Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat May 20 15:15:07 UTC 2006

on the one hand, we have a photo caption in the NYT of 5/16/06 (p. A6):

   Residents of Chitral town, above, say four Americans rented a
house in order to hunt Qaeda fighters, cited in the area.

this is the very common confusion of "sight", "cite", and "site",
which are homophones and somewhat related in meaning.  my SHC
colleague johannes fabian was distressed to see it in the NYT, though
i pointed out that the Times was not particularly great on the
spelling and typo fronts, and hadn't been for decades.  now there are
spellcheckers, but this error is one (like "died in the wool") that
no spellchecker can catch.

meanwhile, the otherwise very nice memo pad that comes with my Palm
Pilot has a spellchecker built into it that cannot be permanently
turned off; every time i leave the memo pad, it defaults to
spellchecking.  it doesn't actually correct things, just produces
that annoying wavy red underlining -- under nearly all proper names,
many technical terms in linguistics ("postverbally", but not
"preverbally", "mishearings" but not "eggcorns" -- bizarro), various
pieces of computer terminology ("webhit"), and slang and taboo
vocabulary (most recently, "motherfucker", "cocksucker", "scumbag",
and "spaz" -- yes, i had good reason to be taking notes on these
words).  grumble grumble sputter.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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