Friday, April 29, 2011

Comedy of Errors

To kick off your weekend, here are just a few of the error-riddled tidbits I’ve saved to my notes file over the past few weeks.

Grammar check, please.

From an online story about Kirstie Alley’s troubles on the dance floor a few weeks ago:

“After last week's tumble, her and Maks were hoping for an error-free dance, but things didn't go as planned.”

Seriously bad grammar there…and no respect for the proper usage of pronouns.

Fact checker to Aisle 9.

Remember my earlier post about the emotional eBayer? This gem about the amount of shipping materials one seller has sold came from the same online story:

“…estimate that they have sold about 2,838 square feet of bubble wrap -- enough to cover the distance between Maine and California.”

Now, either the tectonic plate shifts are getting really extreme, or someone neglected to insert the rest of the numeric value. 2,838 square feet of bubble wrap wouldn't even cover the road out of town, much less entire states.

Beware of baseball bats…

…because apparently they can be quite vicious. Here’s a headline I found yesterday on a local news station website:

“Colorado Springs Teen Attacked By Baseball Bat”

So the baseball bat just leapt up all by itself and attacked this poor kid… Is it just me, or do you suppose there might have been another human involved in the wielding of said bat?

Mission: Unreadable

And finally, another one from the fire file. A local reporter’s description of a massive fire in yet another online story:

“…Firefighters could not enter the large home because it was fully consumed by fire, from the basement to the roof. They’re mission instead; keep the fire from turning into a wildland blaze.”

It’s “their,” not “they’re” (which is a contraction of “they are”). Then there’s that semicolon that should be a full-blown colon…

But wait – there’s more! Check out this comment from David_COS, who apparently was responding to a typo in an earlier version of the story:

"The resulting smoke plum was easily visible..."

It was a smoke PLUME when I saw it... :-)

The plum had been made into a proper plume by the time I saw the story.

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Disasters – In Writing, That Is…

In the wee dark hours of the morning, a moving railroad tanker car sprang a leak and began to unintentionally offload the hydrochloric acid it carried. The train was brought to a halt near a residential subdivision in the small town of Monument, Colorado, and emergency officials began to evacuate some 250 homes in the area.

Information is typically sketchy during the incipient stages of any emergency incident as hazmat crews and other emergency responders try to determine what’s leaking, how much is leaking, and what they’re going to do about it. But the error I spotted had nothing to do with this kind of information. It involved one evacuee’s account of her personal ordeal that appeared in an online story by a local newspaper:  

“…Linda does not have a LAN line, but got a knock at the door…”

I’m guessing this reporter meant “landline,” referring to a telephone that is hard-wired into a building (as opposed to the ubiquitous cell phones many people now have). In the not-so-old days, signals were transmitted via lines strung across the countryside, or across the land – thus they were called “landlines.”

The term “LAN” refers to a “local area network” of computers, not phones (at least as far as I know). If you know anything different, let me know and I’ll correct myself.

For now, the acid spill has been contained. The writing errors have not.

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Be Clear…

I’m not sure which is more disturbing – the following post from a college instructor, or the fact that I glossed over the error a half dozen times before I noticed it:

Please allow me to make this prefectly clear....

College is supposed to make you smarter, right? All it seems to be doing is turning my brain to mush. J

Friday, April 8, 2011

Misplaced Intent

One of my favorite goofs from the past few weeks is this headline for – you guessed it – an online story from a local news station:

Two Misplaced After Duplex Burns Down

The story goes on to say:

No word yet on how it started, but the the home is a complete loss, leaving two misplaced.

Never mind the double “the” in that sentence. I’m curious about who misplaced these residents and if they were ever found.

In the reporter’s defense, the story was posted just after 3:00 a.m. that morning. It’s tough to think straight at that hour. Still, “misplaced” and “displaced” have very different meanings.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to misplace something means “to put in a wrong or inappropriate place” or to “mislay.”

Displace, which was likely the word this tired reporter was going for, means “to remove from the usual or proper place; specifically: to expel or force to flee from home or homeland <displaced persons>.”

Isn’t it interesting how changing just one letter in a word changes the whole meaning? Ah, but that’s a topic for another post…