Year-end goofs and gaffes

From time to time, I share embarrassing mistakes writers shouldn’t have made. I don’t target well-meaning amateurs — only professional writers and editors who should know better. Some recent examples: A September political newsletter from the Indianapolis Business Journal referenced a candidate forum by noting, “It wasn’t a true debate persay; all of the questions … Read more

More goofs and gaffes

A local magazine’s article about a coworking space included a number of amusing typos, but my favorite had to be when the author described the floorplan, noting “… comfortable booths and couches and desks with partisans to offer privacy.” Neither the writer nor the editor caught that one. Obviously, the author meant “partitions,” as in … Read more

Happy holiday’s and other goofs

Many people confuse the plural and possessive forms of words, and I usually cut individuals some slack when they make the wrong choice. But when the world’s largest chain of ice cream shops does it in its advertising, I can’t let it go. This promotional piece for Baskin-Robbins suggests that we “Celebrate…The Holiday’s” with a … Read more


“Will instant replay settle baseball’s furries?”   That was the headline on an online story in the Hendricks County Flyer. I didn’t read the story, so I’m not sure whether it was a discussion of arguments between mascots or just a misspelling of “furies.”   I’m also not sure if someone stumbled onto a miracle … Read more


Time to take another look at public misuses of language. I won’t poke fun at private examples, but media, businesses, and others whose words are crafted for the public are fair game.

We’ll start with the Indianapolis Star, which is a constant source of typographical errors (especially online). Few are as amusing as the one that crept into a June essay about the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. A caption spotlighting a particular hound referred to it as a “pure bread” dog. Not sure whether that was a reference to diet or muscle structure.

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While I’d never try to find the light side in the horrific tornados that scraped across the southern U.S. last week, I can’t let one story I read pass without comment. The story made reference to one of the Alabama communities that was devastated.

One line in the story read: Neighborhoods there were leveled by a massive tornado caught on video by a tower-mounted news camera that barreled through late Wednesday afternoon.

Did you catch what jarred my brain?

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If you use an electronic sign, always check the number of characters it can display at any one time. One local business called “Glass Pros” uses its sign to make promotional messages, some of which end with the company’s name. Unfortunately, it appears that the screen can only display eight letters and/or spaces at a time, so when a message stops scrolling, only the last eight letters and/or spaces remain visible. Take a look at their name, do a little counting, and you’ll see how their sign presents them.

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“… 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.”

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