Lie, Lady, Lie

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? We all know Dylan’s song — it’s “Lay Lady Lay,” with no commas (although there should be, rightfully), and the verb form is incorrect, but hey. Dylan.

Because who needs grammar when you're Bob Dylan?
Because who needs grammar when you’re Bob Dylan?

By request (you know who you are!), I’m revisiting lie/lay. I’ve written at least two usage tips about this at G+, but now my explanation will be immortalized here at the blog. (Until someone nukes the site, anyway.) So, without further ado . . .

Lie is an intransitive verb. That means there’s no direct object acted upon by the subject of the verb. In other words, you don’t lie a book on a table. (That sounds ridiculous, too, doesn’t it?) The forms of lie are lie, lay, and lain. I lie down when I’m tired. I lay down for a while yesterday afternoon. I have lain down on many occasions. (I won’t go into the discussion of the propriety of “down” in this construction. Clearly, one can’t lie up, but there is the phrase “laid up,” which is an idiomatic expression meaning “unable to function due to an injury or illness,” often equating to “lying down because standing up is painful.” Gotta love it, don’t we?)

Lay is a transitive verb. That means it takes a direct object, the thing being acted on by the subject of the verb. The action is being transferred (transitive, transfer — see?) to the object. The forms of lay are lay, laid, and laid. I lay the shirt on a towel on the table, because I don’t have an ironing board. (I’m acting on that shirt by laying it on the table.) I laid a book on that table yesterday, and now I can’t find it. I have laid things all over this house, for that matter. Some dialects use “lay” for “lie” and add a reflexive pronoun, like this: “I lay myself down.” It’s even in a very common bedtime prayer, in a slightly different form: “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

I lie, you lie, she/he/it lies, they lie, we lie are the present-tense (root) forms for “lie.”

I lay, you lay, she/he/it lay, they lay, we lay are the simple past forms for “lie.” “The dog lay motionless in the middle of the street.” Note there is no -s on the end of this form. She lay, he lay, it lay.

I have lain, you have lain, she/he/it has lain, they have lain, we have lain are the past participle forms for “lie.” (Note that only the third-person singular takes “has” as the auxiliary verb; all others take “have.”)

I lay, you lay, she/he/it lays, they lay, we lay are the present-tense (root) forms for “lay.” Note the s on the end of the third-person form: She lays, he lays, it lays. “The dog lays a bone at its master’s feet.” It’s easy to confuse this with “lay” (the past tense of “lie”) if you’re not paying attention to the meaning.

I laid, you laid, she/he/it laid, they laid, we laid are the simple past forms for “lay.”

I have laid, you have laid, she/he/it has laid, they have laid, we have laid are the past participle forms for “lay.” The same as with “lain,” only the third-person singular form takes “has.”

Now that I’ve laid that all out for you, I might lie down for a bit.

If Cambridge University Press ain’t safe, ain’t nobody safe.

I’ve talked about this before in other venues, but this time I’m including photographic proof.

When as prestigious a company as Cambridge University Press releases a book — and not just any book, but a dictionary with a study guide — with an egregious typographical error, we can be assured that no one is safe from the threat.

Perfection in a finished written work is a lofty goal, and one that is not always (perhaps never) attainable. Still, we should work toward it whether we’re Cambridge University or Joe Blow.

Memories stay (and so do typos)

“Moments Fade, But Memories Stay.” That’s the motto on the cover of the 2013 yearbook for Moorhead (Minnesota) High School.

True enough. In fact, students this year will have a special kind of memory.

yearbook

The name of their school is misspelled on the cover of the yearbook. The cover says “Moorehead High School.” And Moorhead also happens to be the name of the town, so you’d think it would be the kind of word that’d be hard to get wrong.

Supposedly, the cover was checked by an adviser and several classes of students who worked on the yearbook. (A spokeswoman for the school district said they aren’t granting interviews with the unnamed adviser. I’d go into hiding, too.)

The district doesn’t have the money to reprint the yearbooks. Instead, they’re talking about putting a sticker over the error.

I like this quote from Moorhead junior Zach Ahrends: “[It’s] kind of sad they can’t spell our city’s name right.”

At least it will give the students something to write about in each other’s yearbooks when they get tired of 2 COOL 2 BE 4 GOTTEN.

(Thanks to this site for reporting on the story. That’s where the above photo comes from.)

 

Typos 150 Yards Tall and other stories

There sure seem to be plenty of typos in the news lately. (Probably the Mayans again.)

First, a man in Washington state used his tractor to plow a marriage proposal into a field. The letters were 150 yards tall. He flew his girlfriend, Jody, up in a plane so she could see the popped question from above. Unfortunately, his tractor didn’t have a spellcheck—he had plowed the first letter of her name backward.

(The photo comes from this site; I added the arrow.)

Next, we have another entry in the Worst Possible Way to Misspell “Public” Sweepstakes. This one also comes from Washington state. (Something in the water?) The Washington Charter School Resource Center placed a newspaper ad to spotlight an upcoming conference. Neither the center nor the newspaper noticed that a crucial “L” was missing from the word “public.”

(The photo comes from this site. Interestingly, the story there links to a similar mishap that happened in May 2012, when the University of Texas handed out commencement programs to families of students graduating from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Yeah—you know what happened.)

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs issues pubic typo correction

Longtime readers of this blog might remember a banner displayed at a football game that asked sponsors to “become a partner in pubic education.”

And finally, the Toronto Sun newspaper recently ran a correction notice to fix an error about whether teachers had been paid during a work stoppage. Unfortunately, they now need to run a correction about the correction.

(The photo comes from this site; I added the arrow.)

Is there a lesson to learn here? Maybe it’s just that no matter how bad your typo is, at least it’s not plowed into the ground 150 yards tall. Probably. I can’t vouch for all of you.

Carved in stone

Some mistakes are harder to erase than others. In Oklahoma, state representative Mike Ritze sponsored a bill (and donated money) to install a granite monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol building. The monument is 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and it weighs 2,000 pounds.

One potential problem is that it might invite a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union because the monument violates the separation of church and state. But perhaps of more immediate concern is the fact that the granite contains a few spelling errors.

The Fourth Commandment mistakenly says, “Remember the Sabbeth day, to keep it holy.” (The correct spelling is Sabbath.)

The Tenth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidseruant . . .” That final word, of course, should be maidservant. (Or perhaps this is actually a clever way to get around the rule. “Hey, God’s totally cool with me coveting my neighbor’s maidservant! It’s just the maidseruants I’ve gotta stay away from.”)

Ritze plans to have the misspellings corrected. No word on whether he’s adding another commandment that says, “Thou shalt not skip the spellcheck.”

The photo comes from this site.

Let’s cheer on the Cncinnati Reds!

Here’s a fantastic collection of photos showing some astounding that’s-gotta-be-Photoshopped typos on professional sports jerseys. The misspelled player names are fun, but the real wowsers are the team name screw-ups, like the San Francicso Giants (#9), the Kentcuky Wildcats (#11), the Cncinnati Reds (#23), and many more. My favorite might be the way “Navy” is misspelled on the jersey in the inset on photo #20:

(In fairness, that might pass as a phonetic spelling of the team name.)

No insightful commentary from me. Just go enjoy the gallery. And be glad that your typos aren’t usually displayed for all the world to see (and photograph).

(Thanks to Kevin P. for alerting me to this amazing gallery!)

Super Mario and Hitler

I went to GenCon last week and have been thinking a lot about games, so what better time to bring you a trio of game-related typos?

Our first howler comes from New Super Mario Bros. 2, a recent release for the Nintendo 3DS. The Mario games are extremely popular across all Nintendo game systems, so this isn’t exactly a tiny error in an obscure product that no one will ever see.

No, Mario, I don’t want to click OK! That implies my acceptance of the typo hovering right above the button! (The above image is a screenshot I took of a short video that documents the error, proving it isn’t a fake.)

Our second typo is also from the New Super Mario Bros. 2 game, this time from the manual. (Yeah, yeah, I know—errors in an instruction manual? The devil you say!)

According to the note below the cute diagram, co-op play requires two Nintendo 3DS systems, two game cards, and two game cards. Is that Nintendo’s sneaky way of saying you need to buy four game cards? (The above image comes from this article that documents the typo.)

Let’s give poor Mario a break now and turn to our third typo, which comes from the world of Major League Baseball. I can’t improve on the title of the article where I found this typo, so I’ll just echo it here: There are closed captioning typos, and then there’s calling Carlos Pena “Hitler.”

It’s nice to know that Godwin’s law holds even in baseball games. (By the way, the expression on Pena’s face above is crying out for a “WTF?” thought bubble to be Photoshopped above his head.)

Thanks to the GRAMMARGEDDON! readers who alerted me to some of these mistakes. And if you see anything worth spotlighting on the blog, feel free to send it in. Your efforts will be also be appreciated.