The Associated Press reports:
America's first legal gigolo leaves rural brothel
LAS VEGAS — America's first legal male prostitute has left a rural Nevada brothel after a two-month stint that generated plenty of attention but fewer than 10 paying customers.
Brothel owner Jim Davis said Friday his Shady Lady Ranch had parted ways with the nation's first "prostitude."
Prostitude? Really? That caught the eye of Amy West, who read the wire story in The Boston Globe and posted about it on the American Dialect Society mailing list. Amy rightly suggested the blend should be prostidude.
You can easily find reporting on the prostidude or prosti-dude, including local coverage from The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Some news outlets even managed to correct the AP story by using prostidude instead of prostitude, like The Nevada Appeal and The Globe and Mail. Cheers to them. But jeers to syndicators of the wire story who either repeated the error or compounded it, Cupertino-style. CBS News, The Canadian Press, and several others must have run the AP's prostitude through their spellcheckers and miscorrected it to prostitute, resulting in this surprising sentence:
Brothel owner Jim Davis said Friday his Shady Lady Ranch had parted ways with the nation's first prostitute.
So much for the oldest profession!
There's another Cupertino error that results in prostitute, by the way. Here's something I wrote in a 2005 post on spellchecker miscorrections (before I knew that this phenomenon had been dubbed the Cupertino effect):
Back in 1996, this example was noted by a contributor to the Usenet newsgroup alt.usage.english:
This happened a few weeks ago to the menu of a well-to-do restaurant here in San Francisco. The menu was spell-checked, printed, and a copy displayed in the window of the restaurant (as is the custom here). Nobody noticed that the spell-checker turned "warmed spring salad greens with prosciuto" into "warmed spring salad greens with prostitutes."
I'm guessing that the restaurant menu actually had singular prostitute in place of the intended prosciutto (or prosciuto, if the writer missed the extra t) — amazingly enough, the custom dictionary in my copy of MS Word accompanying Office XP still doesn't recognize the spiced Italian ham and suggests prostitute instead. (There's a Sopranos joke in there somewhere.) Others have fallen prey to the same unfortunate replacement, as in this recipe appearing on a message board for Italian food:
Crumble bread sticks into a mixing bowl. Cover with warm water. Let soak for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Drain. Stir in prostitute, provolone, pine nuts, 1/4 cup oil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.