Dept. of Oops

The Economist is, almost inarguably, a great magazine.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make the occasional mistake. Consider this lead from a recent article about a huge Mexican mining company called Fresnillo, which was recently listed on the London Stock Exchange:

In the hills north east of Mexico City it is not uncommon to find Cornish pasties for sale.

They meant to write “pastries” but, considering that miners work really hard, they might also be hoping to encounter the kind of people who go shopping for pasties.

I have made plenty of similar errors myself. I read this mistake in the print edition of The Economist and fully expected it to be corrected in the online edition — but, as of when I included the link above, it hadn’t been.

Regardless, correcting typos is one of the great benefits of online journalism — which, according to Steve Ballmer, will be the only kind of journalism in 10 years.

Here’s another oops I saw recently, in a letter from a person hoping to be elected to a board whose identity I’ll keep secret. This is the sentence that caught my eye:

One of my goals in being on the Board is to increase the transparency of the Board, i.e. make it more easy for everyone to communicate.

“More easy” — a.k.a. “easier.” To communicate. For everyone.

And finally, a very strange error from the Washington Post, in which a year-old article was published anew:

The Post ran a story last Sunday by John Scheinman about the annual Colonial Turf Cup race at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. It didn’t sound right to reader Susan Robinson of Richmond. She said she was “amazed to see that Summer Doldrums was reported to be the winner . . . That horse did not run on Saturday, June 21, 2008. He did win the race in a previous year … I was at the race on Saturday and I can attest to the fact that that horse did not run on Saturday … However, how could such a mistake have been made?”

Scheinman, who writes about horse racing as a free-lancer, covered the event, as he did last year, but he mistakenly sent in last year’s story. No one noticed and it was published.

[Addendum: It looks like I am the one in need of a correction: see comments below, which show that The Economist was right. I guess it is an even more excellent magazine than I thought. At least I learned something new today.]

[Addendum 2: in (very slight) defense of my "pasties" error, consider the sentence that followed the "Cornish pasties for sale" sentence in the Economist article: "At least the pastry shells originated in Cornwall, but the fillings -- such as chocolate-flavoured chicken mole -- are distinctly Mexican." It seems strange that "pastry" would become "pasties," but I guess no more strange than "Margaret" becoming "Peggy."]

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  1. Hammy says:

    Except, that they don’t mean pastries. They meant pasties.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_pasties

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  2. Stephanie says:

    They didn’t mean pastry…they are called Cornish Pasties, no r.

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  3. Vanessa Spence says:

    The Economist meant “pasties”. This is what a Cornish pastie is in the UK:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasty

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  4. Chris says:

    The Economist did not misspell pastries — see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_pastie for more.

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  5. jlk says:

    It’s not error – there really are Cornish pasties (pronounced pass-tee, not paste-ee). I grew up in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan which also had a huge number of Cornish miners in the last century and these are basically the equivalent of the Chicago hot dog, the New York pizza, the Philly cheesesteak, etc.

    Though tourists to the area are often confused and think people are joking with them.

    Also, butter and ketchup, never gravy.

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  6. lucas says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasty

    It appears there is a Cornish pasty.

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  7. Stephen Catchpole says:

    Cornish Pasties is probably what he meant – although the Devon crowd will have you think otherwise (they claim to have invented them).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_pastie

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  8. Debbie says:

    “Cornish pasties” is correct though. See Wikipedia entry for pasty:

    “A pasty (Cornish: Pasti, Tiddy Oggy, pronounced /?pæsti/ (the ‘a’ pronounced as in ‘cat’), or less commonly pastie) is a filled pastry case, commonly associated with Cornwall, United Kingdom. It differs from a pie as it is made by placing the filling on a flat pastry shape, usually a circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package. The traditional Cornish pasty is filled with diced meat, sliced potato and onion[1], and baked. Pasties with many different fillings are made; some shops specialise in selling all sorts of pasties…”

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