or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


A sentence from a not otherwise particularly interesting Slate.com article about the American presidential race:

And suggesting Obama was too media crazed to make time to visit wounded troops on his recent overseas trip, even though he visited woulded soldiers in Iraq, wasn't clean.

No, not "media crazed", though I would have hyphenated that. "Woulded".

Yeah, it's just a simple typo, but it's the sort of thing that even the most cursory second reading or spellcheck would have found. If you wanted to identify the exact moment at which Slate just said, "Fuck it, we're not even going to make the pretense of accuracy any more," then the story's dateline of Monday, Aug. 4, 2008, at 5:27 PM ET would be as good a time stamp as any.


I Googled "woulded" and it's a more common mistake than I would have guessed, since L and N are not that close on the keyboard; it's obvious that people mean to write "wounded", their fingers take over and write "would", and then they just keep going and tack on the suffix. I do that sort of thing all the time. But then I go back and correct it.

One of the first-page Google hits was for a verb-conjugation site called Allverbs. They are, or get their information from, Verbix, which I've used a lot in the past for help with French and German verbs, but no more, I think, because Verbix conjugates "would" all over the place, and if you weren't a native English speaker, you might take its conjugations as gospel if you didn't notice the warning at the top of the page; "Warning! The verb you entered does not exist in the Verbix database. The conjugations may not be accurate."

That doesn't stop them, though, from presenting such things as infinitive "to would"; present indicative "I would, you would, he woulds"; present conditional "we would would, you would would, they would would"; imperative "Let's would"; past conjunctive "I woulded"; and on and on.

In their defense, though I'm not feeling defensive about this, you can type in any nonsense string of characters and Verbix will attempt to fully conjugate it; I fgskjdfg, you fgskjdfg, he fgskjdfgs.... That's not much of an excuse, though, because obviously "would" isn't just some random string of characters: the unword "woulded" showed up in a Google search, which means that the word "would" is in their database of verbs, even though they must know it won't come out correctly. If English isn't your first language and you're a little hazy on modal and auxiliary verbs, then a complete conjugation is capable of throwing you seriously off course, and a little disclaimer at the top isn't enough.


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