The War on Error

Archive for the ‘language’ Category

It’s an old one, and it’s not even mine, but I still LOVE this. Even thinking about it makes me chuckle.


Interesting one. Because of the (presumably) misplaced apostrophe, this sign only refers to one parking bay. So if you went ahead and parked in one of the other bays, you technically wouldn’t be doing anything wrong. Right?

In yet another example of how the omission of a simple squiggle can change the meaning of a word, the pen scrawl on this poster reads: “Were a bunch of wankers with guns”. Sadly, even with the apostrophe reinstated it’s still a pretty rubbish piece of graffiti.

Point of interest, the word graffiti and its singular, graffito, are from the Italian word graffiato (‘scratched’).

A phonological sin to be filed alongside ‘Could of’ instead of ‘Could’ve’.

This grocery store on Streatham Hill has not one but two massive blunders on its shop front for all to admire. ‘Vegtables’ rather than vegetables is at least heading in the right direction, but ‘Carabian’ instead of Caribbean (click on the pic to get a better view) is off the map entirely.

Not an error but a great word that everyone should know: a zeugma (from the Greek: ζεῦγμα, zeûgma, meaning ‘yoke’) is a figure of speech describing the joining of two or more parts of a sentence with a single common verb or noun. A syllepsis is a particular type of zeugma in which the clauses are not parallel either in meaning or grammar. The governing word may change meaning with respect to the other words it modifies (eg I fell down the stairs and also in love).

Despite correcting grammar and spelling for a living, I get in an awful jumble if asked to justify certain grammar rules out loud. When confronted by this piece of grammar vandalism at the doctor’s surgery yesterday I was mightily relieved I didn’t have to explain the difference between owing and due to anyone.

Looking it up this morning didn’t make things any clearer – apparently ‘owing to’ is prepositional (and means because of/on account of), while ‘due to’ is adjectival (and means attributable/caused by). Neither definition clarifies anything as far as I’m concerned. However, Collins, the big daddy of all dictionaries declares that while the use of ‘due to’ as a preposition was formerly considered incorrect, it is now deemed acceptable. Phew. Panic over.


The Copy Editor

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