Real World Language Mistakes, Volume 3

Spot the Differences!

Irish Examiner, Weekend supplement, October 2013: ‘Take Alexa’s advise [sic] – get out of your comfort zone.’

Sunday Independent, November 2013: LIVING supplement:
‘Americans carry their driver’s license [sic] everywhere …

Sunday Times, 08/12/2013: ‘After qualifying as a doctor, I practiced [sic] for a year …’

Irish Examiner, 01/02/2014: ‘The amount of license [sic] fee money RTE paid …’

The following pairs of words are not interchangeable: advice & advise, licence & license, device & devise and practice & practise.

The words with the ‘c’ are nouns while the words with the ‘s’ are verbs. So, while we may well wish for Alexa to advise us, we may or may not take her advice. I wonder does she have a driver’s licence! Or what she practises in her practice!

While on the subject of easily mixed-up words, be aware that the word ‘psyche’ is both a noun and a verb.

‘psyche’ as a verb is pronounced as ‘sike’ ( rhymes with ‘bike’)
‘psyche’ as a noun is pronounced as ‘sikey’ ( rhymes with ‘Mikey’)

‘I tried to psyche (‘sike‘) him out of it, but his Irish psyche (‘sikey‘) withstood my attempts to unsettle him.’

Spelling Woes!

An advertisement in a Tralee hotel regarding its Christmas diary of seasonal activities included the words ‘recieve‘ [sic] (receive) and ‘accomodation‘ [sic] (accommodation).

A Sunday Times headline stated that ‘… will create an enviroment [sic] where only the top standards are acceptable.’ (environment)

The Irish Examiner, 15/02/2014:

‘It would be a stretch to say that Mr Shatter mislead [sic] the Dáil.’ (misled), 20/02/2014:

‘He went bezerk [sic] …’ (berserk)

Sign in a shop in Cork:

‘Sorry for any inconvince [sic] caused.’ (inconvenience)

The most commonly misspelt words include:

  • harassment (harrassment)
  • embarrassment (embarassment)
  • separate (seperate)
  • definitely (definately)
  • unconscious (unconsious)
  • necessary (nessessary)
  • focused (focussed)
  • benefited (benefitted)
Singin’ the Blues!

Irish Examiner, October 2013:

The writer of an article on austerity referred to ‘swingeing cuts’. The headline writer referred to ‘swinging cuts’. Incidentally, it was the weekend of the Cork Jazz Festival.

Headline Writers and Transcription! How does it all go wrong?

1) home page:

  • News Report: ‘…nieces…’
  • Headline: ‘…neices…’

2) Irish Examiner, 25/11/2013: Re: World Cup of Golf

News Report: ‘Australia’s Jason Day … to win the individual prize … and also claimed the team prize.’

Headline: ‘Day’s day as he also helps SA (presumably South Africa) win team prize.’

Maybe Jason Day has dual nationality!

3) The Sunday Times, 08/12/2013: Re: Leinster Club S.F.C.

  • News Report: ‘…Dublin’s supremacy…’
  • Headline: ‘…Dublin supremecy …’

4), 25/02/2014:

  • News Report: ‘…as part of an ongoing feud.’
  • Headline: ‘…as part of an ongoing fued.’

5) Sunday Independent, 16/03/2014:

  • News Report: ‘…claimed the penalty points system benefited…’
  • Headline: ‘…system benefitted…’

6) Sunday Independent, 23/03/2014:

  • News Report: ‘Dragons’ Den star …’
  • Headline: ‘Dragon’s Den star…’

7), 18/04/2014:

  • News Report: ‘…girls’ school.’
  • Headline: ‘…girl’s school.’

It is said that fear is our greatest emotion. Apparently, the excitement and joy of winning the lottery jackpot is no match for the prospect of walking down a dark alley in the dead of night with shadowy figures lurking along the route.

The fear of the apostrophe can be a nightmare for some writers of English. The sign in the bookshop reads CHILDRENS; the restaurant menu reads TODAYS SPECIAL & PASTA’S; the sign on the van says FREE TOWN DELIVERY’S; IRELANDS FIRST BITCOIN ATM received plenty of publicity recently; and a shopping mall in Cork claims to be CORKS BOUTIQUE BOULEVARD.


For apostrophobics, all nouns ending in ‘s‘ appear to be targeted for ‘the little comma in the sky’, i.e. the apostrophe.

Take this sentence from an article in a magazine in November 2013:

‘With Christmas Party’s [sic] approaching … an attractive package for company’s [sic] to have… staff party’s [sic] in comfort.’
(Parties, companies & parties)

The writer of that article was not the only one to suffer from the condition.

Four journalists on – who reported on the damage caused by the post-Christmas storm – included both St Vincent’s Hospital and St Vincents Hospital as well as parents house in their report. (parent’s or parents’)

The Irish Examiner of 28/12/2013 got in on the act also with these two basic errors: ‘Cassville High School girl’s [sic] (girls’) basketball team …’ and ‘… one of the best referee’s [sic] (referees) in the league.’

Other publications duly followed.

The Cork Independent, 09/01/2014:

‘…after the River Lee broke it’s [sic] banks.’ (its)

‘Previous Irish Open’s [sic] have attracted up to 100,000 visitors.’

R.T.E.1, Six One News: 14/01/2014:

Caption for a Report: Childrens [sic] Father (Children’s)

Sunday Independent LIVING supplement, 09/03/2014:

‘…didn’t kill her, didn’t make the gun that killed her and its [sic] certainly not making us watch.’ (it’s)

28/01/2014: Email from Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd. regarding insurance. The subject was: ‘Teachers’ Car Insurance – in a class of it’s [sic] own.’ (its)

Advertisement for Lidl in the Irish Examiner, 01/02/2014:

Ladies’ or Mens’ [sic] Ski Trousers (Men’s), 20/02/2014:

‘… the Taoiseach said … was correct to bring the document’s [sic] to the Dáil’s attention.’ (documents)

Sunday Independent, LIVING supplement, 23/02/2014:

It’s [sic] back had clearly been broken.’ (Its)