or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, April 16, 2010

Particle Physics

"Is 'practices' some kind of synonym for 'particles'?" Jim just asked me.

"No. Why?"

"Because that's how it's used in this news story."

The first three paragraphs of the Times Online story (for context):

Families have been told by to stay indoors if ash from the Icelandic volcano begins to settle on the ground.

The World Health Organisation warned that ash, which has already reached the ground in northern Scotland, is potentially dangerous and if inhaled could cause respiratory problems.

The minute practices, which have the odour of rotten eggs, are expected settle further south during the day.

I think I can tell you with some certainty what happened in that last sentence. The writer made the perfectly usual mistake of transposing a pair of letters in the word "particles", and wrote "praticles" by accident. We all do it. Then the writer presumably sent the story through the spell-checker, which perhaps offered a list of corrections to the nonexistent word, the first of which was "practices", and the writer simply clicked some sort of assent instead of looking at what was being done. Add a complete lack of editorial oversight, and voila: a sentence which makes no sense unless you stop and think about it for longer than ought to be necessary.


Blogger D S said...

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Saturday, April 17, 2010 2:28:00 PM  

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