Saturday, April 10, 2021

How’s that again?

Today I'm going to tell you something I learned during the pandemic that you may have already known and I probably should have known but didn't have a clue about.

Before I do that, however, I ask that you not criticize (British, criticise) me for having ended a sentence with a preposition. Someone has said that a person who criticizes another person for ending a sentence with a preposition doesn't know what language is all about and doesn't know what prepositions are for. To the stubbornly pedantic, I quote Winston Churchill, who, when he was taken to task for ending a sentence with a preposition, said, "That is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."

What I learned during the pandemic that you may have already known but about which I didn't have a clue is this: I thought that people wore masks to protect themselves from others. Nay, not so (as the angel said to Abou ben Adhem). When a person wears a mask, I learned, the person protected is the other person, not the mask-wearer. It is apparently what you breathe out, not what you breathe in -- what you exhale, not what you inhale -- that the medical community fears.

It is a concept I struggle to understand. It seems counter-intuitive. Maybe I am just thick of skull.

Don't answer that.

Turning from that topic, let us consider closed captioning.

Although it is a great invention and technological advance that helps many, the shortcomings and foibles of closed captioning can be downright amusing. Here are some examples of nearly-but-not-quite-accurate transcriptions that Juanita Hughes, a local historian and retired head of the Woodstock Public Library, saw on Atlanta newscasts and weather reports and shared in a recent newspaper column entitled "Live closed captioning often a source of humor":

  • riots and undressed (riots and unrest)
  • The Cab County (DeKalb County)
  • Calm County (Cobb County)
  • Alfredo Highway (Alpharetta Highway)
  • police in pursuit of lawbreakers can no longer taste (chase) them
  • Wait Green Road (Wade Green Road)
  • windshield factors (wind chill factors)
  • boaters went to the polls today (voters)
  • a surgeon cases (a surge in cases)
  • Madonna vaccine (Moderna)
  • source of female (source of email)
  • Tiger's accident could have caused (cost) him his life

In addition to the list above, here are two more that I saw with my own eyes while viewing our church's Sunday morning worship service via live streaming before we received our vaccinations:

Among God's attributes are His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His ammunitions (omniscience).

Even the benediction was not immune:

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up His continents (countenance) upon you, and give you peace.

P.S. -- Today, April 10th, would have been my mother's 111th birthday. Some days, though I'm a mere 80, I know how 111 would feel. I'm thankful that today is not one of them.


  1. I am so glad the police in pursuit can no longer taste them. Yes, I have seen some funny closed captions too. Winston Churchill is one of my heroes, and I am reading many biographies about him. I chuckle each time I read his comment on prepositions "something up with which I will not put."

  2. Terra, I am conflicted about encountering caption bloopers. They are very funny but also very distracting. Did you know that Winston Churchill’s mother was American? It’s true!

  3. I prefer to believe that wearing the mask protects others AND me. It seems to male sense. By the way I am fully vaccinated and I still use my mask.

  4. Emma, it does make sense. I hope it is true.

  5. I think wearing a mask protects us and others and I think in recent months they have said that. I do remember in the early days of the pandemic the professionals did say you wear a mask to protect others.

    1. Bonnie, did the experts change their opinions or did the people in charge of things change experts?

  6. On the subjects of masks whist I understand that the principal purpose of an 'ordinary' mask is to protect others (hence the reason a surgeon wears a surgical mask which is what most of us are wearing) if one wants to protect ones self as well one wears a Type IIR and FFP2 mask. Those are the sort worn on a Covid-19 ward or the sort worn by carpenters, engineers and anyone else who may be inhaling fine dust without one. They are the sort I had at the start of the epidemic because I used them when I was using my woodworking machinery.

    Predictive text/spillchuckers have a lot for which to answer. Having said that we have become sloppy (I have become sloppy) and tend to press 'send' before I check what has appeared on the page in front of me.

    1. Graham, so what I hear you saying is some masks do and some masks don't, you have to be a connoisseur of masks to know the truth.

      Also, I think predictive text affects things that are being written, not things that are being spoken. What is needed to achieve more accurate closed captioning are advances in speech recognition software, in my opinion.

  7. TV clothes captioning is also a laugh riot.


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