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/.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our inbred universities

One of my informants sends this specimen from the Daily Local News of Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is the second sentence in an article about the demolition of a log cabin at Eastern University:

School officials say the long-abandoned structure was unsafe, the logs were incest-infested and the price of renovation too high for the institution to afford.

10 comments:

  1. "Paging Dr. Freud!"





    Though I must post as Anonymous, I am MichiganCityDDS on Twitter.

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  2. That's what we get for relying too heavily on Microsoft Spell Check!

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  3. Language Log speculates that this error is a Cupertino:

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2002

    Thoughts?

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  4. Oh yeah, this is the Internet.

    Thots?

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  5. I admire your blog, and read it oft, but is this not nitpickery? Yes they said incest instead of insect – ha ha – but what of the missing comma after infested? OK, it's discretionary, but is that not the better part of something? And what of the tenses? O the tenses! If it be nits we pick let them be now, not was, not were. And the price of renovation? Alas, lost in time.

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  6. Back in the 70s a student reporter wrote a story about how the athletic department was going to control the flow of fans at football games by making them enter their seats through designated portals. The reporter wrote "portholes." My advice to my journalism students has always been that when encountering a new word, look it up. Alas, I bear the curse that many teachers: I am ignored.

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  7. A friend of mine through Facebook, who attends USF, wrote a comment about how a drive "threw" diet can't exist.
    After correcting him (through*) he corrected my correction with thru* using an online dictionary that also supports words such as lol and fuck_you.

    So college students believe thru is a word and an underscore is a letter.
    And I was the one who failed college. Lucky me I suppose.

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  8. "Incest-infected" indeed. It just proves how deeply sin and immorality have become embedded into the very foundation of our culture.

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