Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Spelling update

More examples of "dumbth." Reviewed a play last night. The Imaginary Invalid. The program front said "Invaild." The program inside said "Invailad."

Checking for Hurricane Katrina news updates, I found a major network's website announcing that "Marshal Law" had been declared in New Orleans. I'm sorry, Mr. Dillon is not on duty down there. It's "martial."

And I hope you weren't taking barbiturates when you worked on last Thursday's spelling assignment. That was the only word spelled correctly on that list.

Please add any and all examples of "dumbth" as you find them.


Blogger Stef said...

I have to throw this back out~
There is a mall near my house with lettering on the front doors stating: "This is a Non-Smoking Enviroment"
I'm not sure what's worse- that the mall hasn't had this corrected... or that when I point it out to people, they are shocked, saying, "I can't believe you noticed that."

1:17 PM  
Blogger ZombieKiller said...

I admit that I would have missed that. Not because I don't know how to spell, but my brain put the "n" there for me when I read it.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous kgirl said...

I saw "marshall" law today, too.

And speaking of Gunsmoke, how about "chester drawers" instead of "chest of drawers?" I doubt Chester's last name was "Drawers."

2:07 PM  
Blogger hIpPy said...

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2:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I also saw the "marshall law" error. What's really funny is that the page the headline linked to spelled "martial" correctly.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Terminaldegree said...

I once read a blurb about the features of a small town: "We have lots of pubic parks."


2:53 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I just checked nola.com - the erroneous headline has been corrected. I wonder how many people pointed out that mistake?

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following article uses "four-laning" as a verb: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1125397186977&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968705899037&t=TS_Home&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes

"Four-laning", of course, is a synonym for "expanding the highway until it is four-lanes wide."

3:32 PM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

Pubic parks, eh? Wonder how often they get trimmed.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Patty the Philosophy prof.. said...

A while back a student amused me with, "this philosopher was looking for an escape goat"..

I started to imagine what an "escape goat" would do, giggled so hard a friend asked me what was going on. The result was an imaginary "Buster the escape goat", who has magical powers, and likes to eat student papers.

Some days the long hours and low pay are worth it.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ianqui said...

Along the lines of the invalid example...From Treehugger:

"Next month there will be nearly 23,000 m2 of snow in Dubia. Yes, you read correctly. Dubai."

(So much better even since he said "yes, you read correctly".)

8:45 PM  
Blogger SuperHolmie said...

At work we were asked to "initialize" a document after reading it.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

I've not been a frequent visitor of Phantom Professor and I'm not sure if it is only for your students. I don't even know what dumbth is for sure but I'm guessing that it has something to do with misprints, typo's, and misspoken words. Hell, there is good probability that there is some dumbth in this comment. I am, after all, from deeeeeeep East Texas. But don't worry, I gots me an education and moved to the big city, Conroe, TX.

My comment is this... I'm sure by now some one has pointed out www.engrish.com. I think that is about the finest repository of dumbth you will ever see.

And yes, you did just witness an East Texan use the word, "repository" correctly in a sentence that did not contain WMD.

Keep up the great blog.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello... With my sister going to SMU and me at an Out of state college.. I always log on here to see whats going on and the people that you make fun of. I have you bookmarked at the top my internet browser and it still goes back to the old layout and I click on current posts. I check the site daily... I do not do the writing assignments or anything, but I think it sucks to log on here thinking i am going to get some juicy gossip, and its basically all assignments now. I think that there should be 2 seperate sites. Like a bashing one and an assignment one. I do not know call me crazy... Just thought I would give you my 2 cents.

3:40 AM  
Blogger beche-la-mer said...

I blogged this a while ago: a local coffee cart was offering a breakfast special of "raison toast".

Post-existentialist bread with a purpose?

5:56 AM  
Blogger distracted diva said...

On the message boards where I waste too much time, it's ridiculously common to see "per say" instead of per se.

And then there's the inability to add an "s" to the end of words ending in "st" when one wants to make those words plural. Thus, more than one ghost is still spelled "ghost" instead of "ghosts." My nurse-midwives, part of the Women's Specialists of Houston, has some stationery that is correct ("Women's Specialists") and some that is not ("Women's Specialist").

Of course, my pet peeve is the misused apostrophe. If a word ends in an "s," why not throw an apostrophe in there? It makes it look all fancy-like, don't you know?

9:27 AM  
Blogger distracted diva said...

Ugh. My midwives have stationery. Now I am ashamed.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Stef said...

I receive many emails with "dumbth" in them.
i.e- definately and seperate
(my two favorites)

9:56 AM  
Blogger hannah said...

The catalogue that arrived this morning promised us "Free Depatch" on all good over a certain value. What I want to know is if it's worth more than free 'despatch'.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Wala! I read somewhere that the word is actually changing from voila to wala...lol.

We had a discussion of wheelbarrel vs. wheelbarrow on my parenting forum a while back.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"martial" reminds me:
seen on a poster: "new karate master teaches you the latest in marital arts"
the class was sold out to bored housewives!

1:13 PM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

To the complainer about lack of gossip here:
Oh, the gossip will continue to come -- don't worry. It's just that I'm keeping some of the best tales for the book. Can't reveal everything, you know! But there is more good campus confidential stuff to be posted. Yes, I'm holding back a little and I'm concentrating on the online "class," but I haven't stopped adding new stories. About one a week. So stay tuned.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Auntie A said...

Here's a good one. In Texas, the state police are known as the Department of Public Safety (the DPS). One year, the 'l' was left out of 'public'. ;-) Oh, the calls they got!

2:05 AM  
Blogger Heidi E. Ajrami said...

One dumbth I received in a student paper was a character who was "waiting for her night and shining armor." This creates such a unique image...

9:36 AM  
Blogger Miranda said...

From my daughter's teacher: Birthday cakes are no longer aloud to be brought into the classroom.

My daugher also takes peculiar (or maybe not since she's my daughter) glee in correcting all of this teacher's "corrections."

Did I mention my daughter is seven?

1:51 PM  
Blogger Cranky Puppy said...

Near my farm, a sign points with an arrow the way to the city reservoir. The road one takes to get there? Resevoir Rd.

3:12 PM  
Blogger beche-la-mer said...

I'm reading a book that was published by a major international imprint, which is obviously cutting corners in the proofreading department. So far I have come across two instances of "women" used to talk about one female, "breath" instead of "breathe" and my favourite: "the whole trip was a right-off".

2:28 AM  
Blogger Cranky Puppy said...


I've recently noticed a lot of examples similar to what you're citing, as well as in advertising materials, the daily newspaper, etc. Some of them seem to indicate an over-reliance on spell-checkers; others are just bad spelling. So I can't tell whether people are just getting too lazy to proofread, or if spelling is no longer taught.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our university(!) cafeteria has a blackboard with the daily specials outside. At least once a week the special is "snitznels", and last week they even had "snitznels in a tomatoe sauce".

My absolute favourite example of "dumbth", however, has got to be one I saw in a New Zealand newspaper a few months back. Some government official was being quoted on the reasons behind a recent decision. The newspaper quoted her as saying: "It was an ideal logical thing". Got to love those sub-editors.

8:53 AM  
Blogger beche-la-mer said...

In the same book as my previous examples (honestly, don't Penguin employ proofreaders these days? I'm available) there was a mention of a police rescue worker who was trained in "ropes and rappelling", which was fine, but four lines later his training was in "ropes and repelling".

Well, I was repelled.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous handworn said...

I once encountered "the lessor of two evils." I sat there smiling, imagining a doubtful-looking man being offered the rental of sloth and gluttony by the Devil.

8:25 PM  
Blogger butterwise said...

And speaking of Gunsmoke, how about "chester drawers" instead of "chest of drawers?" I doubt Chester's last name was "Drawers."

Actually it it was...

1:44 PM  
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