Thursday, April 22, 2010

Venti. vidi, vici

The Telephone Error of the Month Award goes that bastion of repeating the error in the correction, the Times. Of New York:

An article on Saturday about a proposal by the Bloomberg administration to cut the number of street vendors in city parks by 75 percent quoted incorrectly from comments by Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner. In elaborating on the proposal, Mr. Benepe said: “The artists can vend. The people who sell other goods can vend” — not “vent.”

Considering the rest of his comment as quoted -- "And everybody will adjust. This is not the end of art. It is just a very slight and strategic moving of where people can sell art" -- you do sort of wonder what was going on in his dialect* or the reporter's ear for "vent" to have made sense.

In a perfect world, you'd like to think, an editor would have arisen at some point in the process to say: Wait. He's saying they can sell stuff. Are you sure he said "vent"? But you can also see how it makes perfect sense to let it go: Yah, just another official saying let 'em eat cake.

It's interesting that the version of this story archived at Lexis-Nexis has the corrected version of the quote -- interesting and annoying, because as I first read the correction, the "not 'vent'" applied to the second "vend," so I thought the original printed version had had the artists vending and everybody else venting. That would have been strange, and anyway, it's always nice to see what the real thing looked like before complaining about it in public.

Fortunately, a New York blog** seems to have captured the original, and both of the "vend" cases were rendered as "vent." But my confidence in Lexis as a reliable tool for content analysis is not what it was a few hours ago.

* We have lots of final-stop devoicing around here, but at a quick glance, he doesn't seem like the sort of guy I'd attribute that feature to.
** Don't miss the shot of the turkey on Broadway. Nice, Cal!



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