Archive for the ‘Misreadings’ Category
On the front page of the NYT on 9/11, a headline that I read as
To Texas, Scots
This was deeply puzzling: I didn’t think that either Kurdistan or Texas had sizable numbers of Scots, much less ones passionately engaged in the question of Scottish separatism. But then I looked more carefully at the head, and saw that it had Spur, not Spurn. The Scottish issue has inspired separatist advocates in Flanders, Catalonia, Kurdistan, Quebec, the Basque Country of northern Spain, the Veneto region in northern Italy, Brittany, Friesland, Corsica, the South Tirol, Bavaria, the Swedish-speaking sections of Finland, and yes, Texas.
Sometimes I think I understand where my misreadings come from, but in this case I have no idea.
Occasionally I post some observation about language only to Facebook rather than to this blog (with a link from Facebook), when I think the observation is inconsequential. But it usually turns out that readers find more to say on the topic.
So on the 31st, I noted (in “Annals of headline reading”) that I read what I took to be:
(1) A Plan for Less Trash: Turn New Yorkers Into Composers
(a peculiar idea, but the pull of the familiar word composer overrode the oddness of the thought) for the actual headline:
(2) A Plan for Less Trash: Turn New Yorkers Into Composters
(which makes a great deal more sense).
This encouraged readers to play with the morphological resources of English. (more…)
(Penis imagery alert!)
Stumbled across yesterday afternoon, someone reporting having repeatedly misread Pennies from Heaven as Penis from Heaven — something I’ve done myself on occasion (but then I can fairly be said to have penises on my mind more than most people).
I recently posted on the misreading of abutilon as ablution, an entirely explicable mistake. But some misreadings are baffling.
In my booklet Mistakes (p. 120) I reported that
I read the headline Kin of Slain Nuns Denounce Haig for “Smear Campaign,” first as Kin of Slain Nuts …, then as King of Slain Nuns…
Lord knows where that came from. Or where my misreading of Cairo between Bill Burns as Carol Burnett (reported on this blog, here) came from.
Now, a few days ago, I thought I read
three mint pork sandwiches
on the menu at Gordon Biersch. Well, it was actually three mini pork sandwiches. The words are visually similar, but mint is preposterous in the context. And I’d seen the menu many times before. So: more bafflement.