Sunday, April 3, 2011

Watch Your Language

Gossips had sworn off pointing out bloopers in the Register-Star, but two recent linguistic faux pas have tempered that reluctance. 

On Friday, Jamie Larson, reporting on the docks project being carried out at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, wrote that "a kayak launch with storage racks will be installed at the furthest end of the eastern slip (known as the southern birth)." Using furthest instead of farthest is minor; but birth for berth? One reader told me that "southern birth" brought to mind for him Butterfly McQueen's famous line from Gone with the Wind: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!"

Then this morning, Gail Heinsohn reports that "The calvary is being summoned in the skirmish to save the planned Hannaford Bros. supermarket." Calvary is the name of the hill outside ancient Jerusalem where Christ was crucified. With a lowercase c, it can mean "a great ordeal," but it's more likely the word Heinsohn meant to use was cavalry, the name for troops trained to fight on horseback.   


  1. I used to attend a school that trained kids to be priests and was always asked how the cemetery was.

  2. It's by no means only the Register-Star that makes these errors.

    A headline yesterday in the once great New York Times said that a notable sports team is "floundering."


    -- Jock Spivy

  3. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't quite see how the "idiotic" NY Times was incorrect in their usage.
    From Merriam Webster's: floundering present participle of floun·der (Verb)
    1. Struggle or stagger helplessly or clumsily in water or mud: "he was floundering about in the shallow offshore waters".
    2. Struggle mentally; show or feel great confusion: "she floundered, not knowing quite what to say".