Strain Tation

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From, 4/10/022:

I joined a Facebook group for former employees of the Columbus Dispatch. This photo was shared today:

The copy desk was outsourced to some other place – maybe Texas – a while back, and I guess the workload is starting to strain capacity, eh? Either that, or someone started the Saturday-night party a bit early.

The link was sent by Mark Paris, who commented "It’s hard to believe this one is genuine, but it apparently is."

Spoonerisms are rare in typing, as far as I know: lapsus calami (or I guess we should say lapsus digiti, or maybe lapsus digitorum) are very different from lapsus linguae.


  1. Rachael Churchill said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 6:40 am

    I could see this arising from typing "train tation" and then trying to correct it but putting the s in the wrong place (in front of the wrong t).

    Word order transposition typos sometimes happen the same way: someone goes to insert an omitted word and adds it in the wrong place.

  2. Garrett Wollman said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 8:08 am

    My bet: the original hed probably said "deadly station strike", and the overworked copyeditor needed a longer count, so expanded "station" to "train station" but misplaced the insertion point.

  3. David Marjanović said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:27 am

    the original hed probably said "deadly station strike"

    Would "station" alone be understood in Ohio?

  4. Lars said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:41 am

    Anion, cation, tation?

  5. unekdoud said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:45 am

    With a sufficiently lousy mouse/touchpad, someone might fail to select "train station" and instead end up selecting "train " and dragging it into "station".

    …It can't be just me, right?

  6. Alexander Browne said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 10:32 am

    I agree with Garrett Wollman's theory, except that I image "train" was inserted because "station" alone is unlikely to bring to mind "train station" to (non-east coast) Americans.

  7. Alexander Browne said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 10:33 am

    In other words, I agree with David Marjanović from an hour ago :-)

  8. KevinM said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 1:45 pm

    Not that it makes sense in context, but after two years of COVID, "deadly strain" wouldn't immediately feel wrong.

  9. J.W. Brewer said,

    April 11, 2022 @ 9:58 pm

    @David M.: No. "Station" is inherently more ambiguous in 21st century AmEng than e.g. "Bahnhof," even for east-coast Americans, without more context. So when a vintage blues lyric says "I went down to the station / With a suitcase in my hand" that is probably sufficient to clue you in on what sort of station. But this headline on its own needs further specification as to what sort of station. I saw another story on this that used "Rail Station" rather than "Train Station" in its headline, which does save you one glyph.

  10. Picky said,

    April 12, 2022 @ 4:27 am

    When I worked for a living, in the newspaper industry, it was common belief that the larger the type, the more an error was likely to pass unseen.

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    April 12, 2022 @ 4:46 am

    Composing an e-mail just before returning to read this thread, I inadvertently typed "Peter Wohlleben: The heartbeet of trees". Realising my error, I immediately 'corrected' it to read "Peter Wohlleben: The heartbeet of treas". I therefore now know how "Strain tation" could easily have come about.

  12. jjwkroll said,

    April 12, 2022 @ 5:15 pm

    Kudos to Garrett. A check online shows the original AP headline probably ended with just "station strike." An editor just picked up that and needed a quick fix to make the lines come out equal.

  13. Jerry Packard said,

    April 12, 2022 @ 7:32 pm

    If we ignore the orthography-autocorrect-mousing explanations for a moment and view it simply as an oral speech error, it would be a fairly common migration of the initial segment 's' of 'station' to initial position of 'train', triggered by the speaker's anticipation of the 'str' cluster in 'strike'. This is made more plausible by the non-correction of 'tation'.

  14. Philip Taylor said,

    April 15, 2022 @ 7:07 am

    Not a strain tation but a dirport :

    People gather in front of Tbilisi International dirport, Georgia, as they wait for a repatriation flight carrying two Georgian volunteers, David Menabdishvili and Nika Shanava, who were killed during fighting in Ukraine. Photograph: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

    In a Guardian article, caption to sixth image.

  15. David Marjanović said,

    April 16, 2022 @ 1:56 pm

    Ah, so the Grauniad / Garundia isn't limited to metatheses.

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