Failure to fact-check

In my posting yesterday on “infinitesimally small values of huge” in a Multiverse strip, I also picked up on the compound sausage party, referring to a gathering that was mostly or entirely male (with a number of further connotations), and I showed an altered logo depicting a man eating sausages:

saying:

The only thing that’s been altered is the text, which was originally the name, in German, of the sausage company that commissioned the ad and then failed to see how it was likely to be taken.

Well, the background color has also been altered: the version I saw a few years ago (in a collection of unintentionally hilarious, mostly phallic, logos), which turns out to be the original, has a red background rather than a black one. And so has the framing, which was a black-edged or borderless red diamond in that version, and is a black-red-black-edged yellow circle in this one.

And the text has indeed been changed, but not from a German company name.

Company name, yes, but Czech: Kostelecké uzeniny, a firm making sausages and salamis in Kostelec CZ since 1917:

(The logo continues in (proud) use to this day, as you can see on the company’s website. I’ve been unable to discover what the firm thinks about its logo’s phallicity. [Don’t write me to complain that phallicity isn’t in “the dictionary”, so I’m not allowed to use it. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn, whatever dictionary you’re thinking of. I happen to know that it’s not (yet) in the OED, but then neither is phallicness, so I feel entitled to use a semantically transparent bit of derivational morphology, and one that matches latinate affixes, -ity with -ic (yes, yes, I know that -ic isn’t originally Latin, but was borrowed into Latin from Greek, but so what? it counts as latinate in English, and so fits better with -ity than with -ness)[not that -ic-ness is impossible]), rather than use the longer and vaguer phallic quality or phallic character or something of the sort. (The OED currently has a shitload of phall- words — among them, phallic, phallical, phallically, phallicism, phallicist, phallicly, phallism, phallist, all those phall-o- words, the poisonous substance phallin, the pain phallalgia, and the infection phallitis — so I have no qualms about innovating another. [And anyway, I’m far from the first to use the word, as you can see by doing some googling. It has its uses in certain lit-crit circles, and was used in the mocking re-titling “Phallicity of the Ruling Classes” by Helen Dewitt (on her paperpools blog, here) of the poem “Why Are We Naked Again II” by Mithridates (on his Night Hauling blog, here). (I wonder if anyone has assembled a collection of poems on penises. There’s certainly an embarrassment of riches. [Some people think the embeddedness of this paragraph (don’t write me about embeddedness either, you know it will just make me testy [and that comma splice was intentional]) is a sign of a “gay writing style”, but then scholars like Yakov Malkiel and novelists like Nicholson Baker have sometimes indulged in embeddedness, for different reasons, and they were and are, respectively, straight. (And why should I, of all people, care if my writing style comes across as gay? Is it going to, like, ghettoize my writing?)])])])

Ah, the fallibility of memory. In my memory the firm was Austrian, so the logo would have been in German. And then, trusting my memory, I failed to fact-check. (By the way, fact-check is a well-attested two-part back-formed verb, based on the synthetic compound fact-checking.)

As Virginia Heffernan writes, engagingly, in yesterday’s NYT Magazine (a column entitled “The Right Stuff”, which I hope to write more on soon), fact-checking is incredibly tedious and time-consuming; she put in some time as a New Yorker fact-checker, so she should know. I try to do my best to check on facts and spellings of names and attributions and so on in my postings, but my time is limited (this posting has already taken up about three hours), and I often cut corners and slip up. My apologies to the Czech Republic, to lovers of good sausages, and to scholars of phallicity.

7 Responses to “Failure to fact-check”

  1. ShadowFox Says:

    I am used to “sausage fest” rather than “sausage party”, but the meaning is largely (npi) the same.

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