or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Acting Out

If you are a putatively respectable British newspaper and don't bother to hire any editors to make sure that the text is accurate and properly spelled and so forth, then you should be properly ashamed of yourself, despite the probably correct assumption that nobody these days will notice. If, on the other hand, you don't direct your writers and compositors to at least run everything through a spellchecker, well, you ought to be put of of business, that's what.

The headline

Amy Winehouse pleads guilty to pantomime assault

in this Times Online story would be bad enough in any case, because as Jim pointed out to me this morning, "pantomime" can function as a noun or an adjective, which means that the reader doesn't know if the chanteuse in question 1) assaulted someone at a performance of a pantomime or 2) simply mimed an assault and, for all we know, accidentally punched someone in the face.

It is, naturally enough, the former, but in fact this is the headline that was published:

As Wikianswers wryly notes after defining the intended word with a straight face, "pantomine" is "a common but incorrect spelling of the word 'pantomime'."

That's not to say that "pantomine" doesn't look at least plausible: "-ine" is a fairly common suffix in English used to indicate an adjective: "porcine", "piggish", for instance, or "sistine". Nevertheless, it is wrong, and the fact that it ever saw the light of day is disgraceful but not that surprising. Not any more.


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