Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

Annals of error: water canons

September 1, 2019

In recent tweets from Hong Kong about protests and the governments attempts to put them down, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof repeatedly writes water canon instead of water cannon (both with /kǽnǝn/) — not an uncommon sort of spelling error, but somewhat surprising from an experienced journalist, and one that introduces an unintended misinterpretation, since it happens that CANON is the spelling of an English word (a number of different English words, in fact) distinct from CANNON. And that opens things up for little jokes about what a water canon might be. On Facebook I was responsible for one such joke, a bit of musical foolishness:

The reference is of course to the round “By the Waters of Babylon”. Though I doubt it’s effective against throngs of protesters.

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Joke malaprops

July 10, 2019

The 6/13 One Big Happy, in my comics feed yesterday:

Philatelist as a (classical) malapropism (CM) for fatalist — an error that might on some occasion have occurred in actual speech (though I have no occurrences in my files), but which functions here entirely as a joke.

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Count of Denmark

July 8, 2019

The One Big Happy cartoon I posted about this morning, in “Nudie Tales”, had Ruthie mishearing new details as nudie tales. That reminded Gadi Niram of this Mexican cartoon (from the webcomic La ViñetaThe Vignette‘), turning on a similar mishearing:


(#1) con D de Dinamarca ‘with the D /de/ of Dinamarca (Denmark), with D as in Denmark’ misheard as Conde de Dinamarca ‘Count of Denmark’ (Denmark does have a number of counts): “Oh, sorry, I didn’t recognize you, Tavid, Count of Denmark”

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Nudie tales

July 8, 2019

The One Big Happy from 6/11 (in my comics feed today), in which Ruthie mishears a stock expression from tv news reporting:


Said: new details. Heard: nudie tales.

The stock expression is new details (sometimes more details, occasionally just details), frequently at 11 (because 11 p.m. is the conventional time for the late evening news in the US), but other times are of course possible (e.g. at 6), as are continuations like soon, later, and coming.

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Over the edge with formulaic language

June 22, 2019

It looks simple at the start, but then (as Mark Liberman explained earlier today on Language Log, in “[REDACTED]’s “cocked and loaded”: a tangled history”), it gets intriguingly convoluted.

It starts with Iran shooting down an American drone, upon which Helmet Grabpussy first ordered a military strike on Iran and then called it back. Grabpussy tweeted:

(#1)

And with “cocked & loaded”, we were off into the worlds of technical terminology, formulaic expressions, and speech errors — and then, thanks to Bill Maher, gay porn videos.

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Annals of misreading: CEAUSESCU

June 4, 2019

Yesterday on Facebook, current political events brought me to a name from the past:

Arnold Zwicky: Topics suddenly resurrected from the past: the Ceausescus. Because of the solid diplomacy accorded to them by the British royal family when the Romanians came on a state visit. If them, then anyone.

Bert Vaux: Interestingly I first read that as “the Caucasus”…

Dennis Preston: And I read “caduceus.”

John Lawler: It took me quite a while to resurrect čaušɛsku.

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News for penguins: the misread petrel

May 15, 2019

Passed along on Facebook recently, a BBC One clip from 12/13/18, with this header:

(#1)

I read the header before I looked down at the scene. And what I read was:

Emperor penguin chicks take on a giant pretzel

I found this mightily puzzling. The Giant Pretzels of the Antarctic? Then I saw the petrel.

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If you can’t spell it, you can’t sell it!

April 16, 2019

A mailing from Joe and the Juice today, with the header

(#1)


(#2) The pronunciation (or pronuciation) given is, in full, ॑AH – SAH – EE॑

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Fickle tart

April 13, 2019

A NYT food story by Alexa Weibel on 4/8/19:


(#1,2)

I found the food overly precious (Weibel says fastidious), but mostly my eye was caught by the head “A Savory Tart for a Fickle Season”, which seemed to me to be just inviting the unfortunate Spooneristic speech error savory fart for a tickle season (with the onsets /t/ … /f/ exchanged, or reversed).

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Roland B. McRiver

March 11, 2019

In my comics feed yesterday (presumably originally in print on 2/11), a One Big Happy in which Ruthie uses a doll to take on the personality of Tina Turner covering the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Proud Mary” — “Rollin’ on the River”:


(#1) Ruthie burlesquing “Rollin’ on the River” as “Roland B. McRiver”

Background: the CCR song, the Tina Turner version, Tina Turner herself, the Tiny Tears doll — a ton of pop culture. And then Ruthie’s burlesque, which reproduces, in its mangled way (Joe: “Make her stop. PLEASE!”), all three verses of the original and its chorus.

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