Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

Desert Island spelling

October 15, 2021

A wrenchingly funny E. S. Glenn cartoon in the latest (10/18/21) issue of the New Yorker:


(#1) The usual tiny cartoon Desert Island now has two neighborhoods: the customary grassy tropical island, plus a small beach zone, suitable for message-bearing  bottles to wash up on

Side notes: the castaway is shoeless, shirtless, and gaunt, his  makeshift cutoffs worn and patched — clearly, in a bad way. Meanwhile, Glenn has contrived to identify the castaway as Black (without shading his skin, as he did for the castaways in an earlier DI cartoon, reproduced below). Further, the cartoon imagines messages in bottles to be a kind of marine postal service, in which specific senders and receivers exchange messages in slow motion over great distances.

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How does Wilderrama sleep at night?

September 4, 2021

From the tv series NCIS, Season 14 Episode 6, “Shell Game”, an exchange between the NCIS-Agent characters Tim McGee (played by Sean Murray) and Nick Torres (played by Wilmer Valderrama, whose name I am forever telescoping into the portmanteau-like Wilderrama) that turns on joking with senses of the interrogative adverb how — in McGee’s question “How do you sleep at night”, intended to convey modal + means how ‘by what means is it possible?’; and Torres’s response “On my back. Naked.”, conveying truth-functional + state how ‘in what state?’.


(#1) Torres and McGee in the NCIS episode “Love Boat”, Season 14 Episode 4

Then I turn to WV the man, as a hunk with a wonderful smile (two things I post about on a fairly regular basis), and as a performer with a notable actorial persona.

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From the culture desk: admirable words, admirable things

September 2, 2021

(Plain-spoken appreciative references to penises and fellatio, plus an extended and explicit man-on-man sex scene, so not appropriate for kids or the sexually modest.)

Gastronomy, essays, calliphallicity, poetry. Starting with the New Yorker on 9/6/21 — “Food & Drink: An Archival Issue” — in a “Gastronomy Recalled” column there. From the print magazine, the head and subhead for the piece:


(#1) From the great gastronomic essayist M. F. K. Fisher

Then from the on-line magazine, this version, with the accompanying photo (by Carl Mydans / The LIFE Picture Collection / Shutterstock) and its caption:

(#2)
One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dish.

But, with my imperfect aged eyes — I now misread things so often I’ve pretty much stopped cataloging my errors — and my penis-attuned brain — I am an unapologetic phallophile —  what I read was:

One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dick.

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Twirly and girly

August 3, 2021

The One Big Happy from 6/5, in which Ruthie struggles, eggcornishly, to rationalize an unfamiliar name with familiar parts:

Mary, Susan, whatever.

Meanwhile, I now have “Honey Bun” from South Pacific in my head:

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proofreading

July 14, 2021

🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷 The One Big Happy strip from 5/28:

We all, from time to time, come across a word we haven’t experienced before (or didn’t register having experienced it), and just guess, often tacitly, at its approximate meaning as the world goes on around us. Little kids, having had much less linguistic experience, do this all the time; they pretty much have to.

To this end, they use similarities to words or parts of words they do know, and Ruthie is an especially analytic kid, keen on finding word-parts in unfamiliar material — plenty of examples in earlier OBH postings on this blog. In this case, the word is in fact straightforwardly analyzable into two familiar parts, and Ruthie gets that.

Oh, but what are those parts? Phonologically /pruf/ (a N spelled proof) and /rid/ (a BSE-form V spelled read).  No problem with the second, but there are several Ns proof; the compound proofread is an idiom with one of those Ns in it, but not the one that Ruthie detects.

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tenure, tenor, tenner

June 15, 2021

The One Big Happy cartoon from 5/21, in which the word tenor (which is apparently unfamiliar to Ruthie) leads Ruthie to a word with a similar pronunciation, whose meaning she knows (at least approximately) — tenure:


(#1) I got tenure at Ohio State in 1970, but the singing boyfriend didn’t come along until years later

That’s an error taking us from tenor to tenure. Meanwhile, on the comedy stage, a pun takes us from tenner to tenor.

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The bristly brute

February 24, 2021

On Reddit on 2/22, posted by u/Tom7454:

“On the anniversary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s birth, David Bather Woods, a Schopenhauer expert at the University of Warwick, recommends five books on Schopenhauser.”

The typo was quoted on Facebook on 2/22  by Wendy Thrash, who explained the intervention of Schopenhauser:

“Because nobody wants to read about Schopenhauer.”

The pointer is to Five Books, a site with book recommendations from authorities; each recommendation is for five books on a specific subject, in this case David Bather Woods on Arthur Schopenhauer:

(#1)

Which inspired me to light verse:

Schopenhauser
Was a schnauzer
A bristly brute that
Played the flute

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The mystery scribble

September 19, 2020

I wrote about this on Facebook yesterday, but now (at Ellen Kaisse’s urging) I’ve managed to get an image of the mystery scribble to preserve in my WordPress archives.

The set-up: I sometimes jot down stuff from dreams during the night, usually just a word or two, but occasionally something longer. (Not infrequently this is pointless; because of my disabled right hand, I often can’t read my own handwriting.) A message from the middle of last night appears to say:

circuses engines — need recovery from moon craters

I am baffled. Don’t know whether that’s because I’m reading the message wrong, or whether the idea is just loony. (I also sometimes get hot inspirations about linguistics in my dreams, and these always turn out to be incoherent or stupid. No benzene rings for me. More detail below.)

Later: well, maybe “churches engines”; I reject “carcuses engines” (carcasses engines?), but none of the possibilities make any sense.

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The horse on Seventh Avenue

August 18, 2020

A cartoon posted on Facebook by Stephen Zunes, who might or might not be its artist (hat tip to David Kathman):

Ah, a mishearing, leading to this excellent phonologically minimal mondegreen.

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Zippy philaconfusion

August 9, 2020

(There will be a brief dip into a mansex-steamy Tom of Finland drawing, which might offend some readers.)

Today’s Zippy, in which philandering and philately are confounded:

(#1)

Word confusions are very common; sometimes they are momentary failures to retrieve the intended word; sometimes they are misapprehensions about the target. Zerbina’s error is apparently of the first type, but she nevertheless has a complaint about Zippy’s attentions to her, though the cause isn’t philandering but philately.

The two words share an etymological component, the phil(a)- (originally ‘love’) part, seen also in philosophy, philodendron, pedophilia, Philadelphia, and much more. But this is scarcely obvious to modern speakers of English.

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