Sunday, February 3, 2008

Queen Elizabeth lays up to 2,000 eggs a day

Language Log has written on the Cupertino effect-- when a writer carelessly uses the suggestions of a word processor's spell-checking program, often with funny results. As Ben Zimmer describes it: "Some older spellcheckers had wordlists containing co-operation but not cooperation without the hyphen. So when a user typed in unhyphenated cooperation, the spellchecker would flag it as an error. The first suggestion thrown up was not co-operation, however, but Cupertino, the name of a city in northern California."

I had a great example of my own a couple years ago, when a student wrote a paper in my class about the American colonists fighting against Tierney. It's even funnier when it happens in the press.

But here's a neat variation:

How did the Boston Metro arrive at the following: "King's birthday is Jan. 15, but the federal holiday bearing his name is observed on the third yesterday in January."

And what exactly did Reuters mean when it said that "Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day."

Language Log has the answer.