The Language Perfectionist: More Bloopers and Snappy Comebacks

Here’s another batch of amusing mistakes gleaned from the media, each followed by a mischievous retort. If you’ve ever committed an embarrassing linguistic error, it may be comforting to know that even professional journalists and their editors can be guilty of blunders and howlers.

Warning: In some instances, you may have to read the passage carefully to spot the error or problem being ridiculed.

  • Headline: “Closing Ceremonies Bring Olympics to an End”

(And in belated news, the games began with the opening ceremonies.)

  • Letter to Editor: “But none of these other artists created as rich a mixture of love story and hilarious comedy that we find in Annie Hal….”

(Wasn’t that Woody’s sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey?)

  • Article in trade magazine: “If we all packed up the asterisk, the bracket, the carrot and put [them] in a time machine, we’d be better off.”

(Eh, what’s up, Doc?)

  • Art section of major newspaper: “Death is always a good thing for auction houses, and this season Christie’s was able to secure two major estates….”

(I knew we shouldn’t have fired the Tact Editor.)

  • Local news report: “A whopping 97 percent of New York’s elementary and middle schools [earned] an A or B on the city’s annual report card. Yet [School] Chancellor Joel I. Klein was tempered in his praise…. ‘If you’re asking whether I would rather see less A’s, the answer is no.'”

(Joel, stay after school and write 100 times on the blackboard: “fewer A’s.”)

[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.]