Cephalogenic

or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, December 13, 2007

White Knuckles

I've been busy these days; in the world of retail it is, of course, complete insanity, with Christmas less than two weeks away, and I've been reading a lot (The World Without Us, which is pretty good, and The Meaning of Everything, which is generally stupendous), and I just got this new game and have been playing it a lot. I've been writing plenty of pieces for both blogs; I just haven't been finishing them. Nothing, it seemed, could stir me from my winter torpor.

But this! This thing! This thing!

From a recent Slate.com article about gift-giving guides:

Consider this guide, then, perfect for folks who blanche at the mawkishness of those ubiquitous Kay Jewelers ads: Sometimes a miter saw says "I love you" more effectively than a sapphire-encrusted brooch.

I was going to let it go--see how laissez-faire I am these days?--and then I realized that I just couldn't.

Not only is "blanche" wrong, it isn't even an English word. If you capitalize it, then it is: it becomes a woman's name. Otherwise, no. "Blanch", on the other hand, is a word; it means "to whiten", and it is from Old French, where, in the guise of Modern French, it remains as "blanc" (the masculine form) or "blanche" (the feminine).

It shouldn't matter, I suppose. The point was still made; the piece was comprehensible, even with this mistake. But it is a mistake, and it ought to have been edited away, and it wasn't. Are there copy editors any more? Not at Slate, it would seem. And it's a mistake in exactly the same way as using "clothe" instead of "cloth", or "breathe" instead of "breath", would be a mistake. They're wrong. They're just wrong, and no two ways about it.

Mistakes slip into all writing. That's the way of it. But when you make a mistake that looks as if you honestly don't know one word from another, and there isn't anyone around to fix the problem...well, that looks very, very bad indeed.

1 Comments:

Anonymous carosgram said...

I appreciate precision as much as you do. It just makes the world a more orderly place.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 9:03:00 PM  

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