Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

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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Hard Tundra

March 4, 2019

Adventures in cross-dialect understanding in the One Big Happy strips of 2/1 and 2/2, both featuring Ruthie and Joe’s playmate James:

(#1)

(#2)

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The didactyl anteater, Anteater D, aka The Antedater

March 3, 2019

It began five months ago, on ADS-L, the American Dialect Society mailing list, with a note from the compiler of the Yale Book of Quotations about a piece he’d recently published:

Fred R. Shapiro, Confessions of the Antedater. Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America 39.1.23-42 (2018).

An engaging and informative essay about finding earlier and earlier citations for English words and phrases. At the time, ADS-Ler Mark Mandel exclaimed:

At first I saw it as “Confessions of an Anteater”!

and Larry Horn chimed in:

Me too … Indeed, my mailer tells me that when I type “antedater” I really meant “anteater”.  Maybe someone should work on a logo

I seconded the suggestion, but then no one did anything until Fred’s piece came up again yesterday, and everybody made the same misreading again — and I came up not with a logo, but with a mascot, an Anteater With a D, the adorable little Silky Anteater didactylus.

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Annals of misreadings: the Cthulhu caper

February 26, 2019

From linguist Avery Andrews on Facebook:


(#1) Avery: “My first reading of this was ‘Cthulhu Towers’, indicating that whatever the top-down constraints on my linguistic processing may be, real world plausibility has at best a delayed effect”

To judge from my own misreadings — some of them reported on in the Page on this blog with misreading postings — real-world plausibility has virtually no role in initial misreadings; we tend to notice these misreadings, in fact, because they are so bizarre.

On the other hand, they sometimes clearly reflect material currently or persistently on the hearer’s mind — if you’ve been thinking about cooking some pasta for dinner, Italian pasta names are likely to insert themselves into your peceptions; if you’re a gardener, plant names will come readily to mind, even if they’re preposterous; and of course it’s common to see sexual vocabulary where none was intended —  but often they look like the welling-up of material from some deep chthonic place in memory, inexplicably in the context.

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Committing a McKean

February 23, 2019

Michael Covarrubias in a comment on my posting yesterday “In the land of supertitles”:

mckeans’s law at work in #4

Michael is pointing to Evidently they longer teach grammar in college, with its crucially missing no. As an instance of a phenomenon that’s been discussed under various names. The name I prefer is a McKean, from McKean’s law — just because I actually know Erin McKean.

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Age cannot wither them

February 11, 2019

Today’s Zippy has Griffy and Zippy marveling, once again, that almost all cartoon characters, themselves included, never seem to age. In particular, Nancy and Sluggo are always and forever 8 years old — in Cartoonland, where age cannot wither them (nor custom stale their infinite variety). But in Ivan Albright’s art world, even Nancy, sturdy Nancy, grows old:

(#1)

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Ruthian lexical items in real life

February 3, 2019

In a private corner of Facebook today, this family exchange:

Child A was very busy.
Parent about A: He has an agenda
Child A: I’m not a gender
Parent: An agenda is when you have something you want to do
Child B: A gender is someone who serves food at baseball games
Parent: That’s a vendor
Child C *dies laughing*

And then from another parent:

My kid was so proud she tried cantaloupe at school. “The fruit, not the animal”

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