoyed..."

#466 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 03:32 PM:

Mike Whitaker @#432: Language Hat (or rather, his commenters) covered that use of "momentarily" while he was discussing "hopefully".

Susan @#359: "wholistic" is actually semi-correct, in that it's at least using the English cognate for the root.

Xopher: I can't reach your 9CL comic: it's too old for the free archives.

#467 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 04:21 PM:

David, nearly two years later I have no idea what that was. Sorry.

#468 ::: Lee sees italics running amok ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Something appears to be weird after comment #267.

#469 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 05:34 PM:

Actually, Lee, many old threads have been italicized. I noticed that a couple of days ago, I think.

#470 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 06:27 PM:

It's fine in Mozilla. I note that the first line of 267 is italicized. Maybe someone forgot to close a tag?

#471 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2008, 08:22 PM:

Mary Aileen #470:

I note that the first line of 267 is italicized.

Like me, here, quoting you?

#472 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2008, 09:30 AM:

joann (471): Exactly.

#473 ::: hilo ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 06:17 AM:

One I found today:
"no wonder why we are the laughing stalk of the world."

#474 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 07:49 AM:

I've been seeing "per say" for per se a lot recently.

#475 ::: princeton73 ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 12:43 PM:

when too many NFL teams finish at 8-8 or 9-7, fans complain about "too much parody in football"

I've always liked "foisted by his own petard"

#476 ::: Mary Aileen sees old spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 11:57 AM:

term paper spam at 476

#477 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 12:55 PM:

We can't have a thread with a "spam deleted" massage as the last post.

"Leaning on windmills" for "tilting at windmills" (I wish I had saved the cite). Apparently Don Quixote isn't as well known as it was.

#478 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 12:52 PM:

It's worth noting that linguistic reanalysis, also called an eggcorn, mondegreen, or pullet surprise, was also discussed in Open Thread 37.

I'm still fond of the second-level reanalysis "a dog y dog world".

#479 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2009, 04:54 PM:

A Mondegreen is more specific than an eggcorn, because a Mondegreen is only a mishearing of a song lyric.

#480 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2009, 08:01 PM:

This afternoon I heard a Katrina survivor say that he'd lived in FEMA trailers, tents, and "Kwanzaa huts."

#481 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2009, 08:21 AM:

Xopher@483

The Heathen! Doesn't he know he should refer to them as Christmas huts?

:-)

#482 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2009, 05:18 AM:

Another one for the list: a full-pledged author.

#483 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2010, 10:51 PM:

Encountered in the wilds of Facebook:

"listening serupticiously"

#484 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2010, 11:56 PM:

In a candidate's bio for elective office in King County, WA:

"During my teenier as Chair I increased our partnerships with Landowners within King County either privately or entity owned."

The rest is similarly infelicitous, but that one is egregious.

http://www.kingcd.org/elect/new_ele_2010-candidates-prinsen.htm if you don't believe me. And this fellow got the endorsement of the Sierra Club, among others!

#485 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2010, 03:52 AM:

Oh, and Teresa, WRT There was a black and blue striped toboggan pulled over her head: This is a regionalism, of the area around Louisville, KY and maybe some other areas. They use "toboggan" to mean what Wikipedia calls a tuque (which is a word I'd never heard before) and what most people I know would just call a knit cap. Startles the heck out of me every time I see it.

#486 ::: Jon Meltzer sees dreadful sales spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 09:09 AM:

No sale.

#487 ::: Matthew Platte ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 09:36 PM:

"Viola! (TexAnne)"

Around these parts, in the mid 20th Century, a fella by the name of Viola had a thriving general store, shoe repair business, hardware store, gas station and fireworks stand. For us kids, the civilized Eurotrash word naturally became localized to "Viola!"

#488 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 10:12 PM:

If you're still taking submissions, one of my favourites is:

"He lay prostate on the ground."

#489 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:02 PM:

There's a Professionals fan fiction story that referred to George Cowley (who was indeed Scots) as a "bonnified Scotsman." Which we decided must have meant he wore full kilt and bonnet in the story.

#490 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 01:27 AM:

I'm not sure whether I submitted this one elsewhere or not, but there was one particular slashfic I ran across which talked about a character having a bugle in his pants.

The images this prompted quite jolted me out of the moment. "Is that a brass section in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?" was the least of the comments my rather perverted brain came up with.

#491 ::: Shawna ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:15 AM:

vocation bible school

(Spoken, to my great dismay. My guy says this and it drives me nuts. My daughter attended five different VBS weeks this summer... and that's probably enough said.)

#492 ::: Affenschmidt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 06:32 AM:

More eggcorn-like than a dreadful phrase: many years ago my grandfather's secretary (in Cambridge, MA) told him there was "an Eastern potentate" on the line, one Maguna Rufa. It turned out to be Magoun, the roofer (a man with a thick enough accent that even she, a native daughter with the sort of local accent that sounds mostly like the general American accent but pronounces "can't" as "cahnt," couldn't quite penetrate it).

#493 ::: Atlatl Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:35 AM:

One that I committed while writing a psychological evaluation, but which I thankfully caught during proofreading:

"The client denies having visual, auditory, or tactical hallucinations."

#494 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:47 AM:

What, they were strategic hallucinations?

#495 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:42 AM:

Megpie71 #494: "Beans, beans, the musical fruit..."

#496 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:43 AM:

Back in 1989, when I was carrying out my first field research in Belize, I read in a Belizean newspaper of the distinction between "bonified customers" and those who were not. Clearly, the word meant those who had genuine bones added to them. As opposed to the totally limp fakers.

#497 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:30 AM:

Oh, if you're taking new ones...

"she stood in the lake up to her waste"

#498 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:49 AM:

Lee @488: my in-laws in Chattanooga also call a winter cap a "toboggan," so I think it's a widespread southern regionalism. Yes, it is weird to me. Not just that they call it that, but that people wear them when it's 40 degrees F.

A toboggan, of course, is really a specific kind of sled -- one that's flat and wooden and is curled up in the front.

#499 ::: londonbard ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:50 AM:

Found when proofreading a friend's essay, "His arguments are known to be circumcised…"

(Should I have told her not to take short cuts?)

#500 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:05 AM:

Matthew Platte @ #491: Walt Kelly's parody of Mickey Spillane, "The Bloody Drip Writhes Again", features "Viola Voila, girl insect".

#501 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:26 AM:

What a great find this list is; today started off rocky but then I've spent the last twenty minutes trying not to disturb others with my laughter.

On another note, my pedantic side would like me to mention that "democracy is running rabid in the Middle East" and "malice of forethought" are both on the list twice (though, in fairness, sourced to different people).

#502 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Fragano@500: When I was about to graduate high school, 19 years ago, one of the Armed Forces sent a recruitment letter claiming that I could pursue a high-paying career with them if I had a bonified diploma.

I did not ossify the diploma, content to pursue a lower-paying career outside the military.

#503 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:50 PM:

I can only read five or six of these in a row before my brain begins to curl up into a ball and refuse to go on.

#504 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:12 PM:

Shawna #495: That's another one that would seem to be rooted in related meanings... folks with a vocation might well want some advanced bible study! (I assume it was meant to be "vacation"?)

#505 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:55 PM:

rm @502: I grew up in NC and only ever used the word "toboggan" to mean that sort of knitted hat. I was always aware that there was a sled of the same name, but its main meaning to me was, and still is, the hat. No one ever discusses the sled around here.

I am aware that Yankees think this is ridiculous. Me, I find it a perfectly cromulent usage. It's rather synecdochal.

#506 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:55 PM:

I have just met (online) a person who uses a great many, shall we say, personal spellings. I liked especially "I don't make that distention" (distinction, I'm pretty sure).

Okay, and here's a comment that is actually a comment: "Prostate on the ground" is like "balls to the wall", only rotated 90 degrees.

#507 ::: Atlatl Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Lohdonbard @503 That reminds me of an old Internet posting of student errors, one of which was "Sir Frances Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper."

#508 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:25 PM:

A major fantasy writer, who I won't name, uses venial instead of venal. Repeatedly.

#509 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:40 PM:

There's also a major fantasy writer (I think a different one) who seems to've embarked on a one-person crusade to use "wroth" as a noun, as in "his wroth shall be terrible."

It makes me wroth.

That, and seeing the word "loyal" inconsistently replaced with the archaic spelling "leal" in the same book; there's one case where both spellings are used within a single paragraph. (Partially explicable wrt using one spelling when the adjective is directly attached to a noun and a different spelling when the adjective is used as a predicate, except that isn't completely consistent either.)

#510 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:36 PM:

"We should stop taking this for granite."

Some cautionary words from stonemasons?

#511 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 12:42 AM:

rm, #502: I've had other people claim that it's a widespread Southernism. However, in 26 years of living in Nashville and traveling widely around the South for cons, SCA events, and contradance weekends, I don't ever recall hearing anyone use it. I suppose that could be because it's a specialized seasonal item, but that area does get nasty winter weather now and then. You'd think somebody would have said it in my hearing, or I'd have read it in a news story, and that usage would have been weird enough for me to remember it.

I have one online acquaintance who consistently spells "evil" as "evile". I have no idea whether she thinks of this as a portmanteau word or if she just doesn't grok the correct spelling.

#512 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:09 AM:

Seen on my Twitter stream this very morning: "you peaked my curiosity".

#513 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:14 AM:

I have a little list of my own. There is a certain amount of overlap. I have decided, however, to not add the new ones to my list until I encounter them in the wild, as it were. I find that adding a new one to my list often takes some of the sting out.

That said, I do want to add one I encountered often in certain fanfic: "Court Marshalls" for "Courts Martial."

#514 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:55 AM:

abi @516: "and you are about to loose my interest"

#515 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 08:49 AM:

Anyone wanna get into the difference between "alter" and "altar"? How about rain/rein/reign?

#516 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:44 AM:

"Please bare with me."

#517 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:59 AM:

That'll be tough, Serge--I don't know where you live. Plus, you're married.

#518 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:05 AM:

I can't tell you how many romance novels I've had cross my desk with "naval" in place of "navel" in sex scenes.

Also, people seem to have no idea of the difference between "flare" and "flair."

#519 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:10 AM:

Carrie S @ 521... Heheheh... That actually is something once said to me in an email by a co-worker from Ukraine 1000 miles away from my office. I think she blushed when I delicately pointed out the misspelling.

#520 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:12 AM:

--E @ 522...

"Sometimes a mast is just a mast."
- Mutiny on the Bountiful

#521 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:00 AM:

Here, here.

#522 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:01 AM:

--E @522 I can't tell you how many romance novels I've had cross my desk with "naval" in place of "navel" in sex scenes.

We had related jokes when my husband worked at the Naval Research Lab.

#523 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:17 AM:

Theophylact@504: Ah, yes. The temptress in a teaspot.

Man, where is my copy of that book? [scurries off]

#524 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:37 PM:

Somehow this whole time "another words" has been missed...

Also, I'd like to note that unfortunately Raven McCracken, the author of an old RPG set in Synnibarr, was both extremely susceptible to these and unable (it seems) to afford a proofreader. The result being that The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide for Synnibarr was chock-full of these, sometimes several different ones on a single page. My basic Synnibarr book is packed away, so I can't see if it also is, but I've just finished (re)reading tUAG, so it came directly to mind on seeing this thread.

--Dave "lone/loan" DeLaney

#525 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 03:06 PM:

David DeLaney #528:

The Loan Ranger ("Hiho, Silver!") might actually work as an idea.

#526 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 04:09 PM:

I got a note from my daughters' choir director welcoming new and currant members to choir this fall.

#527 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 04:30 PM:

melissa @ 530... Is that an achoired taste?

#528 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 04:43 PM:

welcoming new and currant members to choir

Bet they'll be raisin the roof.

#529 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:19 PM:

I once heard someone use the phrase "optical delusion.". I'm still not sure whether this was intentional or not.

Re the long-ago mentioned discreet/discrete confusion, there is a wealth of fun in that one. I once had a discrete math class, which I joked was just like any other math, except you never show your work to anyone. And of course if you want to study cryptography or steganography, you will need a solid background in discreet math.

This whole thread is making me think of that wonderful Dave Barry book full of misheard song lyrics.

#530 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:30 PM:

albatross, #533: Huh. I didn't know Dave Barry had written a book about that; the three I have are by Gavin Edwards. And then of course there's Kissthisguy.com, which collects and indexes mondegreens...

#531 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 06:04 PM:

Lee @ #534, there's one chapter about misheard lyrics in Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs.

#532 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 06:20 PM:

This very morning I came across a blurb about abook set in a bleak dystopian future in which the authorities strictly prohibit "any deviation from the proscribed path".

#533 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 06:32 PM:

Vanilla envelopes.
"Reality" for "Realty"

#534 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:50 PM:

Evan @536.

So obeying the law is a crime? Very bleak and dystopian indeed.

J Homes.

#535 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:27 AM:

Lizzie L@10, Leigh Butler@50, Renee@53, Sharon Mock@158, Carrie S@519:

The other year, we had a candidate for local office whose campaign literature promised that, if elected, he would "reign in spending."

#536 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 08:56 AM:

Lighthill:

I expect he did just that, if elected....

#537 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:52 PM:

I just saw "test your medal" on a screen at the gym. I've seen "test your metal" before, but this one's new.

#538 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:36 PM:

Wheel it in (when the writer clearly meant "reel it in").

#539 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:48 PM:

In our local newspaper, who must not be named, because they are not nice or happy people, there was a caption under a picture with the word "supposably" in it. I know newspaper circulation is down across the continent, but can they not afford spell check?

#540 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:51 PM:

Oh, and I hate to say it, but one of my favorite authors always uses "undo influence" at least once in every single book and she's written a boatload.

#541 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:15 PM:

The sewing shop had many regular costumers.

Soddenly, I fell into a mud puddle.

He left a successful career in reality to enter politics.

#542 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:17 PM:

Xopher, 541:

Did you see them medaling with the language as you peddled your exercise bike?

#543 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:57 PM:

"Enough of this postering!"

#544 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:59 PM:

The LA Times has a link to a story about Area 51 that, for several days, had people 'towing the company line'. (They've corrected it.)

#545 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:40 PM:

"But the issue I'd like to hone in on is...." GAAHHH!!

#546 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:47 PM:

This-all gives me naked-in-public nightmares. I was historically a really bad speller (sob story told elsewhere). I try really really hard to get it right, but I'm pretty confident that my Internet presence is littered with these throughout.

I try to console myself that probably nobody has actually died as a result.

#547 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:06 PM:

A spelling rather than a phonetic miss, but I have come to wonder if anyone, anywhere, ever spells rogue correctly ("he was quite the rouge"). Gah!

#548 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:45 PM:

L. Sprague de Camp spelled "rogue" correctly, but his publishers didn't always do so (leading to a book whose spine said "Rouge Queen", which is not quite what he had in mind).

#550 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:44 AM:

(previous in response to Jacque @ 549)

#551 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:39 AM:

Many moons ago--say, 1968 or 1969--I bought a couple of slim paperbacks through the Weekly Reader. One was called Then Some Other Stuff Happened and was a "history" of the Untied (heh) States based on actual student essays, featuring such greats as Davy Crochet and Potahoncas; the title of the other escapes me, but it was a similar collection of student errors like "He looked at the world through morose-colored glasses" and "They went to New York to see the Statute of Liberty".

I'll have to see if I still have them stashed someplace, as I could use a good laugh right about now.

#552 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 07:44 AM:

It's easy for most of us to laugh. After all, that's part of what Mrs. Malaprop was created for. And most of what I see in this thread is malapropism, rather than the dreadful phrases we see at this moment in time.

But a good chunk is, I think, down to the automatic spelling checking, which pays little or no attention to the meaning of words. The computers do not check our spelling, they make our malapropisms.

#553 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 11:11 AM:

Dave Bell, #556:

When I was in grad school, and responsible for the grading of undergraduate papers, I told the students that I would count off if they didn't use a spell-checker, but that if it was obvious that they hadn't paid attention to what the spell-checker was doing, I'd count off.

#554 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:12 PM:

Syd, #555: I know some people who look at the world thru morose-colored glasses. It's a very irritating thing to be exposed to.

#555 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:24 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @541: Isn't that supposed to be "test your mettle"?

#556 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:09 PM:

I know some people who look at the world thru morose-colored glasses

Eeyore

#557 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:47 AM:

The fascinating thing is, I've found myself typing phonetically lately in the rare-ish event that I'm posting in a state of total exhaustion. Or with a migraine, or on serious painkillers.

When I get to seeing the word I just typed and go "what‽" and fix it; my internal editor doesn't go away (I can get migraines bad enough not to care that I'm making typos - or, rather, leave them in out of a sense of honest disclosure of the condition in which I'm attempting to communicate - but I never reach the point where I don't see them.) But, in those extremes of out-of-it-ness, my fingers have been known to respond to my mind's ear and not my mind's eye.

Under normal circumstances, I'm enough of a text-based thinker that I can't actually remember hearing a word I don't know how to spell. So it's puzzling in the extreme to have my fingers attempt to spell something phonetically when my brain knows perfectly well how the word is actually spelled. Almost a synaesthetic phenomenon.

#558 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:30 AM:

A.J. Luxton #561: Hmm. Whereas I tend to either type homonyms, or turn a typo into a genuine-but-wrong word. If I finish a word that's not spelled correctly, I know I'm really out of it. (However, apostrophes and other punctuation don't count -- I need to check that separately.)

#559 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:47 AM:

Rob Rusick @ #559:

I read Xopher as saying "test your metal" was more familiar (in his experience), but no more correct.

#560 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 08:06 AM:

Rob 559, Paul 563 has it right. 'Test your metal' is the more common error.

#561 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:35 AM:

One I've seen a rash of recently is "Changing tact" or "To take a different tact".

#562 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:46 AM:

Then there's the band and the circumstance, "dire straights", which brings all sorts of amusing images to mind.

#563 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:26 AM:

'Track houses' is one I've seen. (Even with a correctly-spelled example right in front of them, they still get it wrong.)
On the other hand, the matching (and common) misspelling of 'duct tape' is now a brand name.

#564 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:52 AM:

Actually, P J, duck is a fine cotton fabric that was the original backing of the tape in question. 'Duct tape' is a folk etymology.

#565 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 11:02 AM:

Xopher, I know the fabric. It makes great grocery bags, being sturdy. (As a tape backing, it's a bit heavy.)

#566 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 11:50 AM:

A very common verbal error reported by my partner, who used to be a Volkswagen parts manager: "Quantrum" for the model called "Quantum". As mentioned above, even while looking right at a properly-spelled example.

#567 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 02:42 PM:

Relatedly, I frequently get called 'Mary Ann' or 'Mary Alice' by people who've seen my name written, and 'Mary Ellen' by people who've mainly heard it. Even the ones who parse it correctly have a tendency to spell it 'Mary Eileen'--even when they have the correct spelling right in front of them or have seen it multiple times.

#568 ::: sarak ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:22 PM:

Neighbourhood newspaper in DC had an ad in the realty section for "Gentile Living". We decided they meant genteel and called to let the paper know about the problem.

#569 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:23 PM:

#566 ::: NelC

Then there's the band and the circumstance, "dire straights", which brings all sorts of amusing images to mind.

I thought a dire straight is one you foolishly think you can fill.

#570 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:45 PM:

This is a typo of some sort rather than a genuine misuse, but I was still amused to read, in the description of an audio bible, that between chapters and books there were pieces of scared music.

#571 ::: londonbard ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:06 PM:

"She wore heavy make-up and her hair was died."

"He was payed unkind" (that was in an otherwise well-written piece and, in context, he was probably paid in kind.)

#572 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:08 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #571: even though I wear a name tag at work, I get called (for example) "Lola" or "Lil".

#573 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:18 PM:

As he navigated the boat through the inland waterway, he was realizing that he was drawing towards an inside strait.

#574 ::: Nicole Fitzhugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 12:23 AM:

Someone on a discussion board for one of my college classes posted a comment about a pyridine shift in thinking. Apparently pyridine is a chemical compound. I didn't think spellcheckers were that smart.

#575 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 06:22 AM:

David Harmon @ 562: Oh, it usually goes to an actual word, be it a homonym or near-homonym. My typing is apparently programmed into my head in word-shaped blocs. (One idiosyncratic one that's been coming up lately is "ov" for "of". I blame that on the Temple ov Psychick Youth and a number of people I used to hang out with who were into their spelling modifications.)

Oh, gods. I suppose that means that sleep-dep turns me into a bad autocorrect. Jesus Crust!

Oh, oh, here's a new one from weepingcock: "remove the garment off her lithe wonton form."

I'm pretty sure I've seen "wonton" used for "wanton" more than once, come to think of it.

#576 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 06:50 AM:

Two I just saw in the same sentence: 'social piranha' and 'pier group'.

#577 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:11 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 579: You had me at "lithe wonton form"; now my tummy hurts. I can't wait until Ed gets home from work so I can share the awesomeness and make his tummy hurt.

#578 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:53 AM:

On the margins of topicality, but still...

I used to work in a school which had, for various reasons, a big problem with literacy skills. It also had a very image-conscious management. So a decree was duly made, one year, that no pupil work should be put on display until it had been computer-checked, teacher-checked, and re-written appropriately.

The same year, I was setting up the equipment for the science tables on Open Day. Looking up, I saw a small wall of project posters, in which each student had selected a different chemical element for discussion.

Pride of place was given to a poster headed, in the most enormous tabloid-style font, 'Ag. SLIVER'.

I was, allegedly, the first person to have noticed.

#579 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:55 AM:

Erik Nelson #577: LOL!

#580 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:08 AM:

Many years ago, during a drought, one of the reservoirs where I was living was dry at the bottom, so people were trying out their 4x4s in it. One got stuck, and, according to the local paper, had to be pulled out by tow trucks with wenches.

#581 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:12 AM:

P J Evans (584): As evidence of how stubborn this kind of thing is, I first tried to correct that to 'wrenches', before coming up with 'winches'. Although I'm not sure why a local reporter would have wenches on the brain, so that that was the first word that sprang to hir mind.

#582 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:13 AM:

NelC 580: What's wrong with 'social piranha'? Sounds like a decent metaphor to me. Though I can see why its use makes 'pier group' especially funny.

#583 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Xopher (586): I'm guessing 'social piranha' was supposed to be 'social pariah'. A very different concept!

#584 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 11:38 AM:

On the subject of newspapers and spell checkers, or lack of same, I stopped even considering reading the local "Daily News" when the following was found on a front page story:

blah blah blah blac-
k blah blah

I managed to get myself taken off the "call every three months to subscribe to the Daily News" list when I told the caller I didn't have a bird.
...pause... Caller asked, cautiously, what does having a bird have to do with subscribing to the Daily News?
Says me, because the Daily News is only good for lining a bird cage... and I don't have a bird.
Then I explained about the hyphenation of "black". Never heard from them again.

#585 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 12:37 PM:

588
That's software that isn't smart. (I've seen hyphenation like that in other places. Programmers who can't put in exception lists, probably.)

#586 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 01:20 PM:

I got taken off the call list for the Democratic Party when they called asking for money and I said "Not one dime since you joined the stupid lawsuit by the Republican Party to eliminate the Open Primary in Washington State. When we have something resembling an open primary again then I might do so." I'm pleased to note that thanks to the efforts of the Grange, whose efforts set up the Open Primary system in the first place, we now have a Two Highest Vote-Getters system which the state Republican and Democratic parties hate even worse than they hated Open Primaries.

#587 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 01:30 PM:

Just this moment encountered in a comment: "We gauge XXX Inc., the company American taxpayers bailed out, and pass the savings on to you!" where gouge was meant.

What I find especially ironic is that the word "gauge", when it's used to mean measure or estimate, is one of the most frequently misspelled words ever.

#588 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 05:35 PM:

PJ Evans @589: On behalf of my dad, I will tell you what he told me: when he and his co-workers wrote the Atex newspaper-typesetting hyphenation code in the mid-1970s, they had a very limited amount of... memory? Anyway, the limitations of the system were such that they weren't able to make the code as flexible and intelligent as it needed to be to get hyphenation 100% right the way a clever human typesetter could have. He reminded me of this whenever I fussed at him upon finding screwy hyphenation in the newspaper.

Of course, I believe Atex is now obsolete as well, so I don't know what the CURRENT excuse for crappy hyphenation is. Probably, as you say, poor programming.

#589 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:23 PM:

"The other books in the series are a working progress..."

From the author of the vanity/scam published abomination that appeared on my desk this morning.

#590 ::: Eric Walker ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 11:38 PM:

I am surprised not to have yet seen "out in the toolies" mentioned.

#591 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:17 AM:

From a newspaper article on leaf-peeping in Vermont post-Irene: Many parts of the state our unaffected.

#592 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:29 AM:

Bruce@590, does this belong in a different thread, like Open Thread 163? (Aside from that, if you think the Democrats and Republicans hate a Two Highest Vote-Getters voting system, you should see how the Greens and Libertarians and other minor parties feel about getting shut out of the general election. On the other hand, it does mean I occasionally get to vote in what's effectively the Democratic primary without having to be a Democrat.)

#593 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:24 PM:

Bill Stewart: Bruce@590, does this belong in a different thread, like Open Thread 163?

It was in direct response to Lyn D's comment at #588. Do you think I should have gone into Open Thread 163 and started my post with "in response to Lyn D's comment #588 in 'Dreadful Phrases?'" If so, the Open Threads could get unwieldy very quickly...

#594 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:09 PM:

Seen on FB today (re Texas wildfires)

"High winds, year long drought, the whole state is timber."

#595 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:13 PM:

"...Antigens are compounds that may or may not illicit an immune response..."
- from issue 45:3 of the SFWA Bulletin

#596 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:11 AM:

Bruce@597 - Oh, sorry, I'd missed the connection when I'd read through it. Yeah, it really does follow directly, but I was focusing on the wrong part...

#597 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Xopher @486: 'Social piranha' is a perfectly cromulent phrase, which I hope to have the opportunity to use before I forget it. But the context (I wish I could find the post again) made it clear that it was meant to be 'social pariah'.

#598 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:56 AM:

"Rapid believers" (instead of "rabid") -- probably a typo, but still strange....

#599 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Just heard on the radio: "security precautions take precedent." That guy speaks very clearly, and I'm pretty convinced I didn't mishear.

#600 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:34 PM:

Seen on naked capitalism today: most managers tend to have psychopathic tenancies

#601 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:44 PM:

Howard Cosell once said that someone was "among one of your more nearly unique football coaches."

#602 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:21 PM:

My parents took a speed-reading course once, and described it to a neighbor as 'rapid reading'.
The neighbor heard it as 'rabbit breeding'.

#603 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:00 PM:

Another I just saw: 'The Navy SEALS in particular are better flushed out as three dimensional characters'

#604 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:04 AM:

Sighted (or is that "cited") in the wild:

"The present economic system is floored".

#605 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:47 PM:

"I mean what is the wrist that is going to happen"

Just seen on Scalzi's blog, a commenter talking about how he doesn't have to listen to anyone else.

#606 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:13 PM:

OK, he's now blaming the autocorrect on his tablet. Riiiiight. :-) (Actually I believe him.)

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:30 PM:

610
It could have autocorrected in a different way, and he could have made the wurst of a bad situation.

#608 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:41 PM:

I'm awed that you give me sausage a piece of wisdom.

#609 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:49 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue #609: typical troll -- he's on someone else's blog, but only playing with himself.

#610 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:53 PM:

612
Sometimes I hotdog for fun. Or something. (Sorry, I had to sit through a 2-1/2 hour meeting this morning. Mostly it was technicalities.)

#611 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:55 PM:

Today's WashPo: "As it turns out, soldiers, Marines,...have the kind of cache that companies want."

#612 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:09 PM:

In addition to reporting that rain wrecks havoc on the schedule of the US Open, the Tennis Channel is now blaming the whole mess on "inclimate weather."

#613 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:31 PM:

From today's paper, a review of Ke$has's "sleazy" concert, where she "worked her way into pure, unadulterated dirt as though she was to the manor born."

#614 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 08:39 PM:

617:
Pure unadulterated dirt is dirt that hasn't gotten dirty?

#615 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 03:05 AM:

Here's one I just ran across: "...starts to where down on you..."

#616 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 04:29 AM:

@617

I know what Hamlet said.

"to the manor born" can be traced as far back as 1859, might have started as a mistake, but has developed a useful distinction of meaning.

HORATIO: Is it a custom?

HAMLET: Ay, marry, is't:
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour'd in the breach than the observance.

That could be applied to a great many things, such as some custom of Danish gravediggers, without the speaker having to be one. It's just something they do in these parts.

The more recent phrasing, "to the manor born" suggests a sense of speaker and custom being of the upper classes. and of the speaker having inherited status.

#617 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 06:25 AM:

...which makes the quote about Ke$sha even more dreadful than if they had used the Hamletesque version.

#618 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 10:43 AM:

Niall @621 Exactly. I was envisioning a stately english mansion, occupied by aristocrats delving into piles of soil. Or maybe manure.

#619 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 12:05 PM:

Cath @622: Or possibly a byblow from the droit de seigneur (which I'm surprised hasn't shown up as droit de senor, which would be funnier if I could manage a tilde over the n....)

#620 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Tom, #623: "& ntilde ;", minus the quotation marks and the spaces, gives you ñ.

#621 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 02:53 PM:

I just came across "chirp in" in an email from a colleague: "X or C can chirp in on whether to...." I think this must be a hybrid of "chime in" (more usual) and "chip in" (usually heard of money, occasionally of advice.)

I kind of like this one, actually; it would apply particularly harmoniously to chiming in with Twitter comments.

#622 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 03:04 PM:

I recently saw someone referred to as having a "32-inch waste." Um, ouch?

#623 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Here's one:

"To suggest to Tom that they might try eating someplace else would be an act of hierarchy."

This is from an on-line story. It's full of these, actually - I haven't the heart to pull any more!

#624 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:23 PM:

Lenore (627): It's... That almost makes sense. Almost.

#625 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 03:31 PM:

There's an article about the fall TV shows in today's San Francisco Chronicle, and one of the online commenters was going along quite well about how formulaic some of them are, until he got to "this stuff almost rights itself." Sigh.


(And "To the Manor Born" slipped by me, because it is the name of a BBC TV series from 1979 that's been rerunning on our local PBS station; Teh Google says it's been used in that spelling since at least 1859.)

#626 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 03:38 PM:

"part and partial"

#627 ::: sean williams ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Last night at a school concert I heard a the young MC distincly say, "without further adieu".

#628 ::: sean williams ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 09:53 PM:

I meant "distinctly", of course. And not "a the" at all. *sigh*

(Whose law is it that, when pointing out errors in someone else's spelling or grammar, you are certain to make errors of your own?)

#629 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 03:28 PM:

Seen in yesterday's campus paper, describing students (and perhaps others) at last football game as "yelling explicates" at under-performing quarterback.

Shouting will always clarify things?

#630 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2011, 07:26 AM:

Sean @632: I think I've seen it called Muphry's [sic] Law.

(I double- and triple-check that I've spelt that wrong the right way.)

#631 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2011, 01:32 PM:

We are currently going through a process of creating "mission and vision statements". Another department's proposed mission involves "high quality academic rigor and practical applications of new... technologies [that] meet or exceed the competencies required in a diverse... environment". I wondered what that meant. Then I read opening sentence of the vision statement: "The Department['s]... teaching design is characterized by the aggressive utilization of digital cognition." I could not forbear to point out that "digital cognition" meant "knowing with the fingers" and asking if this indicated a commitment to learning via braille. That was not well received.

#632 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2011, 01:49 PM:

Fragano @ 635... Wise guy, eh?

#633 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2011, 01:03 PM:

634 NelC: yeah, I get that. On a similar note, you can tell that it's time to cut me off when I start straightening out "I'm not as think as you drunk I am".

Cue the story (in Standing Naked in the Wings, a book of Canadian Theatre stories) of a woman doing Sheridan's "The Rivals", and crying offstage because she was Mrs. Malaprop, and not getting any laughs. Turns out she was so nervous on first night that she was unintentionally *correcting* all the malapropisms...

#634 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2011, 11:04 AM:

Local paper discusses need for local gardeners to switch to "drought-hearty" plants. Party on, aloes!

#635 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2011, 10:38 PM:

I encountered two in the wild today:

Seen in the newspaper: "marshal law".

As reported by a friend: "Your invited". As he put it, "My what is invited?" He found this gem on a professionally printed invitation he received - to a fundraiser for his daughters' school. (And since there are two daughters attending this school, he got to see it twice - one invitation per child.)

#636 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2011, 02:23 AM:

From this post on BoingBoing:

They didn't recognize the Soviet government that took over the reigns of Russia and they lived by their own codes and laws.
Neigh, that is not correct. Close, but no Czar, as they say.

#637 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2011, 06:20 AM:

Fragano @ 635: Your interpretation is more flattering to them than the more obvious one, at that, which is that they propose to let their computer systems do all their thinking for them.

Which is, granted, a highly respectable administrative policy, pro-actively implementationized in the very largest and most prestigious of excellence-centred organizations by !!OUT_OF_RANGE_EXCEPTION #4D293A in: Management-U-Speke ScriptGenerator Module Fatal ErrFatal Error!!!!

#638 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2011, 09:15 PM:

I can't believe I didn't mention this before: "Fire house is temporally closed."

I've always wondered if they got the firefighters out before it happened, or if they had to break the temporal closure to let them escape.

(That's my photo of an actual sign right here in Hoboken. The firehouse has since been reopened.)

#639 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2011, 11:19 PM:

I wish I still had the photograph of the official municipal "Libarry Parking Only" sign. (It was replaced rapidly, you'll be happy to hear.)

#640 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 04:29 PM:

Just spotted in the wild:

"All our salads are served on a mescaline mix base."

#641 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 04:37 PM:

SamChevre -- o_0

Reminds me, I saw one the other day, too: "He answers to every beg and call."

#642 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 04:40 PM:

On the radio, wrt an incipient queen: "...and today she'll be coronated." Supplied with a corona, perhaps? Or maybe a Corona (you know, with a lime in the neck)?

#643 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 06:19 PM:

Not the same kind of dreadful phrase, but perhaps related: I saw a sign on a WA ferry the other day that said "WASHINGTON STATE/ EMPLOYEES WILL BE/ PROSECUTED TO THE/ FULL EXTENT OF THE/ LAW/ "CHAPTER 47.60 RCW"". (I will insist on the period outside the second quotation mark being an appropriate disambiguation -- inside the quote, it would have to have been on the sign.)

Someone had managed to efface, in a non-obvious way, the initial words "ASSAULT ON"....

I have a picture.

#644 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 06:29 PM:

Xopher @ 646: or given a typewriter? Or typewritten about?

#645 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2011, 08:07 PM:

The supermarket I usually go to has an employee who can't spell. Naturally this is the employee who makes the signs for in-store specials. Such as "Rustle Stover" candy.

#646 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2011, 09:46 AM:

Seen at Tom's Guide:

The consumer, alas, has had to make due with smaller touchscreen interfaces on our phones and tablets...

#647 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 05:53 PM:

My husband saw this conversation online today:

She: "I earn for my true love."
He: "I'm here, Sweaty."

#648 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 05:56 PM:

A church bulletin referred to "the Service we rend."

#649 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 11:15 AM:

A week or so back, a NYT article, in discussing the effects of a society divorce, said it was responsible for "a riff in New York society".

Since edited to remove the offending phrase, as part of a correction concerning Texas divorce law.

#650 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2011, 03:59 PM:

I saw a flyer posted at my gym today, advertising "Reflexology Health Prevention."

#651 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 06:25 AM:

Here's one I just ran across, in an article on BoardGameGeek about Advanced Squad Leader:

That makes me envision a 200 page rulebook chalked full of details and exceptions and if you screw up on any of them, you are toast.

#652 ::: Melanie S ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2012, 04:14 PM:

Another one in the wild at http://www.tvline.com/2012/01/ask-ausiello-spoilers-once-upon-a-time-bones-gossip-girl-the-good-wife/ :

"self-prescribed" (presumably intending to be "self-described").

#653 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 08:08 PM:

Hee! Just found a new one in the wild: in an Alternet article about right-wing audiences, they "behaved with a single lack of dignity".

#654 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 04:24 PM:

Methyl ethel keytone

(spotted in the wild on a questions-and-answers site on a question thread about cleaning tape residue from painted surfaces.)

#655 ::: Harlequin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 06:23 AM:

"A very textile person." (said of a character who touches people a lot)

#656 ::: myles paulsen ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 02:32 AM:

This is one I love:

sawed-off Damocles:

My all-time favourite editorial disaster in a newspaper was a sports story in the deeply unlamented South China Sunday Post Herald in Hong Kong which referred to a basketball team's future being threatened under "a sawed-off Damocles", the author being under the misapprehension that the Damocles was a type of shot gun.

(I posted above to Wikipedia's talk page for "Sword of Damocles" article, and you can find it there with some other comments.)

#657 ::: myles paulsen ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 02:34 AM:

Also, I just love

"pail of awful" for "pail of offal". Says it all, don't it?

#658 ::: Harlequin ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:45 PM:

"Even with a gun-hoe medical student attitude..."

#659 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:49 PM:

I can't imagine the barrel of a shotgun would be very useful in chopping out weeds from the garden. And shooting at them would be rather imprecise. Then again, perhaps the medical school student just isn't much of a gardener....

#660 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 10:26 PM:

A friend of mine lived in Oregon for a while when he was in high school, where blackberries are an invasive weed. His father hadn't thought of using a gun-hoe to keep them at bay, but did use a flamethrower, and my friend and his brother had to follow along with shovels to smash any remaining bits of fire.

#661 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 10:42 PM:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their guns into hoes, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more?

The flamethrower sounds like fun.

#662 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:12 AM:

It's like Fnl Fntsy and Frmvll, combined!

#663 ::: Richard R. Losch ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2013, 08:23 AM:

A student of an English teacher friend wrote, "Earnest Hemingway won the Pullet Surprise."

#664 ::: SuefromPA ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 01:25 PM:

The list got too long to view everything...has anyone mentioned: "That's a mute point."

#665 ::: Paul Curtis ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 01:46 PM:

An example from a piece of romantic fantasy, that stays with me, decades after reading it:

She approached him where he stood, staring out the window at the first rays of dawn. Her arms encircled his waste.

#666 ::: Vader ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 01:49 PM:

Can I make a belated contibution to your collection?

Horse doovers: What you serve at a reception.

#667 ::: Jonathan Bailey ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 01:53 PM:

I once worked with a salesman who would have me proof read proposal letters. The list of malapropisms and misspellings this guy came up with all by himself could probably double your list but one tuly bizarre one that comes to mind is "past mustard" for passed muster.

#668 ::: Pettifogger ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Using the word "therefor" is generally undesirable, but I particularly hate seeing "therefore" in its place.

#669 ::: Pettifogger ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 03:20 PM:

Re 613 and 614:

Adding the word "pure" may be over the top, but the concept of "unadulterated dirt" is often useful. If you buy real estate, you want to dirt to be unadulterated as opposed to contaminated with hazardous waste.

#670 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 03:57 PM:

it was a relief off of my shoulders
he played base drum in band
item is in press teen condition
hole heartedly

#671 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Pettifogger @669

And contractors will advertise for (or to get rid of) "Clean Fill", aka uncontaminated dirt or gravel or clay. So there's actually a technical term for your unadulterated dirt! ("Clean topsoil", to be precise.)

#672 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:05 PM:

from a yahoo financial article "the former, not the ladder"
i actually wrote to the author about that one...of course, even though he wrote it, he blamed it on the copy editor

#673 ::: Occam's Beard ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:08 PM:

My favorite: "polo bears."

"Global warming" makes it tough to get in a few chukkers, apparently.

#674 ::: Julie ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:10 PM:

"Toe-headed," used by a someone I know to describe herself as a child.

#675 ::: Kyle Moser ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:31 PM:

My personal favorite it - tangenital

#676 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Cally Soukup@671, "clean fill" generally isn't topsoil - the topsoil's worth more, since it has more nutrients and is what you want for grass or gardens. Fill dirt's usually the stuff from underneath the topsoil layer.

#677 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 04:36 PM:

'Clean topsoil' should be free of trash, weeds, cars, buildings, and rocks, but that's just my opinion.

#678 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:11 PM:

A friend of mine recently graded a college paper whose author asserted: The Thirty Years War was between the Protistians and the Carnicians. When all was said and done, it lasted about 30 years.

At least it wasn't "when all was set and done."

#679 ::: Alan ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:23 PM:

I actually called my earplugs "Cadillac converters". They made my Dodge Shadow sound much more like a Cadillac.

#680 ::: apetra ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:36 PM:

"Let me be clear ..."

#681 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:46 PM:

I've been reading a lot over on Archive Of Our Own lately, and maaan have I run into this sort of eggcorn, even in otherwise quite well-spelt documents.

The one that even somebody who gets everything ELSE right often screws up is counsel/council -- both ways, not overusing one consistently and ignoring the other. Which, admittedly, isn't something regularly used in collquial modern-day English, but neither are a lot of the other terms used in traditional-Barrayaran-type political discussion, and it bugs me.

#682 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:55 PM:

Possibly regional Massachusetts/New England usage:

Chest of draws.

#683 ::: rasqual ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:57 PM:

The "try a different tact" one is frightfully common. Almost as common as the name "Antwan".

#684 ::: Kent Stromsted ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 05:58 PM:

I loved this in a business letter: Please use disgression.

#685 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 08:58 PM:

681
Elliott, there are a lot of people who get discreet/discrete wrong, too. (Maybe it calls for a mnemonic: 'discrete math isn't discreet' or something similar.)

#686 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 09:19 PM:

Discreet math is much like discrete math, except you never show your work to anyone. Ever.

#687 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 10:35 PM:

#681 elliot mason

"even in otherwise quite well-spelt documents."

well-spelt? really?

#688 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2013, 10:38 PM:

Yes, dwdude. There are a number of words like that, where -t (with a dropped duplicate letter) is used in UKE where we'd use -ed (without dropping anything) in USE.

I used to know someone whose sig was "I spell spelled spelt." Could have disambiguated with quotes, but more fun without.

#689 ::: DonM ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 12:28 AM:

"very unique" could be an error for "very eunuch".

#690 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 12:47 AM:

DonM, in what context could 'very eunuch' be used?

#691 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 01:25 AM:

This is the very eunuch I was looking for!

#692 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 02:54 AM:

Showoff.

#693 ::: Mark W. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 08:51 AM:

"Run the gambit..." for "run the gamut..."

#694 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 08:58 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ 691 ...
This is the very eunuch I was looking for!

... but I wanted Linux, not Unix ...

#695 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 09:08 AM:

Seen in the wild on a list of clchildren's classes, describing a Lego class.

"This perineal favorite will include building..."

#696 ::: Christy ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Tea Toddler

#697 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 10:46 AM:

SamChevre @695: That just taint right.

#698 ::: Virginia ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 10:50 AM:

The worst actual printed boo-boo I have ever seen happened when a student reporter from our college newspaper interviewed a candidate for student body office. She declared that the candidate's favorite book was Lame is Rob by Victor Hugo.

#699 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:04 PM:

Just saw 'buggy-eyed alien' in print. I certainly think an alien whose eyes resembled buggies would be deeply disconcerting to view.

#700 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Xopher, #699: Would that be an alien with strict pram-eters?

#701 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 11:33 PM:

A friend of mine once IM'ed me and said that something (I don't remember what) gave her "a piece of mind".

#702 ::: Rick ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 04:53 PM:

"She's such a pre-Madonna."

#703 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 04:57 PM:

Rick: Ookla the Mok, on their album O OK LA, have a song whose chorus contains the phrase, "She was a pre-Madonna prima donna." They're awesome.

#704 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 12:42 AM:

Ookla are awesome, and they were at Consonance earlier this month in the Bay Area.

#705 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Found this one on a Craigslist ad for an apartment:

"This charming home is in walking distance to Berkeley Bowel"

Somehow, we're not looking at that apartment.

#706 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Just encountered in the wild: explaining in laments’ terms.

In context, it was obviously intended to be "laymen's terms".

#707 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 01:28 PM:

Lee... I'd read a story titled "Lament's Terms".

#708 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Lee #706, Serge #707:

All sounds pretty lamentable.

#709 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 05:57 PM:

Ah, but was it the lamentation of their women?

#710 ::: Sanford Begley ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2013, 10:11 AM:

I read the Following quote and for some reason my mind threw up story ideas for every one of the stupidities. I could learn to hate you :D


"For a while, I was adding new-found specimens to the collection in item #4, “Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language,” in Slushkiller’s list of reasons for rejection: hare’s breath escape, plaintiff melody, causal/casual, clamoured to his feet, a shutter went through her body, his body went ridged, empirical storm troopers, ex-patriot Englishmen, et cetera; but there came to be too many of them, so now I just keep a list:"

#711 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Seen on a couple of home improvement television shows, including from a professional electrician:

Floor Joyces.

#712 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2013, 10:09 PM:

Bob Webber @ #711:

There's an old story about a man from [insert stereotypical background here] who applied for a job on a building site. While being tested on his qualifications, he was asked to explain the difference between a joist and a girder.

"That's easy," he said. "Joist wrote 'Ulysses' and Girder wrote 'Faust'."

#713 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2013, 12:52 AM:

Paul A. @ #712:

Hah!

When asked to supply his own wheelbarrow, he turned up for work with a copy of "The Naked Lunch."

#714 ::: bill guhl ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2013, 02:29 PM:

A mechanic (on a particularly hot day) said that he was suffering from "heat frustration". As with many of the examples, it had a truthful ring.

#715 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2013, 02:51 PM:

bill guhl, was he being a Malaprop, or cleverly turning a phrase? Could be either, from the quote alone.

#716 ::: Alan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2013, 10:29 AM:

I worked with a guy who, one day, wanted to get down to brass tactics.

Seen today: "These guys were not even speaking to you. What are you doing ease dropping?"

#717 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2013, 04:59 PM:

As announced on an airplane I was in yesterday, "Flight attendants will collect any disregarded items."

And snap up unconsidered trifles at the same time, perhaps.

#718 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 11:02 AM:

a grizzly crime...i just can't bare it. (nyuk nyuk)

the worst imho is ecksetra

#719 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 11:11 AM:

two examples from the media reporting on the military...

found a cachet of arms, instead of cache

wounded by shrap metal, instead of shrapnel

#720 ::: dwdude ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 11:13 AM:

one more annoyance...flustrated

#721 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 12:14 PM:

I like flustrated. It works as a portmanteau word.

#722 ::: Steve C was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 12:23 PM:

Bob Webber @ 717 -

I like "disregarded items". I immediately turned it around in my mind to "rediscarded", i.e. the process of picking something out of the discarded pile, thinking about it, and then tossing it back in.

#723 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 12:23 PM:

Sorry not gnomed at all....

#724 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2013, 12:35 PM:

For those interested in trivia, "flustration" (or, more specifically, the "flustration count") is a particular sleight of hand move in card magic. There, it's jargon.

#725 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 06:24 PM:

Just encountered in the wilds of Facebook:

The idea that corporations are people is ludacrise.

#726 ::: Lee, be-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2013, 06:25 PM:

Does mention of the Book of Face (no link) trigger the filters?

[No, "Facebook" by itself doesn't trigger anything. "Ludacris," however, does. -- Voobon Cirwell, Duty Gnome]

#727 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Just ran into a new one:

"Coodles to Mom for..."

#728 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 06:31 PM:

A rather sad one encountered on a poster about a missing elderly person:

He has signs of dimensia

(According to the article, his body was found a week later; his faithful dog was still with him, standing guard.)

#729 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 07:08 PM:

"on the couch where he was want to lie"
"he lost conscience about 10 minutes ago" (which of Jim's health posts would that go in?)

And what's up with people who think the debrief comes before the mission?

#730 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2013, 08:39 PM:

#729 ::: Cheryl

Only for commando missions are the briefs removed ahead of time.

#732 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2013, 08:38 AM:

One I just saw: "red hearing" for red herring. Possibly a mondegreen for the colourblind.

#733 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Just seen: Mea cuppa.

I'll get the coffee?

#734 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Encountered in a newspaper editorial: "the good of the populous". From context, the word wanted was clearly "populace".

#735 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 01:37 PM:

A usage that I've been finding really annoying lately is "ran" for "run". My students do it all the time.

#736 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 02:01 PM:

I recently mentioned to a friend that I had contacted a mutual friend but not yet had a reply. I got the response: "Oh, she's not very communicable at the moment."

#737 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Fragano@735

I guess sometimes you just have to take the idea and ran with it.

:-)

#738 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 02:49 PM:

Michael I #737:

It's usually something on the lines of "this is how the government is ran". It sets my teeth on hedges (a phrase I recall seeing a very long time ago).

Mongoose #736: Isn't there a jab for that?

#739 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 03:02 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 738: Whether there's a jab may depend on whether it came from a poke.

#740 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 11:54 AM:

"Texas eeks out a win". I know it was a squeaker, and probably *was* scary, but still ...

#741 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:01 AM:

Just encountered on a blog about cycling: je ne c'est quoi.
Yeesh.

#742 ::: David Goldfarb is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:02 AM:

The gnomes don't like French?

#743 ::: Thomas the Great ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2013, 04:24 PM:

I just heard this eggcorn:

"..crawling on all floors..."

Graham Haley said it, on his great TV program, "Haley's Hints," on the US network PBS. Heard Nov. 30, 2013.

#744 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Xopher said I should submit this one. Spotted in the wild: "same o same o"

#745 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 11:03 PM:

Someone on the radio accused NYC's new mayor of making a "straw dog argument."

#746 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:03 AM:

I saw "here, here" as an expression of agreement in the wild the other day.

#747 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:12 AM:

"He was able to complete the form using the pneumonic he'd learned"

#748 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 08:01 AM:

I blame The Hunger Games for perpetuating an old confusion between "capital" and "capitol".

London is not the capitol of England.

#749 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 09:20 AM:

One I'm finding more often:

.....pain-
staking

Most recently found in a manuscript of someone with a doctorate in English.

#750 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Lin Daniel (749): I'm guessing that that's automated hyphenation gone wrong. I see a lot of that, splitting words in grammatically/meaningfully wrong places. It can be overridden, but first someone has to catch it--and to (think to) bother to look.

#751 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:51 PM:

In one case, it was on a hand-written sign. When I told the sign's owner that the word signified the taking of pains, he thanked me. He said the word now made better sense. Ya think?

#752 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 01:14 PM:

Lin Daniel (751): OK, yeah, on a handwritten sign it's definitely bad parsing not automated hyphenation gone wrong.

Hmmm. Would 'pain-staking' be like staking vampires (to destroy the pain) or like staking the pain out on an ant hill?

#753 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 01:23 PM:

Ant hill, definitely.

Just seen on book of face,
How My Gosh!

#754 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 03:25 PM:

750
I've seen cases of automatic hyphenation mixed with justify-both-sides that result in hyphens in one-syllable words. In a big-name magazine.

#755 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 04:10 PM:

P J Evans (754): I can believe it.

#756 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 04:18 PM:

When you see something like "same o same o", and it's used correctly, it rather fascinates me. Someone's mind has taken in a series of sounds, and assigned a meaning from context with no logical explanation whatsoever.

#757 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 05:33 PM:

756
Line-towing and reigning-in are two more.

#758 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 06:02 PM:

A lot of eggcorns come from the (almost incomprehensible to me) fact that a lot of parents aren't at all interested in etymology, and so don't question the learned-phonetically idioms of their childhood, and can't explain them to the next generation either.

I 'bout drove my poor Spanish teacher batty, in community college, asking if word X was etymologically related to Latin-word-Y ... I'm just interested! Word nerd here! Also, it helps me keep meaning straight (and avoid False Friends, of whom there are a lot between Latin and Spanish).

#759 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:40 AM:

"Physical policy." Talking about things that will improve the economy. And it was a Senator of the United States. *facepalm*

#760 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 05:20 AM:

Here's one from the Book of Face today: '...this shite [writing fiction] is hard work; why give it away (except to friends and for promotional reasons that might actually bare fruit).'

#761 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 08:45 PM:

I found this on a website. I know it's wrong but I can't put my finger on why.

"has a variety of entertainment in store for you"

#762 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 09:03 PM:

Lin Daniel #761: Hmm... I don't think that's actually wrong, just cheesy.

#763 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 11:23 PM:

Just saw a tweet which described a despicable bit of political bullying as "a vial act" (no, that's the one with the poison—Act III, I believe).

And I just remembered a sign in a grocery run by people whose first language is not English, labeling the produce in a bin "Criminal Mushrooms." Mm, criminal mushrooms. Don't know what they did to deserve being served to me for supper, but I'm glad they did!

#764 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:40 AM:

Me @761

I think it irritates me because "variety" implies plural and the word entertainment is singular.

#765 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 12:56 AM:

Hmm, even though not countable. Let's check a few...

A variety of wine. No, you'd say a variety of wines, meaning types of wine.

Water...same as wine (hear that Jesus?).

All the other examples I can think of use that same form, using a plural for ordinarily-non-countable noun X to mean types of X. Wool. Fabric. Metal.

Wait. 'A variety of music' doesn't sound so wrong. But then 'a variety of entertainment' didn't either, at first. But 'a variety of entertainments' sounds unbearably stilted, almost to the Bond-villain level.

I'm not sure. I'd recast that into a completely different phrase if it came up in my writing.

#766 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:28 AM:

Actually, to me "a variety of wine" is perfectly fine if it's referring to what's often called a varietal -- say, semillon or cabernet.

"A variety of entertainment" is a bit odd, because "entertainment" can be either singular or plural in my book; I'd never say (e.g.) we've booked entertainments for a a wedding, even if there were several varieties involved (a band, a disco, and a small circus). Perhaps that's just me, though.

#767 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 01:51 AM:

Tom, I agree about 'a variety of wine'. I was talking about the context cited above, 'We have a variety of X in store for you.' They wouldn't say that if they were talking about a variety in your sense. "We have a variety: Merlot is a variety."

#768 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 03:00 AM:

I note that "cabernet" isn't really a varietal: there are a number of different varietals that are "Cabernet __". Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most popular, so that "cabernet" on its own usually means that, but it's not a precise usage.

#769 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2014, 04:35 AM:

It's a collective noun (rather like a vacuum cleaner), which is why it looks odd (I think).

#770 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 12:00 PM:

Just saw 'ad hock'.

#771 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 12:18 PM:

Xopher (770): That's when you pawn your advertising copy, right?

#772 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2014, 12:37 PM:

No, it's what you use to sell German white wine.

#773 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:49 AM:

Not sure if this is the core case of this thread, but I just have to share this with people who will understand.

"Imagine six school buses end to end, stacked on top of each other."

I can imagine them end to end. I can imagine them stacked on top of each other. I cannot imagine both at once. I ordinarily think I have a pretty good imagination.

#774 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:54 AM:

That is a very awkward way of phrasing it, but I think I know what it means. Imagine that each bus is standing on its taillights, and they're stacked like that, with the rear end of each resting on the front of the one below it.

#775 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:54 AM:

Hmmmm, the balance would be too precarious, but I can imagine them standing on end, stacked on each other that way. Superglue might help.

#776 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 11:59 AM:

Maybe the popup illo, which showed six school buses with the wheels of each on the roof of the one below, was really at fault.

Or maybe the reporter really doesn't grasp that "end to end" means more than "all together."

To school buses come in only one standard size? Aside from the "short buses," that is. I don't think the ones I see in Hoboken are the same size as the ones back in Michigan, but I can't be sure.

#777 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:00 PM:

And Carrie S. explained the image more clearly while I was typing.

#778 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:01 PM:

Maybe the popup illo, which showed six school buses with the wheels of each on the roof of the one below, was really at fault.

Or maybe the reporter really doesn't grasp that "end to end" means more than "all together."

To school buses come in only one standard size? Aside from the "short buses," that is. I don't think the ones I see in Hoboken are the same size as the ones back in Michigan, but I can't be sure.

#779 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Argh. Internal Server Error and Reload are a bad combination. Sorry.

#780 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Xopher (776): My impression is that school buses are all* the same standard size. There are some with a flat front instead of the stick-out hood; they always look Wrong to me, but those would be easier to stack end-to-end.

*except, as you say, for the short buses

-------
I tried to post a comment a minute ago but got this error: "The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@nielsenhayden.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request."

#781 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:05 PM:

My #777 is the comment that prompted the error message. I swear it wasn't there when I refreshed the page to check!

#782 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Here's the video; the illo is around 2:25.

He says the jump is "over 70 feet." School buses are 36-39 feet long, depending on the model, and 10-12 feet high (according to a quick Google). Taking the middle of each range, you get 153 feet with the "stacking end to end" choice that you suggest, and 66 feet stacked wheels-on-roofs.

So I think he meant it the way I first thought, and threw "end to end" in there without thinking.

#783 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:02 PM:

Xopher (782): Sounds like the 'end to end' was an error on his part, all right. I was chiefly responding to your 'cannot imagine'. :)

#784 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:10 PM:

In retrospect, I think the phrase "on top of each other" misled me almost as much as the illo; a bus has an intrinsic top, so stacking them nose to tail still doesn't quite feel like "on top of each other." *shrug*

#785 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:20 PM:

Xopher (784): That makes sense.

#786 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:33 PM:

782
That sounds like the buses are parked side-by-side.
Aaaarrrgghh!

#787 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2014, 01:38 PM:

Lin Daniel #764, and following: I think it irritates me because "variety" implies plural and the word entertainment is singular.

Considering Xopher #765, "a variety of entertainments" would be better for what the writer probably meant. the original intention. But Tom Whitmore #766 points out that "variety" does have another meaning, which can be singular (that is, it's a homograph). So it could have meant "we have a particular sort of entertainment", or "it is a kind of entertainment" ;) It might be that ambiguity that was itching Lin.

#788 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 12:07 AM:

Seen recently in regards to recipes and holiday foods:

And an invitation of more good tastes to come.

#789 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Seen in a StackOverflow discussion of whether to use single or double quotes to delimit strings in Javascript: "If we were to use a single quote ', the reader may misinterpret it as a contraption".

#790 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 07:46 PM:

Not seen in the wild, but this snippet is stuck in my head and posting it here may liberate it.

"Those stupid peasants showed up with torches and pitchforks. Their resistance was feudal."

#791 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Carol Kimball (790): --snerk!--

#792 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Just seen on Scalzi's blog: "...the people on my side of the isle..."

Given this commenter's general level of courtesy and sense (both low), if he were marooned on an isle with like-minded people, the rest of the world would be...just fine.

#793 ::: Tom Whitmore sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2014, 03:09 AM:

Is it a "dreadful phrase" if it just leaves off the final period?

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 02:52 PM:

On the website of a very popular (and very good) bakery:
Croquem bush
(It comes in both large and small sizes.)

#795 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 03:05 PM:

"a plutonic friendship"?!

...with a dog?
...with Mephistopheles?
...with an extensive half-life? And would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

#796 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 04:38 PM:

PJ Evans @794, what is that supposed to be? I'm not getting it.

#797 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 04:38 PM:

PJ Evans @794, what is that supposed to be? I'm not getting it.

#798 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 04:40 PM:

Darn it. Sorry for double post.

#799 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Croque en bouche or croquembouche, a French dessert.

A sticky tower of puff pastry balls, made to be pulled apart with the fingers - just the thing for a wedding reception or other gathering in fancy dress!

A low-rent version is Monkey Bread.

#800 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 05:02 PM:

Carol @795: When I've seen that particular dreadful phrase, I figured the relationship is based on money or material goods.

#801 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 05:22 PM:

799
And, given what I've eaten from that bakery, their version is probably very good: the picture is impressive. (They have savory dishes, too: their potato balls are very tasty.)

#802 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 05:52 PM:

P J Evans: As far as I'm concerned, Porto's gets a pass on spelling. Based on my experience with some of their other products, however they spell it, it will probably be really tasty!

#803 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 05:55 PM:

Not sure if this counts, but I saw someone talking about the abbreviations CAFAB and CAMAB (Coercively Assigned [Female|Male] At Birth). They said something like "Some prefer AFAB/AMAB, depending on how angry they feel about the assignation."

'Assignation' is a real word, but it means something else. Babies are given sex assignments at birth, but not assignations.

Brain bleach please.

#804 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 06:11 PM:

802
One of my co-workers would bring in two or three boxes from there, every couple of months. As he was in charge of stuff like safety training, I'd accuse him of trying to get us into a state where we'd have to roll down the stairs in fire drills.

#805 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 06:51 PM:

In a quote from climate-change deniers National Center for Public Policy Research at the Apple shareholders' meeting: "the Al Gore contingency in the room".

#806 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 07:08 PM:

"Contingency" for "contingent" happens a lot lately; I think they're confusing it with "constituency"....

#807 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 07:51 PM:

Carol, #799: My now-ex and I had one for our wedding cake. It was made of cream puffs. It was also one of the things that made my mother nuts because it wasn't a Traditional Wedding Cake, which was worth every bit of the price all by itself.

#808 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Bouche. Groan. Well, it does look tasty, I agree!

#809 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 09:15 PM:

Xopher (803): 'Assignation' there makes me think 'assignment' was colliding with 'designation'.

#810 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 10:21 PM:

Hmm, that seems plausible. And spell check wouldn't help.

#811 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 10:21 PM:

Hmm, that seems plausible. And spell check wouldn't help.

#812 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 10:36 PM:

Aargh. Sorry.

#813 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:09 PM:

Research studies have been suggestive of that 

#814 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2014, 11:11 PM:

Elsewhere on the same page

Pistachios are delicious tree nuts recognized for their wholesome nutrition principles. 

#815 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Seen today in the wild, in a published juvenile novel that has been assigned by at least one schoolteacher: "She shook her head profusely." Also contains confusion between hay and straw (admittedly, this is perennial, especially in fantasy novels); confusion between "prance" and "pounce"; apparent ignorance of the difference between "smile" and "smirk", and, I kid you not, the sun setting in the East (presumably as a marker of We Are In The Fairy-Tale World Now).

I had to read this entire book (520 pages) out loud, including the acknowledgements in which the author mentions that this is the last of three novels he wrote in the space of 11 months. Believe me, sir, it shows.

#816 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 03:10 PM:

I remember reading a novel some years ago in which the beam of the ocean-going ship is twelve inches.

(A hundred people going to sea straddling a log?)

I figured at the time that the author meant "freeboard"... although that's rather low to the water for an ocean-going vessel.

Or perhaps she meant twelve feet?

#817 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 07:31 PM:

Cassy B.@816

Or maybe got height and width mixed up somehow?

#818 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2014, 08:19 PM:

816
Or confused the meanings of 'beam'? (I can see a 12-inch wide beam of lumber, but a ship, not so much.)

#819 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2014, 06:42 PM:

"...then felt instantly embarrassed for the familiarity of it. He could not remember having had the tenacity to do it before." (Should have been "temerity")

#820 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Good copyeditors are worth their weight in mithril.

"...cloak themselves in the mantel of science..."

They're hiding in the fireplace, are they?

(I looked this up, and while 'mantle' can be used in the fireplace sense, the reverse is not true.)

#821 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2014, 08:22 PM:

Just spotted in an article from Politico magazine:

[A]bortion opponents have been urging allies to refuse to purchase cookies from any girl scout this year to show their opposition to what they perceive as the Girl Scouts' increasing support of people and advocacy groups with ties, however tendentious, to abortion.

The word they needed was "tenuous".

#822 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2014, 07:35 PM:

Seen in an interview transcript: "Christ all mighty"

#823 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 09:19 PM:

From an email message from our homeowners association: "John has read them the right act"

#824 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 10:31 PM:

"Please use tongues to pick up cookies, not your hands."

#825 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 11:44 PM:

Xopher 824: Say what?

#826 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 12:13 AM:

I'm guessing it was supposed to read "use tongs to pick up cookies".

#827 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 12:47 AM:

So, in my web surfing, I saw a link that said, "Massive Fossil Find in L.A. Subway", and I thought it might be interesting, so why not click?

A 19-meter profound shaft being dug for a new Los Angeles’ subway line is loaded with fortune. The alleged Subway to the Sea is still nine miles away from the beach, however excavation has uncovered a few animals from the sea depths… the ancient sea floor!

Metro’s Steve Hymon and Dave Sotero dared to flee to the site of the exploratory shaft, which is a preconstruction activity to verify the conditions are tantamount to where architects will be tunneling. Since its a site known to be delicate — the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is battling to push ahead with its expansion arrangements across the street — scientists are on location to determine nothing retrieved is damaged

"dared to flee to the site"? "the conditions are tantamount"?

The scariest part of the article? "Since 2009, Sean [the author] has been the lead editor"

#828 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 01:42 AM:

827
Sadly, not unusual. SFGate had a photo of a Malaysian soldier petrolling an airport.

#829 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 07:44 AM:

Well, the lead (leading) is about all I'd let that guy edit.

You could petrol an airport! First step in burning it down. Probably not what they meant.

#830 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 08:54 AM:

829
That's pretty close to my reaction. (It was not, of course, what they meant.)

Apparently copyeditors and porffriders are too expensive for news sites to hire, even though doing so would improve them.

#831 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 09:50 AM:

Xopher@829

Obviously you need to petrol an airport. It causes problems when there isn't fuel available for the planes. And the various airport-related vehicles...

:-)

#832 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 11:12 AM:

Cheryl (827): Also 'profound shaft'. I smell thesaurus abuse. 'Profound' can mean 'very deep', but it's the wrong meaning of 'deep'.

#833 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 11:38 AM:

@832 Mary Aileen

Cheryl (827): Also 'profound shaft'. I smell thesaurus abuse. 'Profound' can mean 'very deep', but it's the wrong meaning of 'deep'.

Well, yes. I was afraid if I started typing out everything that was wrong, I'd just end up typing out the whole article!

I'm kind of tempted to redo it, properly edited, just so I can send it back and apply for a job. It would be one way of getting a gig I haven't tried!

Sadly, Sean is probably the guy doing the hiring, and won't appreciate the feedback.

#834 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2014, 01:31 PM:

janetl 826 / Xopher 824: ooooooohhh! Thanks.

#835 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2014, 04:45 AM:

Oh, jeez.

A woman's neck not "wringed in pearls".

Taking over someone's empire is not a "coup de grâce".

Adverse != averse.

These are not from fanfic, nor even from an ARC. They're from an actual published book.

Oy, vey.

#836 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2014, 03:49 PM:

While studying the online menu of a Nepalese-Indian restaurant, I puzzled over the description of Bahigun Bharta: "Begged eggplant in our clay oven smashed and cooked with the Indian spices"

I eventually concluded that it was supposed to be baked eggplant. But it took me a while.

#837 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2014, 06:34 PM:

New York Daily News is quoted as saying that the Knicks are "entering unchartered territory". The map is not the land grant.

#838 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Just saw an article that applauds the Warwick Rowers (who really are great guys) for "their dedication to irradiating homophobia in sports."

I really don't think irradiation is going to help.

(They meant eradicating.)

#839 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 03:19 PM:

'Irradiating' for 'eradicating' looks like a spill-chicken run amok. At a guess, they weren't sure how to spell 'eradicating', started off 'irr-' instead of 'era-' and ran into an overenthusiastic chicken.

#840 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 05:02 PM:

I pointed it out in a comment and they fixed it.

#841 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2014, 07:15 PM:

Good for them!

#842 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 08:37 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 841: Thank you for spill-chicken

#843 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 10:55 AM:

janetl (842): You are entirely welcome, but it's not original with me. In fact, I'm fairly sure I picked it up here at ML.

#844 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2014, 12:32 PM:

So, my friend loaned me the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep, and mostly for lack of anything better right now, I've been reading them, for values of "reading" that included skipping entire chapters because I just can't stand it.

The following quotes are all from the 6th book, By a Thread (the main character's favourite weapons are knives):


The giant let out an angry roar and rushed toward me.
Swipe-swipe-swipe.


After that, it was just a matter of keeping them penned in together while I went to work with my knives.
Slice-slice-slice-slice.


…peppered here and there with the sharp sting of gunfire.
Crack! Crack! Crack!


I swear, it's like Sesame Street Assassin. <elmo voice> See me stab the bad guy! Stab! Stab! Stab! </elmo voice>

I can't even bear to read those parts - in the "all-out battle" chapters, there'll be one of those every couple of paragraphs.

Argh.

#845 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 10:59 AM:

Cheryl @844: You might enjoyBeowulf by the Black Bard of Meridies, as a palate-cleanser. :-> It is sometimes referred to in filk circles as "See Beowulf. See Beowulf smite!"

#846 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2014, 10:34 PM:

@845 Elliott Mason

Cheryl @844: You might enjoyBeowulf

Oh, my.

I reread the line three times before I properly parsed Grendel having some Danish for breakfast.

Shame, Cheryl, shame.

#847 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2014, 09:55 AM:

I made it surprisingly far into the Elemental Assassin series. I'm not proud of that enjoyment but it must have been there.

#848 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Well, you'll notice everything I quoted came from the 6th book.

#849 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2014, 09:40 PM:

talking about people during a long term crisis:

where a custom to hardship

#850 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2014, 02:04 PM:

"Once and a while" for "once in a while".

#851 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2014, 07:44 PM:

"written some rather in temperature things against him recently"

#852 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:39 PM:

Someone explaining to me that they forgot to do something: "It was an over-site."

#853 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 12:40 PM:

"Trolling the internet", when it's clear the author meant "Trawling the internet".

#854 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Ginger #853: Actually, that's etymologically reasonable -- Internet "trolling" was in fact named from the fishing method... which is variously known as "trawling" or "trolling" depending on dialect. The infrapont business is back-formation.

#855 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Yes, Dave, but that's not how the term is used now. 'Poodle' and 'puddle' come from the same root too, but it would be a DP to say "I got a puddle puppy."

Or maybe not, but you see my point.

#856 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 11:50 AM:

Someone posted a pic of a particular character from Agents of SHIELD with the caption "trader!"

#857 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 01:34 PM:

Xopher and Dave, actually, fishing by dragging baited lines behind boats is still called "trolling". It's distinct from "trawling", which involves nets. The OP might have meant either.

#858 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Lila re: trolling/trawling

This is the way I've heard and use those terms, too.

#859 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2014, 06:06 PM:

Furthermore, I also use "trolling for an address" (a little dated, but not obsolete) to describe the process of driving well under the speed limit while trying to look at building numbers. I believe this usage is related to the line-fishing one, which also involves moving at a low speed.

#860 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2014, 11:51 PM:

Never seen this one before: "the subject of duel discrimination" (for example, from being both black and gay)

#861 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 12:41 AM:

Recently found in an otherwise excellent story, a character making soup out of chicken bullion.

#862 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 12:54 AM:

In Fort Knorr, no doubt.

#863 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 01:24 AM:

No, Mr Bond, I expect you to diet.

#864 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2014, 03:59 PM:

Spotted in another thread, "the question of fair to me seems somewhat mute."

#865 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 12:00 PM:

Looking for info on 1943 steel pennies got me this gem.

Steel pennies were minted in 1943 because of Word War II.

#866 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2014, 03:57 PM:

My niece just found "well in doubt," as in "well in doubt with the necessary skills."

#867 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 12:24 AM:

I see this one all over Avengers fanfic: Jarvis calling all the Avengers "Master Lastname".

Just... no. British butlers do not automatically address people as 'Master'. It denotes a specific relationship (as Miles says in WA, "you wouldn't call me 'my husband' just because you heard my wife do so").

And, given North American history with the use of the word, it not only annoys me, it squicks me out.

#868 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 11:23 AM:

Yes, that's clearly incorrect. Do you know what the correct usage would be? I seem to remember something or other about "Master Lastname" being only for the heir of the household or something, with "Master Firstname" being used for other boys, and "Miss Lastname" only for the eldest daughter, or maybe the eldest unmarried daughter, with all the others moving up from "Miss Firstname" as older ones marry.

Or am I being confused by Jane Austen?

#869 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 11:51 AM:

On Jarvis's method of address in fanfic.

I would note that (at least in current movie continuity) Jarvis is an AI programmed by Tony Stark and there is no guarantee that Tony programmed Jarvis with the correct usage.

#870 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2014, 05:20 PM:

I just saw "up the anti".

#871 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2014, 02:12 AM:

This came across my DW friendslist:

From a job listing I just looked at: "Salary commiserate with experience." You know, I'll bet it does.

#872 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2014, 10:17 AM:

Just saw "we watched the kids jumping off the peer into the lake."

That is one exceptionally good-natured aristocrat.

#873 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 10:39 AM:

From Time.com, today:
"Prosecutors say the sophistry of the explosives gave investigators reason to believe that the suspects may have had accomplices"

Actual editorial comment escapes me.

#874 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 11:05 AM:

joann @873:

So the suspects did not Plato their own strengths when making the explosives?

#875 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 11:08 AM:

abi @ 874: I suppose they were boxed in, and that's useful information: So crates can make explosives more powerful!

#877 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 02:17 PM:

They didn't Russell up the right ingredients...usually terrorists Kant, because they try to Hegel with their suppliers, and end up getting put the Mill.

* * *

Seen in the wild (I think this was more of a typo actually, but it's funny): A name from a foreign language was said to be spellable "without diuretics." In my experience spelling WITH diuretics usually also involves snow.

#878 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2014, 06:16 PM:

put through* the Mill

#879 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2014, 04:05 AM:

Locke this thread before it's too late.

#881 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 10:59 AM:

additional lair of danger

(added by putting dangerous batteries next to your dangerous solar panels)

#882 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 01:30 AM:

Can kind of see where this one came from: "bearing its claws" :->

#883 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2014, 07:52 PM:

"Another lair of danger" sounds like just the right place to practice Mad Science!

(Though, yes, it could also be a place for a bear to bear its claws.)

#884 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 05:13 PM:

"...eat some synonym toast crunch."

#885 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2014, 07:01 PM:

I saw someone today who had obviously confused "anesthetic" and "antiseptic". Anesthetics, as a rule, don't sting...

#886 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Carrie S @885: True -- the only anesthetics that I can think of to cause some stinging are the topical ophthalmic ones (from rueful experience).

#887 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Carrie S @885: topical benzocaine for mouth sores stings upon application; and the initial injection for a cut on my face that needed stitches stung like crazy until it started working. There's often an initial sting with anesthetics, in my experience.

#888 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2014, 06:49 PM:

Found on a friend's blog: a reference to having found a bow tie "with matching cumberbun" for a formal event.

That's funny enough even if you don't know that among Sherlock fandom, the term "Cumberbun" has come to refer to a rear-view shot of Benedict Cumberbatch. But this entry predates Sherlock.

#889 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2014, 11:18 PM:

On the book of face, a description of someone with a "bare mid-drift"

#890 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2014, 04:53 PM:

"Not basing our decision on heresay."

#891 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2014, 07:01 PM:

"he wore a silver torque around his neck"

#892 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2014, 10:18 PM:

oh, and "pulled taught"

#893 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Not that I'd ever post anything from work, but I have an official letter from a company which gives their corporate address as "Posted Box 1779"... (for non-USers, that should be "Post Office Box" or "P.O. Box")

#894 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Not that I'd ever post anything from work, but I have an official letter from a company which gives their corporate address as "Posted Box 1779"... (for non-USers, that should be "Post Office Box" or "P.O. Box")

#895 ::: Melanie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2014, 06:59 PM:

I just saw "could have swarm" instead of "could have sworn." Generally I can figure out how the writer got from A to B, but I admit, for this one I got nothin'.

Cheryl @827, there's a certain brand of spam "news" site that pulls articles from other sites, then uses an automatic thesaurus replacer to make it look like novel content, basically just to serve ads. That looks like one of those.

...Ah, indeed it is: here's the original.

#896 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 01:28 PM:

TV Guide description for an episode of "The White Queen".

Key players scheme and maneuver to take over the thrown.

#897 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2014, 02:05 PM:

Cheryl 827 and Melanie S at 895:
maybe that could be a new way for students to write term papers. It would foil those computer programs that automatically detect plagiarism by seeing whether files are alike.

#898 ::: Lenore Jean Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 11:47 AM:

"In addition to passing the Bechdel test, Alien also flaunts the usually ironclad law in Hollywood that in mixed groups the black guy must be the first to die."

Pretty sure "flouts" was meant.

#899 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2014, 08:39 PM:

"...doesn't think that he would be amendable to their presence at this time."

#900 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:12 PM:

From a beer glossary:
All beers are essentially one of the other, ales or lagers.

Describing lambics:
Wild airborne yeasts... ascend upon open brewing vessels...


#901 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 05:46 PM:

"For an instant, his world tipped on it’s access."

#902 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2014, 11:37 PM:

Someone asking for help identifying something said "I would be in depth for anyone who can."

#903 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 01:38 AM:

Xopher @902: that sounds like a possible spill chicken. I could imagine someone getting the silent consonant upside-down (being silent makes it harder to check by sounding-out), and writing "in dept", which then gets corrected by adding an "h" instead of swapping out the "p" for a "b".

#904 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2014, 03:17 AM:

Another movie line that annoys me for its wrongness:

In _Labyrinth_, Jareth challenges Sarah(*) to find the baby within thirteen hours, or else he'll keep the kid as a goblin forever. Okay. At one point, he pops up the clock and runs several hours off of it -- saying "Let's raise the stakes."

I always point at the screen and shout "No, you'll lower the odds, dammit."

(* Or Sarah challenges Jareth, but that's another sort of discussion.)

#905 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2014, 09:26 AM:

this is hard to beet

#906 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Someone made some "synonym rolls." For those who don't care to click through, the comment is "Just like grammar used to make!"

#907 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:10 PM:

"a whole town n Texas is guarantained with EBOLA"

Guarantained. Seriously. Jim Wright quoted this on Facebook. The rest was semiliterate at best, but 'guarantained' is the only thing good enough to post here.

BTW, no Texas town is guarantained, or even quarantined, with ebola (don't you love how they assume it's an acronym?). The National Report is a fake news site, and they made it up.

#908 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:13 PM:

'Elbola' was probably a typo, since it came from an otherwise-literate person.

#909 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 11:36 PM:

Just saw "it's a waist of his talent."

#910 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 11:58 PM:
Items recovered at the 55-meter-deep wreck site off the Greek island of Antikythera, announced on October 9 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, include table wear, a ceramic jug, a bronze spear probably from a warrior or goddess statue, a bronze rigging ring, lead anchors and 11-centimeter-thick hull planks.

It's a 50-meter long ship: they're really interested in it. However, I really doubt that they found a tablecloth.

#911 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 05:48 PM:

Not so much a dreadful phrase as the complete collapse of everything into a single passage of horror: "Aristotle spent more time deigning the different typed of state & which is the perfect were Eurocentric Plato starts from an ideal stand point and an ideal state of mind, he classifies the actual states."

#912 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 05:57 PM:

Frangano Legister @911 (how appropriate),

DON'T JUMP! You have so much to live for...

Seriously, it looks like a failure to write clearly compounded by a massive spill-chuck failure. "deigning"? "Eurocentric"?

#913 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Seen recently in the wild:

"His alarm clock buzzard woke him up."

Sounds effective!

#914 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 07:31 PM:

'Eurocentric' is a cromulent word. The rest... What makes it worse is that this is from a second attempt by the student. I rather doubt that the student even realises that 'deign' is a verb with an actual meaning.

#915 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 08:07 PM:

I desire to wed
The Synonym Girl
I could be joyous the remainder of my days
with the Synonym Girl

#916 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 10:57 PM:

Fragano @914 and 911, looks to me like this was wrecked mainly by typos: "deigning" instead of "designing," "typed" instead of "types," and "were Plato" instead of "where Plato." If you made those substitutions, then there are still some errors but there's a recognizable thought.

#917 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:01 PM:

916
Automiscorrect at work?

#918 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2014, 11:06 PM:

I'm now having visions of a horror movie involving a Were-Plato.

#919 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 02:00 AM:

A horror someone showed SEVERAL examples of on Twitter a couple of days ago: "I still have the scent of his colon on my fingers."

#920 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 08:04 AM:

speaking of automiscorrect, my (Catholic) church bulletin this weekend said that there would be a second collection for World Mission Sunday and the Propaganda of the Faith.

(It's Propagation of the Faith. I'm sure there are lots of people who think of it as Propaganda of the Faith, but they're probably not contributing to it.)

Also, Em @913, the alarm buzzard made me LOL when I first read it, and it continues to make me smile.

The alarm buzzard squawked. I opened one eye, reluctantly, but didn't move.

The buzzard stretched his neck in my direction.

"Back off!" I said.

He looked me over. "Just wondering, are you getting up this morning?"

"Yes," I snarled, throwing back the blanket.

"Can't blame a bird for hoping."

Some mornings are like that. Thanks for sharing that one.

#921 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 09:59 AM:

Seen in the wild, in a piece about the closure of a hiking trail: It is still possible to assent the volcano

I don't think dissenting the volcano will have much effect.

#922 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Not quite the same, but an illustration of the dangers inherent in getting someone to write about something when they have no knowledge of the subject: Regarding a backpack for runners, "there's a removable bladder sleeve for relieving yourself."

#923 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 10:45 PM:

'going mono e mono'

I don't even.

#924 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 01:45 PM:

Spotted today on a Discovery News post about the Rosetta comet mission: "tell-tail odor" (of hydrogen sulfide).

#925 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 07:17 PM:

This one was in a student essay I read today:

"He proposed that many officials were little versed in scared Scripture and only obtained their positions through bribery, physical violence, servility, or importunity."

#926 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 07:36 PM:

That one actually makes sense - once you correct the typppoo.

#927 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2014, 07:32 PM:

I was just reminded, by a Rube Goldberg chain of thoughts, that I once saw a website explaining how to get html to show č, ř, that called them [their respective base letters] "with hot check."

He'd clearly heard the word háček, and parsed it as an English phrase. Not unreasonable, but not correct. I wrote him a kind email, which he was glad to receive. IIRC he made the correction very quickly.

#928 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 04:58 PM:

Seen on a locksmith's van this morning: locksmith and intergrated systems

I suspect hypercorrection run amok.

#929 ::: Melanie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Seen in an actual photo, "peak cock" scarf.

#930 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2014, 11:43 PM:

From a report on a fired employee:

Termination was not because of a single problem, but rather a marionette of issues.

#931 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 08:27 AM:

Rainflame@930

They hired Pinocchio as an employee?

"That's the last time we accept a reference from Geppetto."

:-)

#932 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 09:30 AM:

I just came across a phrase, and I don't know if it's correct or not. I've said "a whole slew of things" all my life, but never written it down. And I just read where someone wrote "a whole slough of things".

Is "slough" the correct spelling of "slew" here? And how DOES one pronounce slough-as-marshland as in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? Slew? Slahw? Slow? Sluff? I can make arguments for all of the above....

#933 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 09:35 AM:

Merriam-webster says the verb rhymes with buff here . And the noun rhymes with blue.

I guessed right on one of them!

#934 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 10:44 AM:

I think there's a British-v-American difference on "slough". I've always pronounced the noun like the town, as in "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!/It isn't fit for humans now", and a hasty dictionary check confirms that's not just me blithely getting it wrong all my life.

#935 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Cally Soukup @932: As I recalled, and confirmed by checking in the New Oxford Dictionary of English, it's "slew" (informal, chiefly North American, a large number or quantity of something).

#936 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 10:54 AM:

Thanks Sandy, James E, and dcb! So it was a Dreadful Phrase after all.

A slew of stuff.
A slough is a kind of marshland that rhymes with blue or now, depending on where you're standing,
and when a snake's skin is sloughed his new skin looks buffed. Got it.

#937 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 11:22 AM:

"You're becoming an expert at debuggering."

So I was told yesterday by a fellow programmer.
I just didn't have the heart to point out the embarrassing typo to the young lady.

#938 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 11:33 AM:

#937 Do I even want to think about how that would be done?

#939 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Just to complicate matters further a "slough" in the US seems to mean a swamp, pond or river side-channel, depending again on where you're standing.

(Meanwhile, checking etymologies reveals that "slough" is not as I suspected related to "sluice", but "slew" may come from the same Gaelic word for army from which we get "slogan"…)

#940 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 11:47 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 938... If someone knows, hopefully he/she will write it in the Anals of Impossible Human Acts.

#941 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 11:48 AM:

Well, if the program is totally buggered, that's fairly apt.

#942 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 03:09 PM:

Serge Broom @937 et seq.: I hope you're not debuggering mainframes. That would lead to a regrettable decline in dinosaur sodomy.

#943 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 03:15 PM:

Seen in the wild today-- "I didn’t say it was going to be my first case scenario." Which wasn't really all that dreadful, in context.

#944 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 04:49 PM:

Jeremy Leader @ 942... No mainframe and no eunuch... I mean... unix...

#945 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 03:09 PM:

"[Such and such] is canon-complacent."

Seen on Tumblr, where there is no good way to gracefully, privately correct such errors...

#946 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 06:13 PM:

Some troll on Twitter tried to tell me "the blank panthers" were a terrorist group.

I wonder what blank panthers are? Do they wear no-face masks?

#947 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Blank Panthers is the name of my Henry Mancini tribute band.

#948 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 05:06 PM:

From a paper I'm marking: "Seize to exist".

#949 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 05:08 PM:

The Blank Panthers are clearly a neutrois radical movement.

#950 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2014, 07:17 PM:

They're the militants of the Blank Generation.

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