Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michiko Kakutani, Please Report To The Principle's Office.

In Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michiko Kakutani's review today of "Obama's Wars," the latest Bob Woodward Washington bestseller, she inserts an error familiar to any grade-school student still learning the fine art of spelling.

This being the pared-down NYT, the error managed to make its way through the editorial process and into the print edition this morning -- reminding readers of the paper's declining resources in copy-editing a newspaper that once prided itself of getting everything right.

In a news quiz on grammar published in November of 2008, this is what now-standards editor Philip B. Corbett had to say about the confusion between the words "principle" and "principal:

"Aaarrgh."

Here's a screen grab of the offending passage.


In case you're wondering, here's the rule -- as provided by the NYT-owned website, About.com:

As a noun, principal commonly means "administrator" or "sum of money." As an adjective, principal means "most important." The noun principle means "basic truth" or "rule."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A "week" assed criticism. Could have been the copy desk, a web producer, etc. Who cares.

Anonymous said...

Copyeditors are not too likely to change much of this writer's product.

Bill Toscano said...

If that's the best you can find, they are having a pretty good weak.

(Yes, on purpose)