factual > factional

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Tue Sep 11 04:05:12 UTC 2007

Seen in _Outreach Connection_ (a newspaper sold by homeless people
but written by quasi-professionals), no. 719, Sept. 7-14 2007, p.4:

"This is where _Absent_ comes in, a fictional tale told with
factional bites about Iraq between the Persian Gulf and Operation
Iraqi Freedom wars that crippled the nation."

This is from a book review. There's nothing in the review referring
to factions; the book is about the life of a young woman living in
Baghdad under totalitarian rule. In the last paragraph it reinforces
the suspicion that "factional" was used for "factual": "The only
off-setting thing here is the facts and figures thrown around quite a
lot about life under sanctions." So I think the most reasonable
interpretation is that the author (Julian Bynoe) used "factional"
because it echoes "fictional" but is unaware that it means something

I wouldn't be surprised if this crops up elsewhere. And, in fact, in
a quick Google search, I find it in
in a reader comment: "What about eg - the biographer of the dead
artist? Can they sue the playwright who uses the biography to
research their fictional/factional play - or film ?" And at
http://playingbingo.co.uk/bingo-stories/index.shtml : "It could be
you have a great story of how people at a Bingo hall clubbed together
to raise funds for a charity, or helped a player in need. Could be
funny, sad, poetical, fictional, factional or whatever. Maybe you've
written a short story about playing Bingo?"

I'm sure more examples can be found. Somehow, in spite of factional
fighting being mentioned in news reports, not everyone apparently
knows the dictionary meaning of the word. I wonder if this trend will

James Harbeck.

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

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