40 Comments

  1. Gee, you mean they left the online version in tact?

    (Yes, I know, but that’s another of the goofs I now seem to see everywhere.)

  2. Even major newspapers have had to cut back on staffing. My local editor admitted that editing has suffered.

  3. What I’ve been noticing a lot, but rarely remarked, is “lead” for “led”. It’s a little peculiar, since “lead” has different pronunciations in different meanings, and it’s the “metallic element” noun that is homophonic with the past tense verb “led”.
    And sometimes you can know it must be that error, but if it’s only written the context may half-plausibly support a present tense verb and it can be defended…

  4. Sorry to turn this into a pet-peeves list, but no more than 5 minutes after my previous comment I ran across this in an article : “He wasn’t ever phased.”

  5. And reporters have destroyed the original meaning of epicenter, since they all use phrasings such as, “Silicon valley is the epicenter of all technology.”

  6. From the USA Today: ‘”Everybody is being cautious because we’re still learning about it, but right now you’re sitting in the midst of an influenza seasonal busy-ness,” said Dr. David Hooper, chief of the Infection Control Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.’ I speculate that the writer first wrote business and said “that can’t be right,” so chose to make it a hyphenated word, which the editor also didn’t catch.

  7. O jeez, all this discussion of the word and this occasional copyreader had to look it up. The result, in my dictionary: In an earthquake, the point on the earth’s surface directly above the quake, but in other situations, the “central point.”

  8. Bob, that’s what I meant. Modern dictionaries, being descriptive, tell what people meant when they used a word. The primary meaning of “center” is “central point” and there’s no need to use “epicenter” which, until it got misused by so many people, had just one meaning: the first one you cited.

  9. I’d say for all intensive purposes, the internet economy has rot changes that have literally exploded in newsrooms across the country. Workforces have been decimated, falling by 60%. Irregardless of the challenges, publishers will continue looking for weighs to reduce the affect of these changes.

  10. Those many years ago in publishing, I could see what was coming. Publishers (for the most part) consider editorial content to just be that stuff that stops ads from bumping together. The cheaper they can fill the news hole with copy, the better. So many costs are ever rising–rent, paper, printing, distribution–that they squeeze out the juice where they can–the staff. Heaven help them, but there are always aspirants will to join a publication and work for almost nothing (or, given the practice of unpaid internships, actually nothing). The quality of the work is considered largely irrelevant.

    My hometown newspaper, The Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com has shrunk comically in size as it has lost all classified advertising (and therefore a huge amount of revenue). One way of handling this has been to outsource a huge amount of their copy editing to India. The result is…noticeable. It’s still a decent paper, but it’s merely a shadow of what it was.

  11. The prefix epi- in “epicenter” is from Greek and is used to indicate on top or above.

    That’s also how it works in “epinephrine” though it may not be immediately clear how.
    The relation is through the other name for that biochemical, “adrenaline”. It is produced in the adrenal glands, and their name has in its Latin roots a map for where to find them — on (“ad”) top of the kidneys (“renis”).

    And that is also the source of “epinephrine”, but from Greek instead of Latin. On top of (“epi”) the kidneys (“nephra”).

  12. Arthur: At this point, one meaning of “epicenter” is “central point.” The fact that you could say “center” instead doesn’t negate that meaning, as most words have synonyms that can be used instead. And as with most synonyms, the synonyms are not perfect substitutes. “epicenter” has connotations of importance or disaster that “center” doesn’t always convey. For example, if I say “That swingset is at the center of the recess playground,” I could mean mere geographical centrality, but if I say “epicenter” that connotes a degree of social importance for recess activities that “center” doesn’t.

    SB: “Workforces have been decimated, falling by 60%.”

    This one is fine too.

    Mitch4: “He wasn’t ever phased.”

    And this one is fine, assuming the context is a Star Trek episode.

  13. The fact that you could say “center” instead doesn’t negate that meaning, as most words have synonyms that can be used instead.

    On rec.food.cooking, there was a guy that absolutely hated the term “preheat”. He said it meant exactly the same to say “heat the oven to 350” or whatever, as giving a terminal temperature meant you had to get there before using it. Few agreed with him, but he was undeterred.

  14. There’s a pretty expensive restaurant near my home with a sign outside offering a “prefix dinner menu.”

    You have to wonder about a restaurant owner who can’t get that right.

    (There’s another restaurant one town over, not as posh, offering the same option)

  15. Hill, I’m afraid “prefix” is becoming “correct” by dint of being used by so many restaurants. Etymologists of the future will explain how “prefix” used in this context was a corruption of two French words.

  16. Drifting the thread a bit, we were in a semi-posh ($$) restaurant last week and no ‘jus’ came with the Boeuf au Jus (a/k/a French Dip in less $$ restaurants) . . . the waitress had to go back and request two helpings of ‘jus’ (two persons in the party ordered the same).

    The ‘excuse’ offered was that the menu had changed and ‘the chef wasn’t used to it yet’. 1) even non-chefs know that anything ‘au jus’ comes with ‘jus’; and 2) don’t chefs determine the menu (not a COOK, a CHEF)?

    And . . . gouda cheese for nachos? Anyone ever heard of/tasted that?

  17. Winter Wallaby reveals themselves a 100% descriptivist, ready to roll over and accept whatever incorrect usage has taken the great unwashed by storm. We professional word tinkerers (presuming to speak for CIDU Bill here) have more of a prescriptivist inclination, often trying to hold the hill until the battle is long lost.

    Andréa, Mrs. SingaporeBill has a funny jus story. In Canada, product packaging must have both English and French labelling. A particular grocery chain (now called Metro) has a store brand called “Irresistibles”. When shopping there, we bought a carton of orange juice. The carton was largely printed with the word “Jus” (French for “juice”) above the small rectangular “Irresistibles” logo (logo style https://mckeenmetroglebe.com/product/irresistibles/) and below the logo was a large “Juice”. Below that it showed a picture of an orange and said “orange,” which is acceptable in both languages. She later referred to the brand as “Jus Juice” brand orange juice. She had overlooked the smaller brand-name logo and, being foreign born, just took that to be the brand. Hmmmm. That took a lot of words to tell. Hope it was worth it.

  18. One of the WWE wrestlers (I forget which one) used to have a finishing move called a “Banzai drop.” I’m a fan of Wade Keller, who runs the PRO WRESTLING TORCH website and weekly print newsletter, but it used to drive me crazy that Wade always reported it as “Bonsai drop” — which at least led to to some interesting mental images. (The PRO WRESTLING TORCH is also one of the most common sources I see using “in tact” when “intact” is meant.)

  19. SingaporeBill: I am indeed a descriptivist, willing to accept the the modern usage of “decimate” after a mere 300 years of usage. I haven’t completely surrendered to the great unwashed, though. I still fly into a rage whenever I hear “awful” used to mean bad, and insist that it can only mean inspiring awe. And don’t get me started on people who use “pea” as a singular for “pease”!

  20. The discussion regarding “lead” was interesting, since journalists came up with “lede” to coin the phrase “to bury the lede” (meaning to fail to emphasize the most important part of a story or account). That particular spelling was to sidestep the misunderstanding of “lead”.

    Now, relating to common phrases with words replaced by similar but incorrect ones, known as “eggcorns” (such as “phase” instead of “faze”,etc.), I recently fell into a forum dedicated to discussing them.

    https://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=7042

  21. When 10% of the employees at my company were laid off, I commented that the executives had literally decimated the company. A colleague said “I can’t stand it when people use ‘literally’ when they mean ‘figuratively.'” I just stared at him as if I couldn’t believe he had just said that. The penny must have dropped because he said, “Julius Caesar decimated the enemy’s army. We are not in Ancient Rome any more so we cannot literally decimate anything.”

    I could concede that in the original decimation, victims were selected by chance, which our victims were not.

  22. A lot of people who play tabletop RPGs will tell you there is a difference between role-players and roll-players. The latter never get into character and only care about rolling the dice (preferably to hit things).

  23. I saw my first phase/faze o’ the day, and immediately thought of phasing the person (it was on a listserv I own), but resisted. Had a good chuckle over it, tho.

  24. I’m not sure whether a big plate-glass window is a “lite” or a “light” in the trade. I’ve seen it written both ways. The type of men Snow White hangs out with were “dwarfs” before Tolkien, “dwarves” afterwards. Then there are some that changed over time. “Clew” became “clue”. “Draught” became “draft”. “Draughts” became “checkers”.

  25. Mark, the examples you cite are words evolving to new spellings. In bare/bear, we have two different words with people mistaking one from the other. Like to, too and two.

  26. Since we’re getting into modern usage, I wanted a quote I’d seen about singular “they”. I still haven’t found the one I wanted, but I did find this similar one by someone named “Ian Osmond” (our Ian Osmond?) on Language Log:

    My attitude toward singular “they”:

    Dost thou have a problem with singular “you”? If thou dost not, I have to ask thee: what is thy problem with singular “you”? If thou hast a problem with this, the problem is thine.

    And yes, this also proves perfectly well that singular “they” takes the plural verb, since we don’t say “you ist”, or “you is”.

  27. So, shouldn’t this be ‘not a single pair of them HAS sold’?
    https://www.comicskingdom.com/retail/2020-02-09

    And I’ve noticed lately the use of ‘they’ and ‘them’ for non-binary people . . . from WikiPedia:
    “Some non-binary/genderqueer people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns. Usage of singular ‘they’, ‘their’ and ‘them’ is the most common”

  28. I can bearly believe that it was not corrected – or that it got past the editor to begin with.

    My bears can’t humanly believe it either. 🙂

  29. I came across ‘poured over . . .” (and it wasn’t syrup) in a book last night – I would assume it had been gone over by a proofreader . . .

    If I were a proofreader and the book I was proofing was on computer, the first thing I’d do is run ‘find’ all the ‘poured’ and see if they were all used correctly. Same with other common misteaks, like phase/faze.

    Easy Peasy.

    Time to admit my sin: I’m one o’ those who makes correction in library books. Yep, I got caught and had to pay for the book. Was worth it, tho. And I’m not the only one who does this, as I’ve found corrections in books I’ve never checked out.

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