Thursday, May 12, 2011

Historical Oops

I love history. Without a timer to keep me on track, I would surf the Internet for hours upon hours, reading about the latest historical finds and delving into accounts of historical events for no other purpose than pure enjoyment.

This morning a headline for an online news story about a historical map being returned to the Old Colorado City Historical Society caught my attention. And it was a pretty cool story.

I was, however, amused by this line describing the buildings of the era:

“They might have had a hundred rude cabins, but that was it,” he said.

A picture immediately sprang to mind of little log cabins hurling insults at passers-by and each other. (Hey – it’s been a long week, and the brain has been running rampant with unusually odd non-sequiturs…) I’m guessing the intended word was “crude,” as in “constructed in a rudimentary or makeshift way” (per www.dictionary.com).

I’m curious to know who was responsible for this little slip-up. Was it the writer, who missed a ‘c’ while rushing to meet a deadline? Was it a misspeak on the part of the interviewee that was transcribed verbatim into the article? Having recently conducted an interview that did not go quite as well as I’d planned, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for things that can go wrong in such situations.

But “rude cabins” still makes me chuckle… :-)

Follow-up:

Normally I don't post comments, but since comments don't show automatically unless you're logged in, and in the interest of accuracy, I thought I'd include this one from reader Lynne:

"Rude cabins" makes me chuckle, too. But the use of "rude" in this context seemed somehow familiar. I checked with merriam-webster.com and found this as the first definition:

 
a : being in a rough or unfinished state : crude
b : natural, raw 
c : primitive, undeveloped 
d : simple, elemental


I suspect that over time, "rude" has come to describe social behavior more than a physical state, as the dictionary.com definition indicates. 

Perhaps "rude" is appropriate in describing the condition of the cabins in the language of that historical era. But if I found it used in any copy that I were to edit these days, I'd definitely change it to "crude."

My reply:  Good catch, Lynne! I didn't dig deep enough into my sources to discover that "rude" can be a synonym for "crude." 

Thanks for your comment!

2 comments:

  1. "Rude cabins" makes me chuckle, too. But the use of "rude" in this context seemed somehow familiar. I checked with merriam-webster.com and found this as the first definition:

    a : being in a rough or unfinished state : crude
    b : natural, raw
    c : primitive, undeveloped
    d : simple, elemental

    I suspect that over time, "rude" has come to describe social behavior more than a physical state, as the dictionary.com definition indicates.

    Perhaps "rude" is appropriate in describing the condition of the cabins in the language of that historical era. But if I found it used in any copy that I were to edit these days, I'd definitely change it to "crude."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good catch, Lynne! I didn't dig deep enough into my sources to discover that "rude" can be a synonym for "crude."

    Thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete