Annals of error: the carptenters of Southwest Ohio

A typo in writing — CARPTENTER, with an anticipation of the T in CARPENTER — which was then not caught by a proofreader, so that it got published looking like CARP-TENTER ‘someone or something for tenting carp’, but written solid. Exposed by Michael Palmer on Facebook on 8/15. The published display, with the beginning of the accompanying news article:

US Senator Sherrod Brown August 15 at 11:09 AM: Today our Butch Lewis Act saved the pensions of 5,400 carpenters in Southwest Ohio, restoring full benefits with NO cuts. When work has dignity, workers can take comfort that the pensions they’ve earned over a lifetime will be there for them when they retire

And then, of course, the playful Facebook comments, starting with Michael Palmer’s initial salvo:

— MP: Who knew there were so many carptenters in Ohio? (For the record, I greatly admire Senator Brown, and I trust the intern who failed to proofread will not be in too much hot water.)

— AZ: Fish in tents! What could that have meant? [an echo of Dr. Seuss’s “Fish in a tree, how can that be?”]

— MP: First you apprentice to a master carp-tenter, then you become a journeyman carp-tenter, traveling the country for 3 years and a day, Wanderbuch in hand, taking what jobs you can, wearing a gold earring to pay for your funeral:

[Reinhard Mey, Drei Jahre und ein Tag]

— Rod Williams [apropos of something entirely different] What makes the Lewis Act so Butch?

Oh my, I’ve been musing on that for some time. I thought that it might be the long arm of Butch Otter, but from Idaho to Ohio is a wicked long reach. And Bolivian robbery looks even more irrelevant. It has occurred to me that carpenters are generally butch fellows, and for all I know, carp-tenters are as well, so the Lewis Act might be inheriting its butchness from them — sort of like subsectivity in compound nouns, with the compounds picking up their semantic and morphosyntactic properties from their heads. As for the initial cap: if Black and White — and Boy and Daddy — why not Femme and Butch?  Twink and Bear? Fag and Stud?


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