Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

The poetry corner

January 19, 2019

Into the lull between Thesaurus Day (the 18th) and Penguin Awareness Day (the 20th), I thrust two bits of poetry taking off from images on Facebook: Make Big Money (brought to me by Kyle Wohlmut) and The Long Room, Trinity College, Dublin (brought to me by Joelle Stepien Bailard):

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Ruthie x 3

December 29, 2018

In my comics feed for One Big Happy: The Huskies play Oregon (11/23), Money is the root of boll weevil (11/28), ABC order (11/30):

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Today’s stunning word retrieval error

November 27, 2018

From Ned Deily on Facebook:

Today’s Revisionist Word Fail (as seen in another FB group): “today marks the 40th anniversary of the assignation of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.”

A form-based, rather than meaning-based error, but possibly prompted by spelling rather than pronunciation; the error was in writing, after all.

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What do you have?

November 25, 2018

The One Big Happy from October 12th, a dialogue between Joe and James in which we experience a tiny bit of the fabulous flexibility of the English verb have:

(#1)

James seems not to have registered the noun hobby (‘an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’ (NOAD)) and so takes hobbies in have hobbies to be the name of a disease, infection, or medical condition, like (the) mumps. For him, chickenpox and the mumps, but not hobbies is just an ordinary coordination, but for the rest of us, it’s prime-grade zeugma, like (I had) asthma and artistic inclinations — with the extra wrinkle that though both chickenpox and mumps end in a plural-resembling /s/ (and so superficially resemble the PL hobbies), both are grammatically SG:

chickenpox / (the) mumps once was / *were a common childhood disease, but vaccines have nearly eliminated it / *them [SG for subject-verb agreement and also for anaphor selection]

Two notes: on the morphosyntax of disease names; and on the extraordinary versatility of have (which just invites zeugmas and zeugmoids).

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Annals of error: name retrieval in the news

November 23, 2018

The error, as reported in HuffPo (among many other news sources) on the 13th: by Jenna Amatulli,

New Zealand Newspaper [the Gisborne Herald] Flubs Stan Lee’s Obituary, Writes ‘Spike Lee Dies’

(#1)

Inadvertent errors in retrieving words are common, especially in speech. Some are primarily motivated on phonological grounds, some primarily on semantic grounds, but typically both effects are relevant (some details in a moment). Inadvertent errors in retrieving proper names are particularly common, because everyone experiences a monumental number of proper names, with new ones popping up on a daily basis. In this context, Spike Lee for Stan Lee would be an entirely unsurprising error in name retrieval.

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Annals of word retrieval: in promiscuous positions

November 4, 2018

(Warning: embedded in this posting is a bit of — just barely euphemized — taboo vocabulary and the image of a hunky guy in his underwear.)

From Sim Aberson on 10/29, from WSVN, channel 7 in Miami FL:

BSO deputies arrest Dania Beach man in child porn case

Dania Beach, Fla. (WSVN) – Deputies have arrested a Dania Beach man on numerous child pornography charges.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested 66-year-old Roger Aiudi on Thursday following a months-long investigation by the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Investigators said Aiudi had 13 pornographic images of children and dozens of other images showing children in promiscuous positions.

Well yes, not promiscuous ‘having or characterized by many transient sexual relationships’, but provocative ‘arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately’ (NOAD definitions). This is a very likely sort of word retrieval error, since the words are similar phonologically (sharing the accent pattern WSWW and sharing the initial syllable /prǝ/) and morphologically (both ending in Adj-forming suffixes, –ous vs. –ive) as well as semantically.

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Famous wolf on the Yellow Brick Road

October 31, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy from 10/4, in which Ruthie mondegreens:

(#1)

Yes: the song “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, from the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz, with we’re off (mis)heard as Rolf.

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Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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Two word confusion cartoons

October 13, 2018

The One Big Happy in today’s feed (from 9/16) and the Zippy for today: Nat the name (short for Nathaniel) vs. gnat the insect, both /næt/; and Superfund (‘ a US federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of toxic wastes’ (NOAD)) vs. superfun (‘great fun’, with the prefix super– ‘great, large’), with /fʌnd/ vs. /fʌn/, but usually leveled to the latter via final t/d-deletion before a word beginning with a consonant (here, before the word site):

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Briefly noted 9/27/18: a remarkable name

September 27, 2018

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation periodically revises the format for its on-line statements, including after visit summaries to its physicians and labs. As far as I can tell, every such software upgrade arrives with bugs, sometimes spectacular ones; this is, after, the way of software the world over.

So it was with recent after visit summaries, in which my name at the top was given as

Dr. Zwicky M. Zwicky

I have an idea about how this might have come about. Probably not verifable, since it involves decisions by two different people, neither of whom could easily be identified.

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