September 7th, 2005



A getting-paid-for-it writer for a serious on-line periodical just published "populous" (the adjective) when he meant "populace" (the noun).

Another getting-paid-for-it writer for another serious on-line something-or-other referred to "getting off Scot-free" (sic). Note: "scot-free" is not capitalized, because it has nothing to do with the Scots or Scotland. scot is an old Germanic word for tribute paid to an overlord; to "get off scot-free" is to pay no price for whatever one has just gone through. Scot (capitalized) is from Latin Scotia, Scoti -- as in "Duns Scotus," the medieval theologian.

I don't mean to throw stones; I make mistakes, too. But I have two questions:
Doesn't anybody proofread anything any more?

Just how bad is our educational system when literate professionals wind up writing howlers like this -- and nobody but a few cranks like me even notices?

EDIT: I just corrected two typos in this piece that will be read by only a tiny band of people with too much time on their hands. Why? because it matters to me.