Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The wrong typo disorder

Picking on spelling errors is not the high road for a linguist. We usually let people like Richard Lederer and Lynne Truss and George Bernard Shaw fling that mud 'cause we get dirty and they like it.

But we need to get a little dirt under our fingernails every once in a while right? Sometimes that's how the important work gets done. And sometimes the pigs are right; it can be fun. And sometimes its a genuine question of the intended meaning of a phrase.

So...The NFL has become a lot more strict regarding concussions. Some players have been put back into games without fully recovering from brain injuries and something has to change.

The new policy apparently wants to raise the standard of mental functioning necessary for permission to suit-up.

The guidelines include prohibiting any player who has lost conciseness from returning to a game or practice. It outlines the symptoms, which include confusion; problems with immediate recall; disorientation and blurred vision and says that a player should have no concussion symptoms and normal neurological test results before returning to play. [emphasis added]

So I guess when an athlete is hit in the head they ask him to state his name, give his age, and defend capitalism in fewer than 25 words.

Read the story here. Looking for this form on GoogleTM I got these results.

Via ADS-L Ben Zimmer reminds me of the Cupertino effect "wherein an automatic spellchecker miscorrects an error. MS Word gives "conciseness" as the first alternative for various plausible misspellings of "consciousness", such as "conscisness", "conscesness", "conshisness", "concisness" and "concusness". (I like the last one as a possibility, since the error could have been influenced by the frequent use of
"concussion" in the article.)"

He also provides links to two Language Log posts on the issue.


  1. And from the AP no less.

    I'm reminded of the Snickers' commercial with the concussed quarterback. "I am Batman!"

  2. Wow...obviously no one proofread that!

  3. The spellchecker is the source of the silliest errors, especially when the writer doesn't know English very well. Tutoring, I have seen mistakes on the order of "necrophilia" for "narcolepsy".

  4. Ha. What a horrible substitution.

  5. Oh, wow, I love this. We could all use a bit more conciseness, now couldn't we? I know I lost mine long ago.


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