John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Shine on

You’d think that these jaded old copy editor eyes would have seen it all, given the monotonous repetition over the years of the set of errors to which journalists are prone. But the inventiveness of writers should not be underestimated.

This morning’s reading of The Baltimore Sun brought a bright new malapropism. In an article on a lightning strike and fire in the steeple of Bethel A.M.E. Church, this sentence was nestled:

City workers picked up stray shingles Thursday morning and that afternoon the sun shown through the damaged steeple to a newly cleaned sidewalk.

Shown for shone may not be original, but it is my first encounter with the error.

(The omission of the comma after morning to indicate a compound sentence, however, comes out of the set of common errors.)

4 comments:

  1. I'd call that, rather than hoisting the writer on the charge of malapropism, a simple misspelling. The writer knew what he or she wanted to say, was not ignorantly substituting another word for that concept, and committed the error of either trusting the ear or letting the spell checker say it was fine. Without you around, such typos will become legion.

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  2. I have seen several incidents of "people emitting 'growns'." Spell checkers will NOT flag valid words, even if not what was meant. I only caught what could have been a very embarrasing error, caused by hitting the key adjacent to the one I wanted, with a third proofreading, since the spell checker thought I typed a valid but, in context, most inappropriate word.

    Retired in Elkridge

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  3. Retired in Elkridge:
    Dude--what in the h-e-double hockey sticks are you talking about?
    --Anonymous #1

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  4. Retired in Elkridge:
    What in the H-E-double hockey sticks are you talking about?

    ReplyDelete