interstate highway to Cupertino?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 21 17:57:28 UTC 2009

In today's Op-Ed, "Methland vs. Mythland", Timothy Egan opines (in
the home-delivery version)

People in small towns are more likely to be poor, more likely to lack
health insurance, more likely, if they are young, to move out,
according to government statistics. In the invisible margins off the
*intestate*, the story about decline takes place in slow motion,
rarely attracting a headline.

The word highlighted here was corrected in the online version to
"interstate".  I wonder if this is a mere typo, though, given the
existence of "intestate", indeed for 500 years (according to the
respective OED entries) before anyone thought of writing
"interstate";  dying intestate (without a will) is a much older
practice than dying on the interstate, although of course nothing
prevents one from doing both.  In any case, I was wondering if a
Cupertinesque spell-check might have turned "interstate" into
"intestate", or just mental interference from the other lexical item;
while this could have been a typo, somehow the respelling seems more
likely in the case under discussion than with, say, "inteference" or


The American Dialect Society -

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