Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Steve Evans: Language Usage 21-22 and Neologism 9

Headline in the Johnson City Press, Tuesday July 21, 2009, page 10B:

News of the Wierd: 100 grams, 1/10 gram, tomayto, tomahto (21)

This headline is interesting from a couple of perspectives. First, it is poking fun at the justice system for a typo (a neologism for typographical error, entry 9), allowing someone to escape sentencing (the 100 grams vs. 1/10 gram). However, it also brings in the pronunciation of tomato issue for a laugh, because, here, the semantics make a difference!, along with phonetical spellings.

In part, the artcle reads: Oops! Calvin Wells beat a certain, mandatory 10-year prison term for the felony possession of cocaine [coke, a shortened form of the word, is a neologism, 9] because the verdict form signed by the jury contained a typographical error. Wells had 100 grams, but the verdict form certified "ten one hundreds (100) grams," which an Ohio appeals court ruled in June could have meant "10/100th grams," which would be a misdemeanor whose maximum time Wells had already served. (22)

No comments: