Oops: a listening guide

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The latest installment of WNYC's show Radiolab is entitled "Oops," and it's about how we so often get tripped up by the unintended consequences of our actions. Hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad brought me in to the studio to share some classic word-processing Oops-es. I talk about various search-and-replace howlers, including the spellchecker-aided miscorrections known in these parts as "Cupertinos." Have a listen here.

Loyal Language Log readers will be familiar with many of my examples. They're sprinkled throughout the first half-hour of the show, so I've put together a listening guide with links to relevant posts.

(0:55) "Tyson Homosexual"
(2:40) "Back in the African-American"
(3:10) "Walter Leland Mr. Cronkite"
(13:30) The Cupertino effect (first discussed here, followed by many more posts)
(26:00) "Queen Elizabeth… lays up to 2,000 eggs a day"


  1. Rubrick said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    Congrats! I assume you're aware of the legendary D&D "dawizard" incident?

  2. Stephen Seidman said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 9:31 am

    My favorite "correction" is when Word insisted on changing a colleague's name from Gupta to guppy.

  3. richard howland-bolton said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    A few weeks ago New Scientist carried in its Feedback column"
    '…Eddy Barratt tells us that when he was working as a lifeguard, he and his colleagues used first-aid course books provided by the Swimming Teachers' Association.

    "There must have been some debate about whether would-be casualties should be referred to as customers, as you would expect in a public swimming pool, or pupils, as you would expect from a swimming teacher," Eddy tells us. "The former must have been favoured in the end though. We were instructed, for certain conditions, to check to see if the customers were dilated."'

    Of course I suppose they may just have been dealing with extremely pregnant casualties.

  4. richard howland-bolton said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    Oops! That first double quote should be a colon.

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