Editing for Liberty #14: A Whale of an Error

Spot the Error

  1. Insurance companies must compete for clients, while the client must bare the fiscal responsibility of his actions.
  2. Whaling is still as prevalent today as anytime in history, due to the close cultural and religious associations the fish has with various indigenous groups of Ainu, Inuit, and the Basque people of the Bay of Biscay.
  3. Obama seems hell bent on expanding the US welfare state at any cost, and of course no welfare state debate is complete without bringing up the Scandinavian countries as the perfect example of massive statism bringing prosperity.
  4. But mass production, if applied to anything beyond the simplest kind of article, depends not only on division of labor and multiple operations, but also on uniformly accurate, interchangeable parts.

Read on for the solutions!

Naked Fiscal Responsibility

Ah, those pesky homonyms. No, the client in sentence #1 does not need to denude anything, but rather bear the weight of his decisions.

Insurance companies must compete for clients, while the client must bear the fiscal responsibility of his actions.

Whales Are Mammals

Bruce the Shark (from Finding Nemo) and his friends claim (add Aussie accent as you read), “Fish are friends, not food.”
Bruce may not eat fish, but he could eat whale (if he dared), because whales aren’t fish. They’re mammals. Sentence #2 ought to reflect that.

To Hell and Back Again

If you think the error in sentence #3 is that “welfare state debate” should be “welfare-state debate,” you’ve found half of the errors. It turns out that “hell-bent” is hyphenated in the dictionary and should, therefore, appear hyphenated whether it’s before or after the noun being modified. So the sentence should read,

Obama seems hell-bent on expanding the US welfare state at any cost, and of course no welfare-state debate is complete without bringing up the Scandinavian countries as the perfect example of massive statism bringing prosperity.

(Admittedly, the Chicago Manual of Style says that such hyphens are “usually unnecessary.” See Chicago 7.81.)

Not Only But

This is one of the rules I am always forgetting. When you have what I’ll call a “not only but” clause, there is NO comma before the “but” unless there is alsoa a comma before the “not only.” Sentence 4 should be,

But mass production, if applied to anything beyond the simplest kind of article, depends not only on division of labor and multiple operations but also on uniformly accurate, interchangeable parts.

Name That Reference

Do you know what painting is behind the flag in this Mises Daily? Look to this Mises Daily for an unveiling.

Just for Fun: UK English

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

Recently I visited London to attend a wedding. The bride had graduated from Oxford, and among the invitees were some of her fellow graduates and a professor. During the long ceremony, we intermittently chatted about London weather, Gordon Brown, Queen Lizzie, and language.

Among other things, we talked about the differences between British and American English. I recalled reading about the inroads American English is making even in the UK, so I decided to carry out an experiment to find to what extent American English had “corrupted” English English.

I told them that sometimes the British write certain numerals (e.g. 1 and 7) differently from how they’re written in the US, and asked them to write a short sentence so I could see if there were other differences in the script.

I quickly thought of a sentence for them to write:

“Her favorite flavors were in the gray catalog, she realized.”

I said it aloud and the five Oxonians and the Oxford don kindly wrote it down on their napkins (serviettes). I collected the napkins and then told them about the experiment — it had nothing to do with handwriting. In reality, that sentence had five words that could be written with American or British spellings (favorite/favourite, flavor/flavour, gray/grey, catalog/catalogue realize/realise).

Of the six people who participated in the experiment, three spelled (spelt) everything the British way. The other three had one or more words spelled in American English.


Is there something you’d like to contribute or see covered in Editing for Liberty? Post a comment! Cartoons, quips, and contributions to “Spot the Error” and “Name That Reference” are especially welcome.

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