I’ve long been fascinated by unintentionally amusing mistakes in the media. For years, I’ve sought and saved such howlers, appending snappy comebacks. I’m now assembling my collection into a book. Below are a few recently culled specimens.

 

  • Women’s health website: “Diary free lifestyle becomes mandatory for anyone who may be allergic to milk or intolerant to lactose.”

(And with a diary-free diet, you never have to eat your words.)

 

  • Correction: “The Smyrna, Ga., dateline on a page one article Friday about home buyers seeking smaller, simpler homes was incorrectly given in some editions as Smarmy, Ga.”

(Smarmy residents are furious about this mix-up.)

 

  • Tutoring company website: “Basic social skills and respect for others are essential. socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world was founded… to equip our children, tweens and teens with these tools to succeed in life….”

(Perhaps spelling should be among them.)

 

  • Historical novel: “The English captain had escaped in part by signaling a lady he’d bedded through the prison windows….”

(With that sort of flexibility, he should have made his escape earlier.)

 

  • Letter to editor: “Language will evolve in whatever way people believe best enables them to communicate…. Language will remain uniform and unchanging only as long as it serves the purpose of understanding one other.”

(Too late!)

 

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant for more than 30 years. He may be best known for his headline “Speak Spanish [French, German, etc.] Like a Diplomat!” This familiar series of ads sold spectacular numbers of recorded foreign language lessons for Audio-Forum, generating revenues that total in the tens of millions of dollars. In the process, the ad achieved the status of an industry classic. Don’s work is mentioned in three major college advertising textbooks, and examples of his promotions are cited in the books Million Dollar Mailings (1992) and World's Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters (1996). In a column in Advertising Age, his name was included in a short list of direct-marketing “superstars.” He has a parallel career as a writer on language and wordplay. His celebration of spoonerisms, Cruel and Unusual Puns (Dell, 1991), received rave reviews and quickly went into a second printing. His second book was Acronymania (Dell, 1993). Recently, Don retired from full-time copywriting in order to focus on other interests, including his passion for “recreational linguistics.” He is at work on a new book in that genre. He is a regular contributor to the magazine Word Ways and writes “The Language Perfectionist,” a weekly column on grammar and usage, for Early to Rise. Don is author of The Versatile Freelancer,an e-book from American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI) that shows copywriters – and almost anyone – how to diversify their careers into consulting, training, critiquing, and speaking.

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