Archive for Errors

Freeest or freest

I wrote this sentence:  "Hong Kong was one of the freeest cities on earth".  My automated spell checker flagged "freeest", so I changed it to "freest", and the spell checker let that stand.  But in my mind I was still saying "freeest", with two syllables, whereas when I see "freest", it's very hard for me to think of that as having two syllables.  So how are we to pronounce the superlative degree of the adjective "free"?

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So borrowing and meaningless

As is my custom, I was zipping along merrily, letting my fingers dance on the keys to transfer my thought-flow into typed words.  Usually when I'm in a good mood and this happens — which is almost always — I'm thinking thoughts in my head (speaking the sounds of the words I want to type) and letting the neuro-muscular synapses and reflexes take care of the actual writing.  It's really quite a nice, pleasurable collaboration between mind and body.

So, my normal practice is to think thoughts, "let my fingers do the walking", and enjoy watching what appears on the computer screen.  But I do have to keep an eye on what my fingers are producing, because sometimes it is hilariously wrong and only tenuously connected to what was going on in my brain.

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NYC crotch

News you can use, from The Forward: "Etsy vendor who doesn’t know Yiddish accidentally sells 'NYC crotch' face mask" (Aiden Pink, May 26, 2020).

A vendor on the e-commerce site Etsy wanted to sell facemasks that said “NYC Strong” in Yiddish – but the final product said “NYC Crotch” instead.

The vendor Tees Go Bling, based in Wyoming, offers dozens of glittery facemask designs for sale, including images of the American flag and the Disney logo, as well as slogans of support for various cities like “Detroit Strong” and “Chicago Strong.”

The trouble began when they tried to sell a “NYC Strong” mask using the Yiddish word for strong, shtark. But while Yiddish is written right-to-left, like Hebrew, the Yiddish letters in shtark [שטאַרק] were printed left-to-right [קראַטש], meaning that anyone looking at it the correct way would read shtark backwards – as “crotch.”

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Goonerisms spalore!

"Prinderella and the Cince Told by Cynthia Hall Domine"

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"Crisis = danger + opportunity" in America and in PRC official media

From Gillian Hochmuth:

Thank you for your great explanation of the reasons behind the famous Kennedy "crisis" misquote. When I was in high school, I had a friend who was Chinese and spoke Mandarin fluently, who explained it to my US History class after the teacher quoted Kennedy. That was over 20 years ago and I remembered that his quote was wrong, but could not remember the explanation I was given well enough to explain it to someone else.

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"One I first saw": more on homophonically induced typing errors

A little over a week ago, I described how I mistyped "stalk" for "stock".  That led to a vigorous discussion of precisely how people pronounce "stalk".  (As a matter of fact, in my own idiolect I do pronounce "stock" and "stalk" identically.)  See:

"Take stalk of: thoughts on philology and Sinology" (3/29/20)

I just now typed "One I first saw…" when I meant "When I first saw…".

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Stay uninflected!

Students, former students, colleagues, and friends all around the world have been sending me best wishes during this age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their impression is that things in America now are particularly bad. They offer me face masks and other PPE, they worry about my health, they give me all sorts of advice.

I just received my favorite piece of encouragement thus far from a student who is stuck in Beijing:

"Stay uninflected!"

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Take stalk of: thoughts on philology and Sinology

In a note I was composing to some friends, I just wrote "let's take stalk of…", was surprised and smiled, corrected myself, and continued writing.

But then I paused to reflect….

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Xiist music

Allusions to Language Log posts abound:

 

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"Crisis = danger + opportunity" redux

From IAS: Institute for Advanced Study; Report for the Academic Year 2018-2019, p. 8:

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Brain Brian

Alan Kennedy, a dealer of Oriental art based in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles, who was a student of the polymath Schuyler Van Rensselaer Cammann (1912-1991; "Ki" to his friends and acquaintances) at Penn half a century ago, and who is a regular reader of Language Log, sent me this message:

I see a comment from Brian Spooner, and had no idea that he was still at Penn.  Decades ago, one of his students told me that he was sometimes called Brain in Afghanistan.  Apparently someone there had transposed the 'a' and the 'i' in writing his name.

My reply to Alan:

Hah, that's an appropriate transposition!

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"Will life be better in the coming year?"

So asks the Chinese colleague who sent me this photograph:

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An odd error

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