Part 1 of Typos discussed different types of typo and ‘fat-finger syndrome’ and gave an example of an embarrassing and expensive mistake from the seventeenth century – a misprint in the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Next we will look at instances where there are no spelling errors as such, but the choice of words can lead to some amusing results in newspaper headlines.
Astronaut takes blame for gas in aircraft
‒ Not sure where the gas leak is from!
Couple slain; police suspect homicide
‒ Sounds rather obvious
Deer kill 170,000
‒ Was it a deer cull or massacre by man-eating deer?
Drunks get nine months in violin case
‒ A solution to overcrowded prisons perhaps?
If strike isn’t settled quickly, it may last a while
‒ Again, sounds obvious
Juvenile court to try shooting defendant
‒ Again, a solution to prison overcrowding
Killer sentenced to die for second time in 10 years
‒ As the film title says, You Only Live Twice
Local high school dropouts cut in half
‒ Sounds a bit drastic!
Miners refuse to work after death
‒ I would probably feel the same
New study of obesity looks for larger test group
‒ It sounds like they are looking for super-obese people now
Red tape holds up new bridges
‒ Must be strong tape!
Squad helps dog bite victim
‒ Sounds like the dog is not up to the job and needs help
Two sisters reunited after eighteen years at checkout counter
‒ That is some checkout queue; haven’t they got any self-service tills?
Typhoon rips through cemetery; hundreds dead
‒ Weren’t they dead already?
It is not only what you say but the way that you say it! When reviewing text that you have written remember to pay close attention to the headings as well. Clearly this was not done in the above examples.
But it is not only headlines that carry unfortunate wordings – the same can apply to adverts:
Illiterate? Write today for free help
‒ There are times when a phone call is better
Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you’ll never go anywhere again
‒ Clearly a firm that is going places
Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink
‒ Good to hear the country has clean-living livestock
For sale: 83 Ford Grandad
‒ Must be the restyled Ford Granada for the more mature driver
Children shot for Christmas in the home
‒ For that large gathering when a turkey is not sufficient
Dog kennel, suit medium-sized dog. Good condition. Very turdy. Buyer collects
‒ Ugh. No further comment required
Lady, 65, reasonable looks, medium build, likes short walks, outings, the occasional drunk
‒ You can’t be too fussy when you get to 65
Stephen York is a freelance proofreader with over 25 years' experience in book and journal publishing offering proofreading services to publishers, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, academics, students, and authors. He regularly proofreads in digital format a wide variety of media in an extensive range of specialist subject areas, including business, finance, economics, education, marketing, and real estate.