Category Archives: inaccurate hearing

“Everywhere you go, you’ll indefinitely see people glued to their phone.”

Another phone essay, another bizarre image.

People glued to their phone. I won’t make much of the plural possessive pronoun that refers (properly) to a plural noun doing the possessing but disconcertingly refers to a single object possessed, giving the impression (okay, giving me, picky reader extraordinaire, the impression) of group ownership and thus of glued groups…. Okay, one flight of fancy: I wonder how many people could be glued to a single phone, especially something as small as an iPhone. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? (Go here for an illuminating discussion of that celebrated theological debate; here for a relevant cartoon….)

No, I have to look more closely at the adverb in the sentence: “indefinitely.”

My student did NOT mean that “you” would see “in an undefined way,” or “imprecisely see,” or see “without limits” or “vaguely” or “without certainty,” or “through a glass, darkly”: any reader would recognize immediately that she did not mean any of these. Any reader, including the teacher, knows that she meant “definitely”: exactly the opposite of what she wrote. Or at least, putting ourselves in her place, we would look twice at a group of people before pronouncing them glued to anything; we wouldn’t be satisfied with an indefinite impression of that. We would mean “definitely” or not write anything at all.

I would attribute this error to mere carelessness, or perhaps bad cut-and-pasting (deciding to change “instantly” to “definitely,” for instance, but not erasing all of the first choice), except that this student is not the only one in recent years who has written “indefinitely” instead of the intended “definitely.”

What’s going on? Has “indefinitely” joined the ranks of “inflammable,” meaning either definitely or not definitely just as “inflammable” can mean “capable of bursting into flames” or, colloquially and increasingly, “not capable of bursting into flames”? (Webster’s, or at least my edition, has not caught up with this second usage yet, but all around me (everywhere I go) are people who insist that it is correct…) If we’re on a road that leads to the loss of distinction between words and their negated forms, we’re on the road back to communicating entirely by grunts and gestures.

Is there something more hopeful these students are doing? Something that can be, perhaps, corrected?

I’ve written before about writers who, not extensive readers, rely heavily on the heard language, and sometimes don’t hear it correctly (or hear an incorrect version). Usually this shows up in missing or incorrect prefixes and other unstressed syllables, though, not added ones.

Do those who write “indefinitely” when they mean “definitely” come from families who hesitate or gulp before taking the serious step of feeling “definite” about something—and have my writers heard the gulp as an actual prefix that they interpret as “in” or “un”? Or are they among those writers who try to impart gravitas to their writing by choosing words that are longer than necessary, regardless of meaning?

I don’t know. Theories welcome; more important, REMEDIES welcome!

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A summer gift for all those who correct English papers…

I just revisited a site recommended by a friend awhile ago. The first time I read this post I was reduced to tears. This time I was successfully brought to that state of euphoria that follows true hysteria. So today, a reblog of a piece by Debby Thompson published on the blog “Timothy McSweeney’s.” Enjoy!

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-stages-of-grading

Enjoy!


“Romeo and Juliet loved each other to death.”

This is a pretty good summary of the play, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, my student didn’t realize that: that their love led inevitably to their deaths (given their circumstances and personalities and impulsive youth).

Did she mean they loved each other a lot, as so many of us use this phrase: “Oh, I love you to DEATH, John!” (“To death” is used in this same way, to indicate a great amount or intensity, in such phrases as “he talked that subject to death!” and “she bores me to death.” Thus we can see that “to death” doesn’t necessarily carry a positive connotation–is, more often, negative…like death itself, I suppose…)

Judging from the rest of the essay she wrote, I have to think this was not her intention. No, it was an error much more likely: she had in mind the marriage vow to love the other “till death do us part.” Evidently what she had heard, or understood, when she attended weddings was “to death do us part.” So she was telling her reader that Romeo and Juliet kept that vow they probably murmured in Friar Lawrence’s monkish cell. They loved each other every minute until they died. They loved each other all the way to the moment of death. Her essay wasn’t even ultimately about the play; it was about love in general. Many people fall in love and get married and then they get divorced, unlike R&J, who were faithful to the end.

I will prefer to think that the sentence itself was a flash of insight, a conflation of Shakespeare’s entire play, and the fault was in the essay that didn’t live up to the moment of brilliance. A woefully brief visitation from Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy.

And next time I go to see the play in question, as soon as the Chorus mentions the star-crossed lovers, I will think to myself, “Yes, they loved each other—they loved each other to death.” End of story!

Romeo-Juliet-Death

She has already loved him to death; she’ll take his dagger and thus he will have also loved her to death. Death by loving. This engraving, an illustration, from an old book (note “Tales from Shakespeare” in the margin), is all over the Internet. No wonder.

 


“The knight gives his wife the choice, which I found…”

My student is writing about Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” (part of The Canterbury Tales). I’ve written before about the Prologue to the Tale and what my students think of the Wife herself; the Tale itself presents one of the Arthurian legends and gives us an understanding of the Wife’s definition of “what women want.”

According to the story, a young knight more full of self than courtesy encounters a young woman in the woods and decides to have his way with her (droit de seigneur). She accuses him of rape, and he is taken before King Arthur for judgment and sentencing. The King would kill him; but Queen Guinevere and her ladies, perhaps taken by his youth or good looks (shame on them!), persuade Arthur to set him a quest instead, and so he is given a year to find the answer to the question “What do women want?” If he succeeds, he will be free to go; if he fails, he will be executed. A year of wandering and questioning everyone he comes across gives him too many answers, none definitive; the deadline looms on the day that lo and behold! he sees a ring of lovely maidens dancing in a clearing in the woods, but when he approaches them they vanish, leaving nothing but an old (and of course ugly) hag. With a sigh and a shrug he asks her the Question, and she agrees to give him The Answer on condition that on his successful appearance before the Queen he will grant her a request. At court he offers the hag’s answer: Women want maisterye. This term has been translated variously but seems to mean power over their own lives (and perhaps power over their spouses as well). Guinevere and the ladies pronounce his answer correct, and he is freed. His joy is short-lived, however: the hag’s request is that he marry her. His consent shows that he is in fact a man of some honor. But once they are married, he refuses to perform in the marriage bed; she is simply too repulsive for a handsome young man such as himself. Finally she offers him a choice: she will be faithful and a good wife in every way but as ugly as he sees her now, or she will be young and beautiful but definitely not faithful to him. We see that he has taken her wisdom to heart when he answers: “You choose.” And so of course, happily-ever-after, she makes her choice: she will be faithful and young, beautiful and skilled in the homemaking department. That, after all, is what she wants.

You, dear reader, have been so patient, awaiting the completion of my student’s statement, so here it is:

“The knight gives his wife the choice, which I found to be the heroic jester in this story.”

Was it the Days of Yore and kingly setting that suggested a jester, or was it my student’s ignorance of the word “gesture”? Heroism aside, yes, what he has done can be called a “gesture,” in the sense of “geste,” behavior, action, or comportment. The word “gesture” can apply to physical motions that convey thoughts or emotions, or actions intended as formal indications of courtesy in order to impress or persuade, and clearly “gesture,” perhaps in both these senses, is the word he meant. I hold onto the hope that he was being sincere, though, not merely making a gesture—heroic or otherwise.

I certainly hope the knight didn’t intend it as a joke, a bit of merriment, a royal entertainment, the stock-in-trade of jesters.

And I hope my student will someday learn the difference between an heroic action and a comic ploy. Otherwise, I fear his own relationships in the romance department are doomed.


“I have diffidently put effort in.”

Awhile ago I devoted a post to ruminating on an example of this word, “diffident.” That writer was writing about fast food as an eating “path,” and I was comparing this concept to the two paths in Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” especially since my student said the fast-food road was “diffidently not the only one.…”

Today I’m looking at two more examples of that word, edging its way (modestly) into a sentence where it does not belong.

In the example headlining this post, my student assures me (the reader) that he has tried all semester. And in fact, he did work quite hard, coming to my office to work through rough drafts, revising and developing his thoughts. He “diffidently put effort in,” he assures me.

In another example, another student also praised the writing course:

“It was tough but diffidently worth it.”

Now, wouldn’t you think this was the same writer in all three examples? But it was diffidently not.

None of the writers actually meant “1) distrustfully; 2) with hesitation in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence; 3) reservedly, unassertively, shyly” (as Webster’s New Collegiate would have it).

The Fast-food Road Not Taken was not an unassertive road, shyly admitting to being one of several; the student who tried did not try hesitantly or distrustfully; the course did not lack self-confidence or deny its value.

I knew what all three of them meant, and so do you: they meant “definitely,” not “diffidently.” They meant the opposite of what they wrote.

Can this be blamed on AutoCorrect? Or are my students not hearing words correctly? Does the cacophony of modern life drown out significant differences in sound that would communicate significant differences in meaning?

I can’t say, but the possibility scares me, especially since so many of my students admit to doing so little serious reading, and seem to pay such light attention to what they do read. If we are going to leave literacy and again become an aural culture, then shouldn’t we be paying closer attention to pronouncing words carefully? And, ironically, isn’t careful pronunciation partially dependent on attentive reading?

Well, be on the lookout and see what you encounter. And meanwhile, please do encourage young people to “own” their experiments and efforts. Trying diffidently will only obscure errors and blur intentions. We want no timorous students, but instead learners who are bold enough, and wise enough, to present their ideas and work unafraid, confident that any corrections or questions they receive will only help them grow.


“It is tongue and cheek humor.”

How lovable is this?

We are dealing, clearly, with a student who has heard of “tongue-in-cheek” humor and may even know what the term refers to, but who has not actually seen the term written down or seen someone with his tongue in his cheek.

Perhaps, though, my student has done a little carpentry, or read up on antiques? …because lurking behind the error here is that excellent, eye-pleasing, and strong method of connecting two boards edge to edge, the tongue-and-groove joint.

In a situation of knowing them when I see them and understanding how they’re made but not being sufficiently confident to phrase it myself, I offer you this link to a nice demo of tongue and groove. This craftsman’s presentation is clear, straightforward, and good-humored. It is not, however, a tongue-in-cheek presentation, uttered “with insincerity, irony, or whimsical exaggeration,” as Webster’s puts it.

Wandering around the ether also brought me to a nightclub in Atlanta called the Tongue in Groove, which I don’t really want to spend much time contemplating, and an actors’ improv group in Philadelphia whose members claim to be “seamlessly connected” in their efforts (with a group portrait that I actually have to assume is tongue-in-cheek!).

My Uncle Charlie actually used to punctuate his sly jokes by thrusting his tongue into his cheek emphatically enough so I could see the bump, so tongue-in-cheek humor is no mystery to me. If you Google images of “tongue in cheek” you will see a wonderful gallery of people, from President Obama and Stephen Colbert to anonymous little kids, joining my uncle in the gesture.

Where did the expression come from? Any number of online sites will tell you; I particularly like this one because it offers a couple of literary examples, than which nothing could be finer. Most sites will suggest two possibilities, one based on an idea of keeping a straight face while speaking ironically and the other based on the idea of signalling a lie to a confederate—two contradictory theories, but never mind.

Do you suppose no friend or relative of my student ever indulged in shared irony or satirical utterance or false sincerity in his company, such that keeping a straight face necessitated actually biting the tongue, or signalling the real meaning never required tell-tale cheek bumps?

Or maybe somewhere in his unconscious my student was remembering that someone who “kept a straight face” while telling a joke might be considered “wooden-faced”?

Or maybe if I told a good joke, my student would come up and give me a nice sloppy kiss, or a lick, on the cheek?

Well, let’s just enjoy the confusion rather than getting too graphic about the possibilities!

And please, let’s also raise a toast to all those who understand that satire is one noble way of telling the truth. Je suis Charley.


“Less radical than duking people into talking to a false identity…”

I learned a new term while reading student papers this past weekend: “catfish.” I thought I was relatively cyberliterate, but this one I hadn’t seen or heard. My student defined it for his reader: “Not the gill-bearing creature, but the person who creates a false identity on a social networking site to bait people to talk to him or her, and sometimes develop deep relationships. The ‘catfish’ most likely experienced some overwhelming event and uses the alias to escape the unpleasantness of that reality.” Now, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the definition, but at any rate you can see that the writer is no slouch at putting words on paper.

But then, alas, his vocabulary lets him down:

“Less radical than duking people into talking to a false identity is luring them into accepting a reality show as ‘reality.'”

You and I know what he meant. He meant “duping.”

Was this a typo or a mistake? I just went to Word and typed in “duking,” confidently expecting the red underline that means “misspelling” to appear (I’m getting it reliably from WordPress). But evidently Bill Gates is okay with “duking,” because I got neither red underline nor notification when I ran spell-check. “P” and “K” are fairly close on the keyboard, although not close enough to be typed with the same finger…. So maybe it was just an unflagged typo.

Certainly, though, my friend Mr. Webster has no use for “duking.” As far as he’s concerned, “duke” is a noun. It might refer to a “sovereign ruler of a duchy” or other top-ranked hereditary nobleman; it might refer to a kind of hybrid cherry (no idea why); perhaps in relation to the power of the ruler, it might be slang for fist, “especially in the plural.” I could imagine a verbal form, but he doesn’t offer “to duke” as, perhaps, “to confer ducal rank on.”

Webster doesn’t allow a verb “to duke” meaning “to punch with one’s fists,” either, although of course that’s what leaped to my mind when I saw my student’s statement. “Duking people into talking to a false identity,” I imagined, was beating them into submission, into taking a lie for the truth, sort of like forcing them to bow down to a false idol. Or what Lucy said to Charlie Brown in one comic strip: “Admit I’m a lady or I’ll punch you again.”

I have to confess to falling a little in love with this new verb! It’s just one degree of force shy of “decking,” or “knocking down forcibly with the fists”: She duked him again and again, and finally decked him.

If my student had had violence in mind, his “duking” might have been a misspelling or mishearing of “decking,” for that matter. But most of his discussion has to do with deception, stealth, insinuation: not force. The (real) catfish is a bottom feeder and hangs out down there in the mud; I wonder if the cyberterm comes from the idea of lurking. Or maybe its barbels (nice word, that!) deceive observers into thinking it’s an actual cat (an underwater cat…?), and the cyberterm is meant to evoke this deceptive appearance. My student might be implying that the barbels look like worms and thereby attract other critters the catfish might prey on…. Or maybe those barbels, rather innocent-looking but in some species capable of stinging things that come too close, made the cybercoiner think merely of hidden or disguised danger. I have no idea, but I am willing to see in the term some association with false impressions. That’s how I know my student didn’t mean to write “decking.”

Yes, we can be sure he meant “duping.” All that’s unknown is whether he misspelled “duping” or actually thinks the word is “duking.” Until he tells me otherwise, I’m going to enjoy the possibility that it’s the latter.

A channel catfish. His barbels look like a false mustache! A disguise! What a duper. Image from http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/newmelones/fish_species.html.

A channel catfish. His barbels look like a false mustache! A disguise! What a duper. Boxing nobleman, not so much. Image from http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/newmelones/fish_species.html.


“These were pure animal survival instinks.”

Do I have, at last, a student who does form mental pictures when she hears a word? —because surely the idea of “animal survival instinks” is vivid in the mind of someone who has been confronted by, or fears being confronted by, a cornered skunk.

The actress in the production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s play A Picasso (opening tomorrow night under my direction) was late to rehearsal one evening last week. She explained that her charming and generally nonconfrontational dog, Emma, had had a skunk encounter, necessitating emergency baths. Immediately an intense conversation ensued between my actress and my actor, whose own dogs have had their share of skunky set-tos: is a tomato-juice bath the best remedy, or does it merely mingle the smell of skunk with the tang of tomato? Are herbal treatments better? Where have skunk meetings taken place? Whose dogs are smarter/braver/more fastidious? …and of course on into dog stories. I have no dogs but do enjoy dog stories. AND I really like skunks.…Supreme effort of three wills was necessary to bring us back to rehearsal mode.

I happened on a skunk nest (nest? is there another word?) on my way to pick up a pizza one night. Mama and four kits, curled up together in a hollow beside the walkway, a bit under a small shrub. They were simply adorable. Luckily for me, I frequently sing or hum under my breath while walking. People may find me strange, but skunks hear me coming and so are never surprised by me. We gave each other a cautiously amiable look, and then I walked on to the pizza place (and returned by a different route: why tempt fate?). Clearly she felt no threat to the survival of her kits or herself, so she had no need of instinks with me. But if I had been a curious, bouncy dog, her survival instinks would surely have been deployed.

I like to think my student thought of skunks the first time she heard someone refer to “animal instincts” or “survival instincts,” and came up with an appropriate spelling, almost a poetic one. (My friend Philip would call that an “eggcorn,” I believe.)

There’s always the possibility that she was listening to a speaker who didn’t take care to pronounce all his consonants, or that she had never heard or seen the word “instincts,” and she simply assumed the term was spelled the way she thought she heard it—no mental pictures involved at all. That’s a sad thought.

It’s a chancy passage from the ear to the brain and back down out the mouth or typing fingers. If we don’t have enough signposts installed along the way, the word, and consequently the thought, can stumble off the path and wind up at a surprising place that never was the destination—but may seem to be. My student may have intended a simple behavioral observation, but where she wound up was a playground for me!

I have a dear friend who thinks those creepy shiny pincery-looking bugs, earwigs, are called Airwicks. None of my students says “all of a sudden”: they all think the expression is “all the sudden.” Being widely read and hanging around with people who speak with some care are the only defenses against making hundreds of such false assumptions and subsequent errors, living in worlds full of animals with instinks and bugs that are air-fresheners.

I guess if you have one, it would be nice to have the other….


“Blessed are the gentile…”

For today, the Revised Nonstandard Version of several of the Beatitudes. Before sharing this enlightenment, I’ll remind everyone that The Beatitudes is the traditional name for part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Christian Bible, Matthew 5 – 7; you can read the lovely King James Version on Bartleby if you don’t have a Bible handy), a litany of “blessed are”s describing the kind of person Jesus (and thereby God) approves and would like to encourage: collectively, a kind, patient, tolerant, selfless, and spiritually hopeful person whose deprivations on earth will be rewarded by a grateful Father in Heaven (and possibly also by the endorsement of similar individuals on earth).

The Beatitudes was one of the Bible excerpts in my World Lit I anthology, and I thought we had a nice discussion of the style, the message, and the ways in which the message compared with the teachings of the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an, and several other Eastern texts. Later in the semester one of my students was moved to incorporate the Beatitudes in a paper, and here are the ones he thought were particularly noteworthy:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, because there is a kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the gentile, because they shall inherit the earth.”

“Blessed are they who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they shall be feed.”

To be fair: The Norton Anthology didn’t use the King James Version. Also to be fair: my student is not quoting the version the Norton did use, either.

Now, let us take a look at these words of direction and comfort.

The poor in spirit are blessed by the fact that there is a kingdom of heaven. As far as my student is concerned, this seems to be the most Jesus is willing to promise; no guarantees or even suggestions that the poor in spirit will actually go to the kingdom of heaven, let alone inherit it.

There’s no ambiguity or confusion about the next point: the gentile will inherit the earth. King James says the “meek” shall inherit the earth, but the translation the students read said the “gentle” would inherit the earth. Why do students have so much trouble with words that begin “gent” and have an “l” somewhere later? We have all, I’m sure, seen bizarre statements about the “genitals” by writers who were probably writing about “gentiles”…and vice versa.  And here my student must have thought he was talking about people who were meek, gentle. But he didn’t write that. I’d hate to think AutoCorrect has become so cynical, so “now,” as to assume that nobody ever means to write “gentle” anymore; but if I can’t blame AutoCorrect I’m going to have to blame my student. I certainly hope he didn’t actually mean “blessed are the gentile” here, because if so he was seriously disenfranchising the Jewish people, who were not only Jesus’ people and his principal audience but also the people who had been promised back there in the Hebrew Bible that they had been chosen by God to be his people. Now suddenly Jesus is promising the whole earth to the gentiles?  Actually, the word “gentile” per se doesn’t occur in the Jewish or Christian bible, or in the Qur’an; it is a word from the Latin originally meaning “people” or “ethnic group” and applied in Latin translations of the Bible to mean “non-Jew” (people who don’t get a very good rap there, especially in the Old Testament). English translations, generally from the Latin texts, continue this usage, and more largely in English translations of other cultural texts it also stood in for “infidels,” or  “non-believers (in ______ [your faith here]).” When the Qur’an says “gentiles,” it means non-Muslims. And this continues even in texts originally English: To a Mormon, it can mean “non-Mormons.” Anyway, whoever these people are, like a doting lover Jesus is giving them the earth. The chosen-people-of-your-choice must be pretty frustrated.

Finally, those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness are not going to get righteousness; they’re going to be turned into some kind of Soylent Green for those who, presumably, are less urgent about their desires. (My student might have meant “paid a stipend,” as in “feed” as the past form of “to fee,” or to pay. But I really don’t think he did mean that. How often do you hear college students use “fee” as a verb?) No, Jesus must have been giving the needy some straight talk: The rich get richer, and the full get fuller by munching their feed, those hungry-thirsty people. Literally serves them right, get me?

The Sermon ton the Mount. Not everybody looks happy...must be some non-Gentiles in the audience? This image, a nineteenth-century painting by Carl Bloch, can be found on a zillion Internet sites, one of which is http://www.carlbloch.com/php/artwork.php?artwork=686

The Sermon on the Mount. Not everybody looks happy…must be some non-Gentiles in the audience? This image, a nineteenth-century painting by Carl Bloch, can be found on a zillion Internet sites, one of which is http://www.carlbloch.com/php/artwork.php?artwork=686


“In the Aeneid the power of the Queen of Carthage is impressive…”

Yes, it is. The Carthage episode is the principal one in the Aeneid selections included in my World Lit I anthology, and since it brings together a lot of important aspects of the story as tale and as poem I like to take time on it. With Aeneas we gaze in amazement at the busy and sophisticated city of Carthage, still under construction; with him we look upon its Queen and marvel at her beauty, her wisdom, and her power. My student has clearly taken those aspects to heart.

The Queen’s name is Dido, and there is some debate about how to pronounce it—Latin (DEE-doh) or Britified (DIE-doh). In fact I comment on this and warn my students that I will try to consistently use the former but will probably slip into the latter, which was the pronunciation favored by the professor in whose class I first met The Aeneid.

I hope some students found this small digression interesting, especially in a class where we frequently comment on the losses consequent on reading material in translation rather than in its original language.

The student here, however, did not; or at least he did not absorb much from the actual pages of the epic, because he added not only a third pronunciation option but also quite a new spelling:

“In the Aeneid the power of the Queen of Carthage is impressive. She is described as a beautiful woman. Her name is Ditto.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I always looked forward to the Sunday “funny papers.” If Wikipedia is to be trusted, I was four years old when Mort Walker created the comic strip Beetle Bailey. I could read the newspaper by myself at that age (indeed, at three!), but I didn’t make a regular practice of it. I think I started reading the funny papers around age six. And there, along with Nancy and Our Boarding House and Dennis the Menace and Dondi (Korean War orphan) and Little Orphan Annie (not a Korean War orphan, but ward of Daddy Warbucks) and the gorgeous Prince Valiant and the exotic Buck Rogers and the great role model Brenda Starr and the angular Dick Tracy and, blessedly, Peanuts, was Camp Swampy, populated by the lazy eponymous Beetle, the irascible Sergeant Snorkel and his faithful dog Otto, the luscious Miss Buxley, and  many others, including Beetle’s brother-in-law and sister, Hi and Lois, and their kids—Chip, Trixie, and the twins, Dot and Ditto. In 1954 Hi and Lois got their own strip, where their kids had plenty of room to shine; but they still occasionally visited Beetle, and Beetle occasionally visited them. In my mind, if your name is “Ditto,” you’re a chubby blond eight-year-old boy with nice parents, a lazy lowly GI uncle,  and a big dog (“Dawg”), and you have something to do with lazy soldiers.

For Aeneas, the murals adorning the walls of the temple of Juno in Carthage evoke tears for the destruction of Troy. For me, the name Ditto evokes neither wonder nor admiration—a queen named Ditto can’t be powerful or beautiful. Someone named Ditto lies prone on the Sunday carpet, coloring book in hand, shaggy dog nearby, and is visited by an uncle in sloppy fatigues.

For someone who wasn’t a devotée of the funny papers, “ditto” is the double dot, or an uncurly quotation mark, meaning “same as above.” And that’s not a very good name for a queen, either.

Blame student laziness (à la Beetle Bailey!) or AutoCorrect if you will, but this howler made its way onto my desk in a paper the student hoped would impress me. Impress me it did. I’ll never be able to think of Queen Dido without seeing those dots, and that little blond kid—dots over her head maybe, kid in her arms next to Aeneas’ boy Iulus.

Farewell, O tragic queen.