Mistakes Are the Best Teachers

A few days ago, I joined the year 2010 (only a few years late!) and made an Instagram account. It’s called, unsurprisingly, leethelinguist.

I made my first post, and what did I notice a few minutes later? A typo! I blame it on my iPhone’s autocorrect! I’d mentioned how my day job was having a technical problem on their end, so I had more time to write posts. Of course, it autocorrected to “there end,” which is something I would instantly notice anywhere! And I did notice it right away but only after I had nervously posted the photo. Before any of my *zillions* of followers could see it and criticize me, I quickly commented on the photo that autocorrect had gotten me!

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Malapropism Monday, Week 4 — Compliment vs. Complement

It’s Monday again! You know what that means, right? I still have some malapropisms left on my list, so I’ll continue with this series a while longer.

Today I wanted to focus on the use and misuse of “compliment” and “complement.” This is a pair of words that people mix up all the time, in my experience. In fact, I mentioned it in my recent post on TokyoTreat snack subscription boxes. Here’s a screenshot from their (overall enjoyable and well-done) magazine that comes in the box:

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City of Love: Paris — iPhone Game Review

Before I got married, I used to play video games. I loved Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Game Boy back in the day! This is one of the things my husband liked about me when we met. When I lived in Japan, I even bought the Game Boy Advance that was a lovely pearl pink color, which at the time was only available in Japan; I got the old-school Zelda and Mario rereleases that came out for it at the time. I know, I’m dating myself!

Once we had our first daughter, I had no more time for games. Well, more accurately, I didn’t prioritize them, much to my husband’s chagrin. He was in grad school, I was working and taking care of the baby, and we were exhausted. To be honest, I still don’t really have the desire to prioritize games like I used to — I can always think of a hundred other things to do! I know this annoys him because he makes video games for a living. Sorry, Honey!

A week or so ago, I came across an iPhone game called City of Love: Paris, by a developer called Ubisoft. I can’t even remember how I heard of it! Maybe I was researching materials for learning French? I have no idea. Anyway, the concept sounded intriguing: you’re an American woman working in Paris and solving a mystery while enjoying French culture and possibly finding video game romance. Oh là là!

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TokyoTreat Box — January 2017 Edition!

こんばんは! That’s konbanwa or “good evening” to those of you who can’t read Japanese. Well, in Japan it’s the morning now, but here in California it’s the evening, so I’m going with it.

Today I’m starting a series that I hope to continue a long time. You’ve probably seen or heard about all kinds of monthly subscription boxes where you sign up to receive a box of products chosen for you to fit a particular theme. I’ve seen them for makeup, baby items, toys, various hobby items, and of course all kinds of niche foods.

I lived in Japan for 3 years total and I’ve always appreciated Japanese snacks and treats. Of course, Japan is famous for healthy food, but when the Japanese do something, they tend to go all out and produce a great product no matter what it is. Snacks are no exception! Japanese goodies are cute, creative, with lovely (and easy-to-open) packaging, and generally less sweet than their American counterparts.

One day I was wasting time on Facebook and came across an ad for a subscription box called TokyoTreat. Their website looked attractive and their products looked tasty, with a good mix of familiar and new-to-me cookies, candies and chips. I decided to order a six-month subscription of the regular size to try it out. I paid about $140 up front for six months’ worth, which includes a small discount compared to subscribing a month at a time.

A few weeks later, this is what I got in the mail:

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Typo Tuesday, Week 4

My MS Word document full of typos is so long, I’m going to start adding at least two screenshots per entry for Typo Tuesday. At some point I may run low and change that, but I doubt it will happen soon because I come across typos all the time.

First up for today, we have another entry from the Wordfast CAT (computer-assisted translation) software I checked out before a job interview.

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Language Links


I’m Thomas, and I help out behind the scenes, keeping this blog up and running from the technical side of things. Part of that includes looking over the internet to find cool content that can be included in a weekly links page.

I’m also the recipient of a lot of Lee’s help with typos and grammar mistakes, hence the nom de plume, “Thomas Typo.”

This week’s links:

People make the most typos when…

From DMN News. What time of day, and via what platform, do people make the most mistakes online?

Grammar police strikes again…

From Story Pick. There’s an amusing twitter account called “Grammar Police” that corrects the grammar of celebrity and other notable Twitter users.

Prescription typo causes poisoning…

From That’s Life. This has a happy ending, but yeah, pretty scary.

Alexa adds support for other languages…

Amazon’s popular device adds some additional language support.

Yakuza 0 game localization…

Via Gematsu. I’m a big fan of the Yakuza series, and video games in general, especially Japanese games. Yakuza 0 is the latest and it’s pretty great!

Students create grammatically correct, random sentences…

Via PTLeader.

“Japanese for All Occasions” E-book Typos

こんばんは! (Good evening!)

I wasn’t feeling too great today, so I had decided to take the day off from posting and just read an e-book instead. Of course, the result of that decision was that the e-book I started reading through our library’s Hoopla service (a wonderful resource, by the way!) had typo after typo after typo, and I’m only a few chapters into the book!

The book is called Japanese for All Occasions by Anne Kaneko. I put the title in quotation marks for the post title because I can’t use italics there. Perhaps there’s a way, but I haven’t figured it out. Anyway, overall it seems to be a useful book since it’s chock full of phrases for everyday life in Japan. Japanese culture and language are highly contextual, with many situations having a set phrase that people are expected to use to maintain politeness. Most of the phrases I already knew, since Japanese was my minor in college and I lived there almost 3 years in total, but I always enjoy finding a new phrase or word I can use. And the book is free to me through Hoopla, so why not?

Sadly, the book suffers from several errors in the Japanese text, which is unfortunate for a book whose aim is to teach Japanese. From what I’ve read so far, the English explanations and translations are perfect, but the Japanese needed more proofreading. Well, here I am! I’ve only read partway through Chapter 3 in a book that has 15 chapters! Hopefully the rest of the book will be better.

In this screenshot, what they have as isogashikuit should be “isogashikute.” Anyone who is familiar with Japanese phonetics would know that the former is not possible to pronounce in Japanese. This would be rather confusing to a beginner.

In this picture, the error isn’t nearly as egregious, but it’s there. The word for “child” in Japanese is “kodomo,” but they have it as “KoDōmo,” which, in addition to the strange capitalization of the “d,” indicates a long “o” sound in Japanese, which is incorrect for this word.

The error in this image is pretty minor. In one instance it says “O-sak ni,” which is missing the final “i” in the phrase “O-saki ni.” Still, it could confuse a beginner.

The error in this image may be due to the Japanese proofreader’s unfamiliarity with English letters, since in romaji (writing Japanese with English letters) “mammasu” looks similar to the correct “mairimasu.” This is especially so with the font and italics in this book.

This is a minor error with just one letter wrong since instead of “Tukkuri” it should be “Yukkuri,” but again, if you’re a beginner, you’d learn the wrong word and communication with Japanese people would be impeded. Not what you want from a book on foreign language learning.

Another minor error here. This one is only an extra space in the word “Iie,” but again, confusing to a beginner.

Here’s another example where the font and relative unfamiliarity with writing Japanese in romaji may have tripped them up. The word “chmgami” is not possible in Japanese phonetics, and it should instead say “chirigami.”

This one has two typos, both of which form words that are impossible pronunciations in Japanese. The first is that the word “ukagaimasmta” should be “ukagaimashita.” The second is “Shujm,” which should be “Shujin.”


So that’s what I’ve found in this book so far. Again, rather disappointing to see so many Japanese errors in a book that teaches Japanese. The actual content seems beneficial, but the proofreading needs some help. If I were a beginner I’d either be confused about the Japanese sound system or I’d be learning some incorrect Japanese. I’m sure that’s not the author’s intention.

I didn’t get these wrong, did I? I wasn’t wearing my glasses but these typos jumped out at me.


Typo Tuesday, Week 2!

Welcome back to another edition of Typo Tuesday! I have a long Word document full of typo screenshots I’ve taken recently, but today’s post comes indirectly from a comment I received on yesterday’s post. The comment was about the ubiquitous misuse of the word “literally,” and in finding an article to add to my response, I came across not one, not two, but three typos in a small section of the article I found.

Keep in mind, I only skimmed the article, so there may be even more errors I didn’t notice — and there probably are more errors to find if I was able to find three in just a small area. I took a screenshot of the section where the first typo popped out at me, and in the process of cropping the picture, I noticed two more! Can you find them? I’ll post the original screenshot and then the same shot with boxes around the typos. Here we go…

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Malapropism Monday

First of all, do you know what a “malapropism” is? It’s the misuse of a word, often similar in sound to the apropos word, which changes the meaning of the sentence to something ridiculous. See what I did there? I used the word “apropos,” which means “appropriate” or “pertinent.” The prefix “mal-” means “bad, wrong, or ill;” add it to “apropos” and you get that a malapropism is a wrong usage of a word.

I don’t know if I’ll have one of these every week, but when I do, it’s Malapropism Monday! For our first installment, I’d like to discuss one that drives me nuts, and I see it everywhere — especially on the internet! I think when people are writing, they defiantly mean well, but…

Did you catch it? Yes, today’s malapropism is using “defiantly” when “definitely” should be used! To tell the difference, think about the root verb “defiantly” comes from: defy. If you do something defiantly, you’re defying someone or something. If you can’t name the person or entity being defied, you probably meant to use “definitely.” I definitely want everyone to start using these two words correctly! I will defiantly blog against the misuse of “defiantly.” Get it?

As with many of the errors I find, this will not be caught by a spell checker if “defiantly” is spelled correctly but used wrong. I doubt even a grammar checker would catch it, either, since both words are adverbs. You just have to know the difference, or get help from someone who does!

Sentence 1: I’m definitely going to scream the next time I see this mistake.

Sentence 2: I’m defiantly going to scream the next time I see this mistake.

Can you tell the difference? Both are correct sentences, but they have different meanings. Sentence 1 means I will certainly scream, while the second sentence means I will rebel against the forces of ignorance by screaming — probably not effective, but it’s possible to do.

I found this page with more examples: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/10/definitely-versus-defiantly-difference/.

So that’s the first edition of Malapropism Monday. Do you have any more examples of this one? Any other malapropisms you’d like to see discussed here?

Store Sign Editing

We had a pretty busy weekend around here, but I came across a typo-filled sign that was part of a store display. Might as well post it!

Yes, of course I was in a store that sells cute Japanese goods! That’s one of the perks of living in the Bay Area. Where I last lived, in Wisconsin, this stuff was not easy to come by. Anyway, this sign really needs some help. The most basic and least subjective problem is that “doesn’t” is misspelled. Any spell checker would have caught that.

My other critiques are more subjective but I think they’re quite valid. To start, the top line of the sign that says “Iwako Eraser” should add “s” at the end because they’re selling many erasers, not just one.

In addition to that, the brand name “Iwako” should be capitalized, and if it were up to me, I’d completely rewrite the “iwako 3 reasons for kids” part. I get the meaning, but it just sounds clunky. I’d probably phrase it something like, “3 reasons Iwako erasers are great for kids:” and continue from there.  I’d rewrite the descriptions of the three reasons as well.

For the first reason describing why the erasers are great, I’d change it to: “Passed the JIS 6050 eraser quality test in Japan,” or “Passed the Japanese eraser quality test (JIS 6050).” I don’t think anyone in the US knows what a JIS 6050 test is, so adding the word “quality” tells you what you need to know. “It” is superfluous here. If you keep the version that says “in Japan,” the word “in” should not be capitalized as they have it in the sign now.

The second reason isn’t bad but lacks consistency. Are we capitalizing all the main words in the ad or not?

The third reason, other than the misspelling, isn’t horrible either, but I’d simplify it to: “No PVC or lead!” Easy and gets the point across.

That’s my compulsive proofreading and editing of the day!