This week’s great typo

On ADS-L yesterday, Joel Berson relayed this story on upskirting (secretly photographing under a person’s clothing; the person is almost always a woman) from the Boston Globe:

Which the highest state court in Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court — the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in America — has just ruled is not illegal.  The activity as well as the word should go viral.

The decision is that “a state law intended to prohibit ‘Peeping Tom’ voyeurism of completely or partially undressed people did not apply to people who take pictures of people who are fully clothed.”

(Yes, upskirting is a Prt + PRP compound; and there’s now a base and finite verb upskirt as well (of course).)

Berson commented:

It’s not clear to me whether the prosecutors blundered in choosing to bring charges under the “Peeing Tom” law when there might have been some other grounds.

To which Victor Steinbok wondered:

Peeing Tom? Did this happen on pubic transportation?


3 Responses to “This week’s great typo”

  1. javava2012 Says:

    Arnold,On today’s Morning Edition, Linda Wertheimer said, in reference to a huge sum of money missing from Ukraine,”how do you disappear that much money?” –On the subject of This week’s great typo, if a woman were peeking up another’s skirt, would she also be peering?Doug Harris Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2014 15:27:21 +0000 To:

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Transitive disappear has quite a history; not a typo at all, but a causative transitivization of an originally intransitive verb.

      I assume that a woman peeking up another woman’s skirt (no doubt this has happened) would be treated as upskirting.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    To expand on Victor’s question: as Victor noted in e-mail to me, there are spots on the MBTA (in the Boston area) where the stench of urine is quite strong. So peeing Tom would be a cute invention — but I see no evidence that this is what Joel Berson was doing. And peeing Tom for peeping Tom would not be a plausible pronunciation in Bostonian varieties. So the MBTA connection, though entertaining, is a side discussion, a red herring.

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