(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘errors

“Learning languages is like learning history from the inside out”*…

 

In a way that’s analogous to the evolution of morphology via mutation, the changes in the languages that we speak are driven by “mistakes” that get baked into practice.  For instance…

AMMUNITION

projectiles to be fired from a gun

It is common to misanalyze an article that precedes a word as if it were part of that word. Here the French phrase la munition was misanalyzed so the “a” of the article became part of the word, becoming l’ammunition

ARCHIPELAGO

a group of many islands in a large body of water

The etymology of archipelago seems like it should be from Greek arkhi meaning “chief” andpelagos “sea,” suggesting the importance of a sea with so many islands. The problem is that this form never occurs in ancient Greek, and the modern form is actually borrowed from Italian, with the intended meaning being “the Aegean Sea.” If that’s the case, then the archi- inarchipelago is actually a corrupted version of Aigaion, which is how you say “Aegean” in Greek…

More words that originated in error.

* Eric van Lustbader

###

As we misspeak creatively, we might spare a thought for Baruch (or Benedict) de Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher who lived a quiet public life as a lens grinder– but whose rationalism and determinism put him in opposition to Descartes and helped lay the foundation for The Enlightenment, and whose pantheistic views led to his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam.  He died on this date in 1677.

As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honored save justice and charity.

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 source

 

Written by LW

February 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

R.I.P., copy-editors and fact-checkers…

To begin this morning, a blast from the past, by way of saying Happy Mother’s Day!  Now to more serious matters…

source

source

It’s only natural that, as traditional news organizations shutter bureaus and slash staff, “anomalies” will begin to creep into their reportage– misleading lay-outs, confusing grammar and syntax, outright mistakes…  Consider for example coverage of the big story of May 1…

The Boston Globe‘s story about Osama bin Laden’s death tripped on a homophone: “according to Islamic tradition, his body was washed, wrapped in a white shroud, and given burial rights”; while the Daily Telegraph may have confused readers about the objectives of the attack: “Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the President.”

(Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, the Seals muddled “Osama” with “Obama”, as some other news outlets did.)

These examples, and others, at World Wide Words.  And for a running account of the erosion underway, follow @themediaisdying. (More amusing headlines here.)

As we return to perfecting our Flipboard formats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1951, in New York City, that Hart, Shaffner, and Marx introduced a new sartorial technology: the first men’s suit made with polyester fiber– a blend of 55% Dacron and 45% worsted wool. (It was another decade before the introduction of the leisure suit, and yet another before it became a cultural landmark.)

source

We stand corrected…

As 2009 draws to a close, and we do our best, with an eye to a better 2010, to learn from our errors, the good folks at Regret the Error have helpfully compiled “Crunks 2009: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections.”

It features such capital corrections as this, from the British Medical Journal:

During the editing of this Review of the Week by Richard Smith (BMJ 2008;337:a2719,doi:10.1136/bmj.a2719), the author’s term “pisshouse” was changed to “pub” in the sentence: “Then, in true British and male style, Hammond met Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, in the pub and did a deal.” However, a pisshouse is apparently a gentleman’s toilet, and (in the author’s social circle at least) the phrase “pisshouse deal” is well known. (It alludes to the tendency of men to make deals while standing side by side and urinating.) In the more genteel confines of the BMJ Editorial Office, however, this term was unknown and a mistake was made in translating it into more standard English. We apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

And this, from the Los Angeles Times:

Bear sighting: An item in the National Briefing in Sunday’s Section A said a bear wandered into a grocery story in Hayward, Wis., on Friday and headed for the beer cooler. It was Thursday.

… Such exalted errata (and consequent apologia) as this, from The Sun (UK):

In my column on August 22 I suggested that Sharon Osbourne was an unemployed, drugaddled, unfit mum with a litter of feral kids. This was not intended to be taken literally. I fully accept she is none of these things and sincerely apologise to Sharon and her family for my unacceptable comments. Sorry Sharon…

…Such terrific typos as this, from The Daily Universe, a student paper at BYU:

In printed copies of Monday’s Daily Universe, due to a spelling error in a photo caption, the word “apostles” was replaced with a different word. The Daily Universe apologizes to the Quorum of the Twelve and our readers for the error.

(The spelling error appeared in a photo caption in which the word “apostle” was rendered as “apostate.” In referring to activities at the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last weekend, the caption read in part, “Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates and other general authorities raise their hands in a sustaining vote…”)

And it features some exquisite headlines of the poorly-chosen sort, like the one at the top of this post and this particularly tasteless use of the First Children:

See more in each of these categories and others (e.g., Sources, Misquotes, Hoax) here.

As we wonder how many of the wounds afflicting the traditional press are self-inflicted, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that James Joyce’s semi-autobiographical Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in New York (having been previously serialized in Ezra Pound’s review The Egoist). It was published in the UK the following year.

Cover of the first edition (title in relief)

Your correspondent’s time in the land of consistent snow and occasional power continues; so per earlier alerts, (Roughly) Daily is unlikely to be roughly daily again until early in the New Year…

%d bloggers like this: