Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lots of Gibberish In Story About Fat-Drinking Commercial

Which is more disgusting: The newly-released commercial by the New York City Health Department, or the sloppy copy in a news story about the commercial? In the commercial, a man is shown guzzling a glass of what is supposed to be fat, the health department's not-so-subtle way of denouncing gluttonous soda drinking. In the article published on the Web site of WCBS local news in New York, there's an instance of what appears to be a typo that resulted in gibberish in the seventh graph and then, in the second-to-last graph, there's just plain gibberish.

As you can see highlighted in the screen shot above, WCBS combined the words "the" and "obesity" to create "thobesity." Sorry, WCBS. That's not a recognized portmanteau. Highlighted in the below screen shot, WCBS uses "widash" in the middle of a sentence. Wait, what? Having never seen widash used earnestly as a word before, the Proofreader looked it up and couldn't find an entry for it in several credible online dictionaries.

To make sure WCBS wasn't getting all highbrow in a story with a lowbrow hook, the Proofreader consulted Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large of the OED and author of The F-Word. If widash is some brand-new or über-obscure word, Sheidlower would know and he says it isn't. In an e-mail message, he writes that widash "seems pretty clearly to be a typo or some artifact of the publication process, rather than any new word or even a thinko of some kind."

As for which is more disgusting, perhaps it's a toss-up. Click here to see the commercial of the guy drinking a glass of fat.

The Proofreader thanks Jesse Sheidlower.


The Natural State Hawg said...

Obviously, they were too excited about the prospect of drinking that mean ole soda that they just rushed something out the door in order to save the public.

Proofreading? Making sense? Phooey - the public is in danger!

The Hawg!

Slapinions said...

I found an error in the following SI article. The writer states Johnson will "become replace Matsui".

I thought maybe you'd enjoy it.

stan said...

I suspect the original copy probably said "with a dash," but a few characters were accidentally deleted.

J. Alfred Proofreader said...

@ Stan:

Interesting theory.

If so, a few characters AND a couple of spaces were deleted or omitted. Something that certainly should've been caught by a proofreader or copy editor.

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