or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Watch Like A Hawk

Oh, the irony! Computers inside Pfizer, the company that manufactures Viagra, have been infected with malware that makes them helplessly send out spam which is, predictably, peddling drugs!

You'd almost think Pfizer had done it on purpose, since some of the spam is selling black-market Viagra, and they want to sell lots of that, but the spam-bots are also sending e-mails peddling Cialis, Viagra's primary erection-drug competitor.

Unfortunately, the Wired story contains the following sentence:

Products hocked include penis-enlargement products with the names "Mandik" and "Manster," as well as pharmaceuticals like Viagra, the sleep drug Ambien and the sedative Valium.

Now, "hock" is a verb that means "to pawn", which is why pawnshops are also known as "hock shops"; the word comes from Dutch "hok", "prison, kennel", because when you put something in hock, it's penned away where you can't get it (unless you pay to get it back).

"Hawk", on the other hand, is a verb that means "to peddle: to offer for sale", and is related, amusingly, to "huckster", which itself derives from the predecessor to "haggle".

Therefore, the e-mails aren't hocking their wares; they're hawking them.

What do I have to keep saying over and over again though nothing will ever change?

1) Writing errors are bad because they haul the reader out of the flow of the text, which is jarring, and cause the reader to question the accuracy of the writing in general, which is counter-productive. 2) English contains a number of homophones that spellcheckers can never catch. 3) Good writers are expected to have a large enough vocabulary to recognize all the usual ones and at least a goodly number of the rest. 4) Good editors are supposed to catch the mistakes that will creep into the writing of even good writers.


Post a Comment

<< Home