What to call editing residues?

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Allegra Kirkland, "Sessions Denies Knowing Of Flynn Turkey Dealings, Alleged Kidnapping Plot", TPM 11/14/2017:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied knowing that former national security adviser Michael Flynn lobbied on behalf of Turkey and allegedly discussed with Turkish officials the possibility of kidnapping of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric while serving on the Trump campaign.

The string of words in boldface strikes me as an unidiomatic blend of two idiomatic phrases, presumably created by an incomplete edit meant to turn one form into the other:

  • the possible kidnapping of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric
  • the possibility of kidnapping a U.S.-based Muslim cleric

Assuming my diagnosis is right, what's the term for errors of that kind? Or is there one?

The obligatory screenshot:


  1. Shira said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

    I have always called them editios. (because typos didn't quite fit the situation.)

  2. Guy said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

    Another fix (though not as good as the other suggestions) would be to put “a” in front of “kidnapping”.

  3. George said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 4:04 pm

    The first of the two suggested alternatives strikes me as being (absent context) quite ambiguous. It could be read as meaning that they had discussed the possibility that the cleric in question had been kidnapped by people who had nothing to do with either Flynn or the Turkish government.

  4. George said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

    Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the original formulation, that the ambiguity was spotted and that whoever made the correction simply overlooked the superfluous 'of'.

  5. George said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

    Doh ! That's presumably exactly what you were saying when you referred to "an incomplete edit meant to turn one form into the other". (Remember, kids, never comment on four hours' sleep…)

  6. Will M said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 4:37 pm

    I was disappointed to find that this post was not about the possibility of Flynn dealing in, and allegedly kidnapping, turkeys.

    (the most seasonal of crimes)

  7. Tancast said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

    In German, I use "Formulierungsartefakt" (or even "Umformulierungsartefakt") from time to time to describe this kind of phenomenon; could maybe translated as "phrasing artifact" (or even "re-phrasing artifact"). Sadly, it hasn't caught on yet, and I always have to explain what I meant by it – which to a certain degree defeats the purpose of inventing the term in the first place.

  8. Christian Weisgerber said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

    Languages with more inflection may be more prone to this as rephrasing and moving parts of a sentence around may change the grammatical case and it's easy to miss fixing an ending. It keeps happening to me in German.

  9. Yuvlomov said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

    Here are some suggestions:
    1. Hybrid-ing
    2. ANGER edit: Action Noun — GERund “edit performance” failure
    3. “Complex complex gerund” edit failure

  10. Viseguy said,

    November 14, 2017 @ 10:33 pm

    Lapsus muris, most likely.

  11. philip said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 12:12 am


  12. Cameron said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 1:12 am

    Maybe you could borrow the term "pentimento" from the art world?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentimento gives:

    "A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent."

  13. Ginger Yellow said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 6:19 am

    I don't have a snappy term for them, but I call them errors introduced during editing when I make them.

  14. guilty bystander said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 6:46 am


  15. fev said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 8:19 am

    I don't know of a word for it, but it's sometimes categorized as "left the scissors in the patient again?" Looks awful on the X-rays.

  16. Miles said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 8:44 am

    Cameron's suggestion works beautifully for me – it uses an existing term (admittedly 'pentimento' is not commonplace, but I remember it from visiting art galleries), and neatly captures that unintended revealing of the creation process.

  17. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 9:45 am

    I've used "edito" and "editing error".

  18. Christy Goldfinch said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

    My mental dictionary has "edit-o," with the hyphen. This is on analogy with "scan-o" (referring to the predictable ligature-related errors that arise during scanning), which has to be spelled as such to be recognized/properly pronounced. "Scano" would tempt a long a, and "scanno" would Look Funny.The hyphen also shows the (my) slight pause between the root and suffix.

  19. Francois Lang said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 12:28 pm

    I prefer "word-o" to "edit-o".

  20. Doug said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 1:21 pm

    If you assume that the second "of" is left over from an incomplete attempted editing change from your first bullet point to your second, then I seem to recall that the second "of" is called a "ghost" from the earlier draft.

  21. Mark Bulger said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 1:38 pm

    Sorry, but I can't help myself. I haven't been to this site for a while, and found what I think is an unfortunate post at the bottom of the page. What I find unfortunate is that those who control the site – a linguistics forum – see fit to use the venue to express their personal political beliefs, and then turn off the 'comments' facility, denying their readers the same opportunity.

    No, I am not a Trump fan – he's a buffoon. And no, I do not own guns, and have no interest in guns. The content of the opinion in the post is irrelevant to me. It's the attitude shown by the poster – "I am capable of commenting on the important and controversial events of the day. And besides, I'm right. The rest of you? You can't be trusted, so I'll just get my lick in and move on.

    It's your blog, so yes, you can do what you want. But you'll be judged by the choices you make.

  22. Jeff Carney said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 2:01 pm

    I like this concept very much, because I teach freshman composition and I run into this stuff all the time. May I suggest "editing crumbs"? What I like about it is that a dim-witted 17-year-old should be able to grasp the concept at once.

    @Mark Bulger: I assume you are referring to a recent post by Geoff Pullum. You should know that he stopped opening all his posts to comments several years ago, regardless of the content — most of which is not political. My understanding is that he no longer has the time to moderate comments as thoroughly as Mark Liberman does.

  23. Kate Gladstone said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 2:15 pm

    I’d call them “editorques” (from EDIT + TORQUE, to denote “torqued editing” and to connote “editing done [as if] by orcs”).

  24. DWalker07 said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 2:21 pm

    The headline for the linked article:"Sessions Denies Knowing Of Flynn Turkey Dealings, Alleged Kidnapping Plot" makes it sound like Sessions is denying something and also he alleged something.

  25. John Roth said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 2:53 pm

    @Will M

    That was my first take on the headline too. It had to do with turkeys. Now that I think of it, doesn't that describe most current government news?

  26. bratschegirl said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

    Perhaps the Cheeto-in-Chief will pardon Flynn along with the requisite turkey.

  27. Andrew Usher said,

    November 15, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

    Though no one else seems to have asked, does the unnecessary 'of' actually violate grammar? I don't think it does. It certainly doesn't change the ambiguity in the sentence (admittedly cleared up by the rest of the article).

    I also saw the article Mark Bulger complains of and likewise considered it inappropriate for the same reasons.

  28. RP said,

    November 16, 2017 @ 6:48 am

    I liked "pentimento" and "rephrasing artefact" the best.

  29. Toma said,

    November 16, 2017 @ 10:07 am

    Voting for "editing crumb" for its simplicity.

  30. Frank said,

    November 16, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

    Editing scars?

  31. Bessel Dekker said,

    November 17, 2017 @ 10:12 am

    But is this an editing residue? Isn't it always difficult to establish how such mixtures come about? I'd call this a "syntactic blend" or a "syntactic contamination". Admittedly, the latter might be viewed as a hyperonym, and even more admittedly, I may be missing the point completely.

  32. David N. Evans said,

    November 18, 2017 @ 3:20 am

    Didn't Eve discuss with Adam the possibility of eating of a tree?

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