Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

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:

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Pin the Apostrophe on the Word.

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

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Ken Krimstein

July 25, 2015

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

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The P is silent.

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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PT

March 9, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

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

fagoot

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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WHISK(E)Y

October 31, 2014

On the 28th, I posted “Drunk on words, and a lot of whiskey”, on Dylan Thomas. To which Bill Halstead cried out in pain on Facebook:

“whisky” No ‘e’!!!!

I replied:

I carried over the spelling from the NYT story, which, being American, used the American spelling, with the E; the British and Canadian spelling lacks the E. There’s no winning here: omitting the E would mis-report the NYT, but keeping it is incorrect from the British point of view. A sensible person would just treat the two spellings as interchangeable alternatives.

This is a classic case of conditions in conflict, in particular faithfulness (Faith), saying (among other things) that a quotation should be faithful to its source (so: WHISKEY when quoting from the NYT), vs. well-formedness (WF), saying that a quotation should be well-formed according to the practices of the original source (so: WHISKY when quoting from a UK source about Scotch).

(A complexity here is that the NYT was pretty obviously not faithful to its sources, which were British.)

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Impostor Syndrome

October 30, 2014

A piece on this phenomenon, posted recently on Facebook, came with this Brad(ford) Veley cartoon:

Note the variant spellings.

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How do you spell /fæp/?

September 16, 2014

The story so far concerns three items pronounced /fæp/:

(fæp-1) an exclamation of annoyance, similar to drat!

(fæp-2) an onomatopetic expression, representing the sound of vigorous male masturbation

(fæp-3) a verb meaning ‘to masturbate vigorously’ (of a man)

(The first is discussed here, the others on 9/10 here, where the second is taken to be the source of the third, and on 9/11 here, about the second.)

How do we spell these items? As far as I can tell, the first has only the simplest available spelling, FAP, but the sexual items show variation between FAP and FAPP. What to make of this?

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