Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

Ten language-y comics

September 13, 2015

On the Comics Kingdom blog on Tuesday the 8th: “Tuesdays Top Ten Comics on Grammar and Wordplay” (with grammar, as usual, understood broadly). CK distributes strips from King Features; it’s one of my regular sources of cartoons for this blog. The strips here are all from 2014-15.


Two from xkcd

September 4, 2015

Two recent cartoons from xkcd: #1571 of 8/31, “Car Model Names”; and #1572 of 9/2, “xkcd Survey”, with one question about spelling (“What word can you never seem to spell on the first try?”) and one about words you know (“Which of these words do you know the meaning of?”):




“a fun roof in Gent”

August 1, 2015

So went the message from my colleague Elizabeth Traugott on the 25th, to accompany this wonderful photo:

(This was before Elizabeth went on to Antwerp for the activities of the International Pragmatics Conference; posting here.)

Elizabeth has not yet identified the building for me, but what caught my eye, beyond the roof, was the spelling of the city’s name, GENT (rather than the spelling in English, GHENT). Things are linguistically complicated in Belgium.


Dave Blazek

July 26, 2015

Another cartoonist new to this blog (like Ken Krimstein, recently posted on). The Loose Change cartoon by Blazek below (from 2010) came to me from the Grammarly Facebook page via a friend:


Pin the Apostrophe on the Word.

There’s a rich vein of cartoons mocking English teachers for their purported inclination to focus on minutiae.


Ken Krimstein

July 25, 2015

… the cartoonist, with this cartoon in the July 27th New Yorker:


The P is silent.

I’m charmed by the idea of pterodactyl commuters on the Hudson


Diacritic midges

June 13, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy:

Those itty-bitty dots are a diaeresis, a diacritic that has largely disappeared from use in English-language materials, except (famously) in The New Yorker.


Maiden near heroine epidemic

June 5, 2015

Passed on by Michael Palmer, this front page (of the Observer News Enterprise in Newton NC) posted by Michael Weinheimer on the Errorist Movement site:

Michael Pamer commented wryly:

I, for one, welcome an epidemic of heroines: one can never have too many heroines (or heroes, for that matter). I do feel, however, that it is no business of the public’s whether the person celebrating the adopt-a-cop program is a maiden or otherwise

This is not the only news story reporting the spread of heroin use, especially in rural places, as a heroine epidemic (and there’s a good reason for the spelling error). Maiden, however, is a place name.


Political correctness run amuck, or amok, or whatever

March 18, 2015

Today’s Scenes from a Multiverse (on-line here):

But think of the children, the being on the right objects, while the main speaker espouses rapey misogyny as true art. But my real interest here is in the idiom run amuck — or should it be run amok?



March 9, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

Just a bit of silliness on word-initial PT pronounced /t/ (with a “silent P”).


December 14, 2014

Running the rounds recently, the story of a university lecturer who ranted herself out of her job. From RawStory: “Florida St. communications lecturer resigns after bemoaning ‘Northern fagoot elitism’ on Facebook” by Scott Kaufman on the 10th:

A senior lecturer in the College of Business at Florida State University resigned over the weekend after she posted a torrent of racist, homophobic comments on a Facebook photograph of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The spelling FAGOOT was widely taken to be an illiteracy, but (though the woman seems to be thoroughly repellent) I very much doubt that that’s what was going on.



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