EDITOR'S COLUMN Love typos? Read your television

A lot of people enjoy looking in the local newspaper for typographical errors, and I can’t blame them. Finding other people’s typos and grammatical transgressions is something many of us enjoy, perhaps because it makes us feel superior to the idiot such as myself who committed them. For all you typo lovers out there, I’ve got great news. Typo heaven is as near as your television set if you know how to use the closed captioning option.

I didn’t know much about closed captioning until we sent our 1982 Mitsubishi TV off to a college dorm last fall and replaced it with a new Panasonic. Only then did I learn that all TV sets built since 1993 have built-in decoder circuitry that allows viewers to display closed captions on their sets. Just click on the “CC” option and words magically appear on the TV screen. It’s not hard to find a captioned show. The government requires captioning on all English language programming.

I’ve pretty much quit watching TV in favor of reading the captions. But you have to know what to read. Movies, sit-coms and all the regular stuff is captioned well in advance, giving the caption people time to catch and fix their errors. For the best typos, read the TV news talking heads as they interview guests on live TV. The caption people go crazy trying to keep up and as a result they make some memorable, if fleeting, gaffs. Some are so stupid that you know there must be a computer involved.

One of the best shows to read is News Night with Aaron Brown on CNN, which airs at 10 p.m. That must be where CNN sends its trainee captioners. I took notes during a one hour show last week, added a few gems from other shows, and am delighted to report the following captioning mistakes, none of which I made up:

Ex-CIA man says he doesn’t follow the party line: “Of course, I’m a hair tick.” Meaning, presumably, he’s a heretic.

A defender of the faith adds: “Especially Chat Looks like me.” Meaning, Catholics like me.

A learned lawyer on the fate of the American Taliban: “John Whacker is going on trial.”

An ex-radical talking about a woman murdered by the Symbionese Liberation Army: “They thought she was a bower bower pig.” That would be a bourgeoise pig, of course.

An old timer remembering past politicians: “They could Las Vegas at themselves.” Well, perhaps this is correct. Who can imaging politicians laughing at themselves?

(Commercial break: “What’s for dinner? I’m a Mignon.” Actually, fillet mignon is for dinner.)

(Channel surfing to Sonics vs. Utah basketball game: “The Jazz have splated it.” “The Sonics started to unralph in the second half.” “That’s Male Lone with another hustle play.” Translations unavailable but suffice it to say the Sonics were blown out.)

(Back to Aaron Brown).

An accounting expert: “There’s a direct connection with Wren Ron.” He was referring to Enron, not a suspicious bird named Ron.

Aaron Brown interviews Ted Kennedy: “If the economy is wrok nothing else is right . . . we need to be investing in churn . . . it mass sense . . . we should be priving Social Security.” The senator meant wrong, children, makes, and protecting, but we can forgive the captioner’s inability to translate Kennedyspeak.

Retired general on bombing Afghanistan: “You can’t avoid Klatt Ratt damage.” As a result, there are few klatt ratts left in Afghanistan, due to collateral damage.

By now, you get the idea. Compared to TV captioning, newspaper errors are mundane, boring and unoriginal. For you typo aficionados, click on “CC” from the menu, and enjoy reading your TV. You’ll never go back to sound.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates