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Raghavendra Rau

Raghavendra Rau

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
Forwarded-by: Peter Langston[]

[There is a disease that college freshmen (especially non-native speakers) get called "Thesaurusitis" -- it involves rewriting a paper by replacing all short words with long synonyms from the thesaurus. Unfortunately, the results are usually dreadful, if not amusing. The babelfish game of using computer programs to translate a paper from English into French ("It loses something in the original." -James Thurber) and then back again, can give equally atrocious results. And then there are the long unreadable articles with every word misspelled, but in such a way that spell-checkers can't tell. But this Fun-Item describes something else altogether... -psl].

Forwarded-by: "Jack D. Doyle" [doylej@PEAK.ORG]
[Mark Israel posted this in He is the "I" in the following.]

I was correcting the English in a report written by my roommate (who is Swiss-German and is here doing postgraduate work in educational psychology). She had written: "Mike prevented William from working by putting his hand over William's keyboard. Mike found this very sparingly and did it again and again."

I asked her, "What do you mean by 'sparingly'?"

She replied that she had originally written "funny", but when she ran the report through the grammar-checker on her computer, it told her that "funny" was trite and suggested "sparingly" as a substitute.

Baffled, I crossed out "sparingly" and wrote "amusing".

The next morning, it hit me: the grammar-checker must have said something like: "The word 'funny' is trite. Use sparingly."