By Rick Helley, Guest Blogger and Senior Editor at Bookstand Publishing
I came across this rather amusing item on page 12 of the May 7, 2010, issue of The Week magazine:
An Australian publisher has destroyed 7,000 copies of a cookbook after a recipe called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” The recipe, for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, was meant to call for black pepper, but a typo led a computer spell-checker program to insert the erroneous word.
During my years as a copy editor in the corporate world, some gaffes approaching that one crossed my desk, such as the following:
- A report discussing diesel emissions from ferryboats in San Francisco Bay included the line, “emissions from the San Francisco fairies.”
- A report on boiler emissions noted, “After eating lunch, the boiler exploded.”
- A company abstract about pollution control touted the firm’s “Population Abatement Systems” — to which I responded, via a note to the author, “Project Manager, Josef Mengele?”
In addition, about twenty years ago, a newspaper in my city included a recipe for seafood salad calling for shrimp and, among other ingredients, “Crap.”
And, in 2002, the City of Lauderhill, Florida, decided to honor actor James Earl Jones with a commemorative plaque. Someone, however, failed to proofread the plaque, which ended up with the inscription:
James Earl Ray
for Keeping the Dream Alive
City of Lauderhill
January 19, 2002
The lesson here is that grammar checkers and spell checkers, as convenient as they may be at times, are no replacement for human editors and proofreaders.