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The grit in the salad

The tile for the backsplash is up, after a day of noise and disruption that had the cats hiding under the beds. The refrigerator no longer looms like a Pharaonic sarcophagus in the living room. There is running water in the kitchen, even though the faucet turns out to be one that Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend. While there must be further touches and expenses to endure, our long domestic nightmare is over: We have a functioning kitchen.

Once again there is leisure to consider the comparatively minor irritations of newspaper prose, the errors discovered like sand in incompletely washed spinach.

Large evergreens appear sun-kissed with outermost bows outlined in yellow. The sun can smooch the livelong day if it likes, but trees have boughs.

She has gone from charming to annoying just by being herself. If her giggle is a nervous tick, your pointing it out to her and putting her on edge might make it worse. A nervous tick would be one jumpy invertebrate. The unfortunate woman has developed a nervous tic.

Under blue tents in Cockeysville, archeologists scrub shards of pottery with toothbrushes. Nearby, small flags jut from the grass and a hole reveals a stone foundation and steps. A reader wrote to complain, “Archaeologists is misspelled.” Actually, archeologist is one acceptable variant, but Sun style prefers archaeologist.

Most colonists drank the fortified English wines, like madeira, claret and port, that could more readily make the journey across the ocean. Claret is the term by which the British (and some of their former colonists) refer to Bordeaux, a dry red wine that is not fortified. Madeira, port and sherry are wines that have been fortified by adding alcohol.

But, still, the spinach has been washed, as is plain from the following sampling of errors caught recently by The Sun’s copy editors.

An article referred to a clown’s “neon-green” outfit. Fluorescing neon is reddish-orange. Fluorescent green would have been a better choice of words.

An article on runoff into the Chesapeake Bay referred to pollutants “leeching” into the bay. When water filters through a substance, dissolving and removing a chemical, the action is leaching.

An article about the film Gracie, in which a 15-year-old girl seeks a place on a high school soccer team after the death of her brother, referred to "the days before Title IX." The movie was set in 1978, and Title IX, which had the effect of prohibiting discrimination against women in the funding of high school and collegiate athletics, was enacted in 1972.

A logo designed to accompany an article bore the image of a Muslim crescent and star on a blue field with red and white stripes. A copy editor pointed out that it bore a strong resemblance to the Malaysian flag, and the logo was redesigned.

Posted by John McIntyre at 11:44 AM | | Comments (1)


Hmmm. To me, fluorescent green is a pale yellowish color. Neon green is bright - like the green in "neon signs", which, I gather now, aren't really neon?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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