NEKKID FROM THE WASTE DOWN AND OTHER GOOFS

“… He then undressed her from the waste down and cut open her shirt and bra …” That salacious gem came from a story on the Indianapolis Star’s website. I had images of Lady Gaga wearing an outfit made of trash, or perhaps someone who was stuck headfirst into a landfill. Once again, a story was spellchecked, but not edited. Or maybe the writer really wasn’t referring to a woman’s waist.

A similar, but less exciting example appeared in the February issue of Trains Magazine. In an item about a railroad executive, a writer mentioned that the man “was previously general council.” No, that would be “counsel,” a noun most often referring to attorneys when preceded by “general.” A “council” is a group of people gathered for a particular task, such as a “town council” or a “merchants’ council.”

You may think I’m being especially picky, but newspaper and magazine writers are paid professionals who should know better. But I see “counsel” and “council” misused frequently — nearly as often as professionals use “affect” when they mean “effect” (and vice versa).

Then there are the word choices that simply bemuse me. In a retailer’s restroom, I noticed what you or I would probably call an air freshener. It referred to itself as an “automatic odor dispenser.” I’m sure the manufacturer thought that high-tech and reason to justify a higher price, but I was under the impression that people installed those to mask odors, rather than dispense them. Don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to keep my distance from anything — or anyone — that automatically dispensed odors.

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