Unforeseen circumcisions: dual misfirings

« previous post | next post »

Sign on the door of a Pizza Hut eatery in Timmins, Ontario:


(source)

Of course, it's easy to see how "circumstances" can morph into "circumcisions", but Chau Wu has taken the investigation one step further to propose the following as a contributing / initiating trigger for the error:

My hypothesis for the misfiring of neural circuits in the sign writer's brain goes like this:

unforeseen > foreseen > foreskin > circumcisions

This would seem to be a case of dual / simultaneous causation.

It has happened before. See here, for one example among many.

Selected readings



16 Comments »

  1. rm said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 10:29 am

    I think a more likely cause is that most people only look at the beginning of each word and trust whatever autocomplete gives them as a spelling. The writer typed "circum" in"circumstances" and the computer helpfully completed the word. The writer may never have noticed. A number of readers will never notice.

  2. katarina said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 11:20 am

    @rm:

    Indeed.

    I type fast and don't always check my e-mail before sending it.

    Recently I typed "Alfred" instead of "Albert".

    More embarrassingly, once I emailed a message with heading
    "To: Dennis Campbell"

    when it should have been
    "To: Dennis Maxwell".

    I don't know any Alfred or Dennis Campbell personally.

    How does the brain chemically store and retrieve words ?

  3. Robert Coren said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 11:36 am

    rm's suggestion seems about right to me. Or, alternatively, the person typing the text mangled "circumstances" sufficiently that the correction algorithm selected "circumcisions" as the most likely intended word, and (as always) the typist didn't bother to read what they had "typed".

  4. katarina said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 11:57 am

    My message intended for, and sent to, Dennis Maxwell was

    inadvertently typed:

    "To : Dennis Campbell"

  5. Terry Hunt said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 3:46 pm

    I was hoping for an account of that new costumed vigilante, The Masked Mohel.

  6. David Morris said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 4:11 pm

    Google Ngrams shows that 'circumstances' is far more common than 'circumcisions', so 'circumcisions' is unlikely to be 'the most likely intended word'.

    There is a 'schoolchild howler' to the effect that Matthew Flinders circumcised Australia in a 12-foot cutter. (I just typed 'circumstances'.)

  7. mg said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 4:41 pm

    The article linked to in the first paragraph shows that the shop owners have a sense of humor. They provided a follow-up sign advertising a new special:

    In light of recent CIRCUMSTANCES, fora limited time when you buy one regular priced medium or large pizza, you can get the following for only $5!
    Medium Meat Lovers
    Medium Pepperoni Lovers
    Medium Canadian

    No tip required!

    Thank you for your patronage, Timmins!

    https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/content/dam/ctvnews/en/images/2024/1/29/no-tip-required—pizza-hut—timmins-1-6746911-1706556722048.jpg

  8. Jerry Packard said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 6:02 pm

    @katarina
    How does the brain chemically store and retrieve words ?

    Well, the chemical triggers the action potential, which is the firing of the neuron’s electrical charge. The electrical charge then is taken to be the storage. Now, physicists and chemists may disagree as to whether the exchange of sodium and potassium that constitutes the action potential is chemical or electrical, but one thing is certain: all coding and implementation that constitute word storage and retrieval is a function of firing neurons.

    The question is the where and when of word storage and retrieval. As to the where – sometimes is is localizable in global brain terms (frontal, parietal) – but probably even more importantly, the ‘where’ may be which neurons and neural networks are activated for storage and retrieval.

  9. Not a naive speaker said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 6:21 pm

    From Leo Rosten: The Joys of Yiddish

    mohel

    One of the first puns I ever heard was this: "The rabbi gets the fees, but it's the mohel who gets the tips." I puzzled over that one for years.

  10. katarina said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 7:59 pm

    Thank you, Jerry, for the explanation.

  11. thunkii said,

    February 10, 2024 @ 9:54 pm

    I remember most words and names by a combination of first letter and number of letters in the word. Both 'circumstances' and 'circumcisions' have 13 letters and start with C; the confusion would be very easy for me to make.

    Though i probably still would not confuse it with 'caesaropapism', 'calligraphers', or something like that.

  12. David Marjanović said,

    February 11, 2024 @ 10:09 am

    Or, alternatively, the person typing the text mangled "circumstances" sufficiently that the correction algorithm selected "circumcisions" as the most likely intended word, and (as always) the typist didn't bother to read what they had "typed".

    I think that's why defiantly is so common where definitely is called for: people type definately, and the autocorrupt takes that for a transposition error instead of a substitution error.

    I remember most words and names by a combination of first letter and number of letters in the word.

    The number!?! That's the first time I learn of anybody routinely counting the letters in a word.

  13. Vulcan with a Mullet said,

    February 11, 2024 @ 5:37 pm

    Unforeskinned circumcstances?

  14. John J Chew said,

    February 11, 2024 @ 11:00 pm

    I can't be the only one who, with all that prompting, did a double take at what i first read as "dual / simultaneous castration".

  15. Roger Lustig said,

    February 13, 2024 @ 2:54 pm

    Traditionally, there's an 8-day lag after delivery.

  16. Jim Roberts said,

    February 13, 2024 @ 3:27 pm

    David Morris, it may have been partly caused by a slip of the keyboard. Type in "circuma" or "circumc" and my Kindle, at least, has "circumcision" as its first suggestion.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment