or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dizzy Spell

Goddammit, Salon, what is wrong with you? You're turning into the Globe and Mail of websites--hardly a page goes by without an error of some sort. It's ruining your credibility!

Here's the malignancy in question:

But the best joke this season has to be the introduction of Scott Baio as the Bluths' new lawyer. His name? Bob Loblaw. His television commercial, a parody of those cheesy "Been in an accident?" lawyer ads, is what can only be described as an instant classic. "Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed?" Baio asks. "You don't need double-talk, you need Bob Loblaw!" A voice-over finishes, "Bob Loblaw. No hablo espagñol."

That's a great joke--an ambulance-chaser whose name sounds like "blah blah blah"--but there is no such word as "espagñol". If you're spelling in Spanish, it's "español". If you're writing French, it's "espagnol", without the tilde, because French doesn't use the tilde: the "-gn-" makes that "-ñ-" sound, which sounds like "-ny-", just as it does in Italian ("lasagne").

(By the by, I know that Wikipedia is compiled by just-folks and that anyone can edit it, but there's a bizarre assertion in the entry on diacritical marks, to wit: "Note that diacritic is a noun and diacritical is the corresponding adjective." That simply isn't true: as I have noted before, words ending in "-ic" and words ending in "-ical" are almost always interchangeable as adjectives, and that's just as true of "diacritic" and "diacritical"; they're both adjectives, although "diacritic" is also a noun.)


Not that there's any doubt that spelling matters, but here's a little story from today's News of the Weird:

Florida artist Maria Alquilar returned to Livermore, Calif., in August to fix the large mosaic she created at the city library a year ago when the city paid her $40,000 but failed to spellcheck her names "(Albert) Eistein," "(William) Shakespere," "(Paul) Gaugan," "(Vincent) Van Gough" and seven others. She had initially refused to make the corrections, dismissing the errors as merely "words" and angry at being ridiculed, but she relented after the city offered her $6,000 more.

So it cost the Livermore city council $6000 because 1) some dolt never learned to spell or even use a dictionary and 2) some other pinhead never bothered to check. "Merely words"? I beg to differ. She was making artwork for the city library; can she really believe that words are irrelevant? If so, she was most definitely the wrong artist for the job. (I should note that, while "Shakespeare" is the currently accepted spelling, "Shakespere" was one of the numerous variants that cropped up before spelling was codified by dictionary; the author himself always spelled it "Shakspere". Anything except "Shakespeare" is still wrong nowadays, though.)


Blogger Frank said...

You should edit that Wikipedia article.

That artist slays me. You get paid all that money, but don't bother to check the spelling (though someone should have definitely been looking over her shoulder on that score), and yet you don't care and need more money to induce you to fix your own stupid mistake! Gagh!

Monday, October 17, 2005 1:09:00 AM  

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