Here is more proof, if any is needed, that proofreaders and copy editors don’t always catch every error. I found all the following examples recently in major national publications.

  • “But worse, it always gets my shackles up when someone tells me I can’t do something.”

The word shackles refers to handcuffs or other sorts of fetters. Hackles are the feathers of a bird. Hence, the expression “to get one’s hackles up” means to be insulted or irritated.

  • “How presumptuous that the guy in the ads says, ‘Test drive a Jag-u-ar today’… .”

The word presumptuous means taking liberties by assuming too much. It implies an attitude that’s bold or arrogant. The right word here is pretentious.

  • ” … the efficiency-demanding requirements of rice-patty cultivation… .”

A rice patty is a culinary creation, but an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown is a paddy.

  • “Time drags as we wait for the next meeting with our lover.”

This choice of words creates an image that the writer probably didn’t intend. Better: “… as one waits for the next meeting with one’s lover.”

  • “Her books are banned here, and the blog she has kept since 2005 is currently blocked.”

When a new word, such as blog, enters the language, it can take a while to work out the right ways to use it. The phrase “keeping a blog,” which is probably modeled on “keeping a diary,” isn’t ideal. It implies doing something that’s private rather than public. Blogging is a form of communication, so the best word here is published, not kept.

[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 recently published by AWAI 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.