or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Clap

I wrote the word "plausible" in an e-mail just now and then it occurred to me; the word clearly has to be related to "applause", but how?

It turns out that it isn't. No, just kidding; they're from the same root. The original meaning of "plausible" was "deserving of applause"--applause-ible--which over time came instead to mean "deserving of being believed". (In fact, every instance of the letters "-plau-" in an English word comes from the same root: Latin "plaudere", "to applaud".)

Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that I can't turn around without banging into another typo and it's driving me around the bend. I'm not kidding. They're everywhere, and it's maddening. It's like, I don't know, seeing people burning flags on every street corner. Don't people know better? Can't they spell? Are they completely clueless?

Just look at this clause from a review in The Onion of a new book about the Harlem Globetrotters:

...and Meadowlark Lemon, a rote performer who personified the creative draught that drove the team to ruin in the '70s and '80s.

I mean, honestly. I had to re-read the sentence three times before I figured out what was meant. (It's "drought", not "draught", in case that's not absolutely clear.) And look at this abomination from The New Republic about the miserable de-evolution of Sports Illustrated magazine:

In that piece, George Plimpton played an April Fool's Day joke on readers with a profile of an apocryphal New York Mets pitching prospect who's fastball topped out at 168-mile-per-hour.

Three mistakes in one sentence--three mistakes in a single nine-word clause! ("Whose", not "who's": no hyphens, because it's not an adjectival phrase; and "miles", not "mile".) And this from a professional writer, someone who gets paid for it!

I'm pissed off. One doesn't necessarily expect a high level of sophistication from the average scribbler (though it would be nice), but there's absolutely no excuse for mistakes like these, none at all. Professional websites with paid writers and advertising have to adhere to a higher standard than your everyday blogger.


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