Archive for the ‘Misreadings’ Category

Briefly: a chain of misreadings

August 29, 2016

Caught out of the corner of my eye:

Queensland Monsoons

Hmm, I thought, I hadn’t heard of heavy rains in northeast Australia, so I looked a little more closely and got

Queensland Maricons

Well, yes, there are plenty of queers in QLD, but not all that many Hispanics, and anyway, shouldn’t it be maricones?

Then I actually focussed on the phrase and saw that it was

Queensland Maroons

which was even more puzzling.


Briefly: a catamitic misreading

July 2, 2015

Another “out of the corner of the eye” misreading, from the front page of the NYT yesterday (July 1st). What I thought I saw was the teaser head

A Love Tested by Catamites

As I tried to imagine how the story went, I focused more carefully on the page, and saw the head

A Love Tested by Calamities

And then I wondered about the history of catamite.


Briefly: A misreading

June 23, 2015

Seen (in the NYT) out of the corner of my eye this morning:

The Iron
Dean’s Fatal

When I gave it my full attention, I saw that the head was actually:

The Iran
Deal’s Fatal

Later it occurred to me that my own mishearings were also mostly collected in contexts of less than full attention, as in overhearings in public settings while I was engaged in conversation myself.

When I focused my attention


March 28, 2013

(Postings beget other postings.)

People have been writing me to say that at first they misread abutilon in my posting on this plant as ablution. In Google+, Robert Coren called this an “anagrammatic” misreading; this isn’t literally so — people aren’t going to misread glean as angel, for instance — but it’s right in spirit. Three things are crucial: the status of abutilon as a very rare word, one that many people don’t know at all and others see very infrequently; the relationship between the spellings ABUTILON and ABLUTION; and the frequency of TION as word element in English.