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Slips Ahoy


Richard Lederer writes in the NY Times Magazine,

As a word-bethumped language guy, I adhere firmly to the blooper snooper's code, taking only what I find and contriving nothing. How could I possibly concoct this vivid headline: ”Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One”? How could I improve on this receptionist's voice-mail advice: ”Please leave a message. The doctors are out of the office or else on the phone and me, too”? Nor could I manufacture the sign in an Acapulco restaurant: ”The manager has personally passed all the water served here.” And could I come close to matching this student's sentence: ”In 1957, Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise”? Or this one: ”Ancient Egyptian women wore a calasiris, a loose-fitting garment which started just below the breasts which hung to the floor”? Forget it.

”Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.” The statement is hysterically unhistorical, and we have no trouble believing that a student actually wrote it. How blunderful that one young scholar's innocent confusion of ”circumnavigate” and ”circumcise” and accidental pun on ”clipper” can beget such nautical naughtiness. This creation is one of the greatest bloopers ever blooped.

Read the full article here.