Mighty Red Pen

October 22, 2014

Mon dieu! Le typo!

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:31 pm
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Here’s a tasty little typo that turns chicken with wine (coq au vin) into chicken with vine. Whatever that would be. I’m a little afraid to ask.

And, not for nothing, it’s written correctly directly above where it’s written incorrectly. Kinda makes you want a glass of vin, no? Le sigh.

coq au vin










Courtesy of Scott, who spotted it at a market in western New York.

March 25, 2014

Waffling on the spelling

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:47 pm
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Here’s a sweet little tidbit that came my way just in time for International Waffle Day today. It was spotted at a restaurant in Chicago.

Typo spotted on a restaurant menu

This is not an uncommon typo—I’m sure I’ve seen it a time or two (or three), and you probably have as well, so let’s iron out this confusion once and for all: it’s Belgian waffles, not Belgium waffles (Belgian being the adjective, Belgium the country).

And in case you’re wondering: yes, serving MRP up a tasty typo like this one is second only to serving up an actual plate of waffles (Belgian or otherwise).  Not to pour it on too thick, but the actual first thing I did when I saw this typo was wish I were having waffles for lunch … or dinner … or lunch and dinner …

Thanks to @ScottMalouf.

Bonus MRP moment: Today would have been Flannery O’Connor’s birthday. Her work has held a special place in my heart since I did a project in high school that involved reading everything by her that I could get my hands on and then writing a 20-page paper (a project that was admittedly easier for me than it was for friends who chose more prolific authors such as Hemingway or Twain). One of the best surprises about reading all of her works was how much I loved her collected letters, The Habit of Being. In honor of her birthday, take a listen to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Sufjan Stevens, which is a retelling of O’Connor’s story of the same name but from an unexpected perspective.


March 26, 2012

Into the breeches: breach vs. breech

Filed under: Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:35 pm
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This breach of proper spelling was spotted here.

Okay, here’s the deal. When you want to say an agreement has been violated or broken, it’s a breach of contract (M-W “1. infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie, or standard”). When you sashay about in your new pants, you’re showing off the latest fashion in breeches (M-W “1a. short pants covering the hips and thighs and fitting snugly at the lower edges at or just below the knee. 1b. Pants.”).

Breech also means ” the hind end of the body, (M-W) and if you look it up, you’ll find a trove of synonyms for buttocks that would have the average six-year-old boy screaming with laughter. You know, if that’s your thing.

Well-documented we find Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage a particularly useful website, and on this matter, not only is it useful, it’s amusingly instructive. Citing the famous line from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Brians lets us know: ““Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” means “let’s charge into the gap in the enemy’s defenses,” not “let’s reach into our pants again.”” Good way to remember, don’t you agree?

And, well, if you have a a breach in your breeches, then you have a whole other set of problems that’s beyond the scope of this blog. So good luck with that.

January 4, 2012

A nauseating typo

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:57 pm
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Here’s a typo that could turn your stomach (spotted here):

Let’s for a moment set aside the whole I’m nauseous vs. I’m nauseated question (Although, if you’re interested, Grammar Girl has a good explanation, which in brief says it’s generally the rule that if you feel sick, you say I’m nauseated, although people more commonly say I’m nauseous, even though that’s considered wrong, and furthermore, Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn’t think that’s a real rule. It’s enough to make you a little queasy as you try to unravel it.) (So I guess that wasn’t really setting it aside at all.). I think there’s one thing we can agree on without making ourselves sick over it: It’s spelled nauseous and not nautious.


October 12, 2011

Tip jar

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 8:28 pm
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Yes, the story of what happened to bartender Victoria Liss of Seattle is shameful. Here it is, in a nutshell: a nasty customer walked away without leaving a tip. But what he did leave for her was even worse: a shameful typo.

Prince Charming wrote, P.S. You could stand to loose a few pounds. Well, here’s a tip for you, buddy: you could stand to lose a few typos.

October 11, 2011

An apple a day keeps the typo away

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:02 pm
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Ah, fall. It’s a beautiful time of year around these here parts. And this past weekend, we happened to have some particularly beautiful fall days. Perfect for apple picking. And you know what apple picking season brings: apple cider (refreshingly cold or piping hot, with or without cinnamon), apple cider donuts, apple pie, apple crisp, and of course, caramel apples.

Or, if you’re Honeypot Hill Orchards in Stow, Mass., carmel apples:

The good news? Every sign in the place directed hungry pickers to carmel apples. So what they lacked in spelling, they made up for in consistency.


September 18, 2011

Lose vs. loose

Filed under: Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 3:32 pm
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This local establishment fell victim to the very common lose vs. loose confusion.

Okay, here’s the deal: If you fail to keep something, you lose it. If something is less tight, then it is now loose. So in this case, we did not lose power would have been correct.

Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage offers this easy way to remember the difference: “This confusion can easily be avoided if you pronounce the word intended aloud. If it has a voiced Z sound, then it’s “lose.” If it has a hissy S sound, then it’s “loose.”” And it’s also worth reading the extensive explanation from Language Log (which, as an aside, also includes an interesting commentary of the tendency to lump all language issues under the umbrella of “grammar”).

Copyblogger includes lose vs. loose in a list of seven common writing mistakes, and offers this helpful way of remembering:

“If your pants are too loose, you might lose your pants.”

And no one wants that, do they? So remember: keep your pants on.


By the way, MRP was recently nominated for the Grammar.net contest for Best Grammar Blog of 2011. Many great blogs that cover grammar and language were also nominated, so we’re in excellent company. Voting will begin September 26, so please vote!

The Best Grammar Blog of 2011 nomiee

August 22, 2011

Old Navy’s performance typo

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 7:54 pm
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Well, nothing gets the word nerds on the InterWebs more a-twitter than a typo of absolutely epic proportions. And, yes, Old Navy has delivered just such a typo. Behold, the “Let’s Go!!” t-shirt line. Or, as they actually say, the “Lets Go!!” t-shirt line:

I love these typo tees because they come in umpteen different colors and represent many, many different teams. The eight that are pictured here represent just a fraction of the available options.  The only problem I can see is that I’m not sure how I’m going to decide which Old Navy typo tee is the right one for me. So many typo tees, so little time!

H/t grammargirl and these guys.


Bonus MRP moment: It was a banner day for bad typos. H/t to grammarsnark for spotting this product from Downy called ‘Unstopables.’ Memo to Downy: Those proofreaders Old Navy recommends? Yeah, no, don’t.

August 17, 2011

Playing the field

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:49 pm
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This typo trifecta was spotted in the Boston Globe this past Sunday. The real head turner for me was the fact that they managed to spell this young man’s name three different ways: Eric, Erik, and Erick. Covering all the bases?

At least they were able to settle on his last name as Olson—but who really knows? Could be Olsen. I have no idea what the actual spelling of his name is, for all I know it could actually be Erique. But I can tell you that the school he attends is actually Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, with an “e” at the end of Browne. Might be time for this proofreader to head back to school.

August 8, 2011

A tradition of classic typos

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:31 pm
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An alert reader sent me this picture from a “Ralph Lauren” breshed chino shit. Apparently, all it took was Jesse Eisenberg’s “crinkled shit” for this fashion to take the world by storm.

A word to the designer-knock-off-making wise: among the handsome detailing you could pay attention to when crafting your imitation creations would be, um, the spelling. Because a typo such as this seems pretty unfashionable.


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