Wretched English

(a collection celebrating the unlimited potential of the
English language for being unintentionally amusing)


institute Sesquiotic

Scam letter


The whole bunch (for just the latest additions, see the main Wretched English page):

Typo in a local community weekly newspaper, in the Police Blotter section:
At 3:14 a.m., a man was observed operating a vehicle in an erotic manner.
[Rosemary Tanner]

The Alberta Government announced approval for overnight stays in a particular private medical clinic. The announcement was accompanied by several PDF files, one of which was the minister's criteria for assessing these kinds of requests. The file was named
[Jon D. Brehaut]

Typo in a recipe transcription:
Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice and the sock.
[James Harbeck]

Further down in the same recipe:
Or make a mound of rice in each owl and spoon the soup around it.
[James Harbeck]

From the June 2002 issue of Vintages, the LCBO's monthly magazine of wine news and reviews:
Ch‰teau Montelena is the winery that started the California wine craze when they shocked the vinous world by winning the legendary 1976 blinding tasting in Paris.
[I'll bet they were shocked (as they groped their way to the door!). —Diana Tyndale]

From a blurb in the program for an event honouring athletes:
...his dog-eared perseverance...
[ Don't you smile at the mental image that conjures? —Anne Judd]

On the packaging for a metal odor-removing disc from Starfrit:
Efficient – economical – unusable
[Cheri Frazer]

Headline from the Globe and Mail online:
Talks cancelled after suicide bombing re-scheduled following Palestinian leader's denunciation of terror
[So, what was rescheduled? The talks? Or the suicide bombing? —Warren Harbeck]

From an ad in Time magazine:
Istanbul is a city of dozens of uncounted mysteries.
[James Harbeck]

From a box for an office appliance:
Hand shredder
[I don't plan on shredding many hands, though I think it will work well on paper when I turn the handle. —Dawn Hunter]

The nutrition information from a 120 gram package of Nong Shim Neoguri Udon:
Protein 9.42g
Fat 16.9g
Carbohydrate 78g
Sodium 2185g
Potassium 253g
[Do you suppose I should see a doctor before eating that much salt? —James Harbeck]

From a health article:
women of childbearing potential should bake reliable birth control methods
[Hmmm... I guess this would be the Martha Stewart method. —Trish Rawn]

Instructions for a baking contest:
Cover your baking with plastic wrap and indicate your name (and if it contains nuts).
[Cheri (nuts) Frazer]

Sign on an otherwise unmarked door down a corridor in a small Toronto threatre:
[Lee d'Anjou]

Headline from a CP article in the Calgary Herald:
Cop assigned
to guard PM
charged with
drug dealing
[After I wondered which PM had been charge with drug dealing, I read
the first sentence of the article:]

A Halifax RCMP officer charged with drug trafficking was headed to Ottawa to become a bodyguard for the prime minister before he was arrested, a TV news program reported Tuesday night.
[By then I knew who had been charged with drug dealing, but I had to read on to be sure no prime minister had been arrested. —Patsy Price]

Topic for a meeting of the Alberta Association for Teachers of ESL:
Enhancing Stress in the ESL Classroom.
[Steve Roney]

From a health news article:
Research has shown that at least half of the time couples have difficulty conceiving, a male component is involved.
[James Harbeck]

Headline in a Perth, Ontario, newspaper:
Perth's water continues to pass
[Sally Noonan]

A hand-written ad for a seminar at a psychology conference:
"Neurotic conflict resolution by eating disordered women."
[So far as I know this methodology has not caught on widely. —Michael Rowan]

The washing directions on the hang-tag of a scarf:
Something Separately
[I can almost envision the Korean manufacturer on a bad phone line to his cousin in the States confirming what should go on the tag: "What Separately? —M. Wlochal]

Subject line of a spam:
Attract Men with Bigger Breasts!
[Not usually what I look for in a man... —Riça Night]

Subject line of a spam advertising toner for printers:
boner supplies
[James Harbeck]

From a packet of Chinese snacks:
To Agitate Family
[Actually, in Chinese, it means that this snack will bring excitement to anybody who eats it. —Olyvia Wangsa]

From a flier for a fall fair:
You might all like to come out on Friday evening for the Variety Concert and the Crowing of the Fair Ambassador.
[Rosemary Tanner]

How "Mushrooms and toadstools" was translated in a French version of an article on food poisoning:
Champignons et excréments de crapaud.
[There seems to be a lack of clarity here as to the difference between toadstools and toad stools. —James Harbeck]

From Michael Valpy, Lunch with Tensin Palmo (Buddhist nun), Globe and Mail, Saturday, 17 August 2001:
She laughs. She has a pleasant, light, peeling laugh, perhaps like the meditiation bells of Wisdom and Emptiness she kept in her cave.
[Catherine Cragg]

From a student essay on intimacy:
Intimacy includes lots of things: trust, understanding, communication. When Intimacy is between two people who are really serious about each other, it can lead to bugger things.
[Dennis Rusinak]

A sign in a Home Depot:
Duel nozzle hose
[What a good way to relieve sibling rivalry on a hot day! On the other hand, maybe a few knights' lives could have been saved if such a thing had been available in the Middle Ages. —Sue Innes]

From an article in Fauna magazine:
They [the western banded gecko] are often observed foraging for small arthropods by walking through their habitat at night with a lantern.
[Claudette Upton]

From an online help file:
This key only activates radio buttons that are de-activated. Questions that need to be answered by activating the appropriate radio button are given multiple options (two or more). By default, one of the option radio buttons will be activated. If you would like to activate an option other than the one activated by default, move to the desired option radio button using the <TAB> key and press the <SPACEBAR>. This will activate the desired option radio button and deactivate the one activated by default. For example, when indicating the gender of the Applicant, you may want to activate the Female radio button. Since the Male radio button is activated by default, move to the Female radio button using the <TAB> key and press the <SPACEBAR>. This will activate the Female radio button and deactivate the Male radio button.
[Cheri Frazer]

A sign just west of Edmonton:
The overpass has moved to the other side of the highway, about one km west.
[...takes personification a shade further than I normally recommend —Jim Taylor]

From Canada News Wire, 20 April 2001:
Russian oil money helps British blind children and motorists.
[So that's why they drive on the left—they can't see where they're going —Laurel Hyatt]

From an ad:
Large Rear Parking.
[Colleen Anderson]

In an article about beer event marketing:
you could sin instantly.
[Tee hee —Elizabeth Cockle]

From a typescript for a textbook:
The development of urine tests for chlamydia, rather than inserting a swan into the urethra, may encourage more men to be tested.
[An alert inputter commented "ouch! changed to swab." —Gilda Mekler]

From a box for a cell-phone case bought in Tokyo:
North Ahead! for your mobile style "North Ahead" has sense "to progress forward", and his name, Maekita, has become an origin. The former north he had run mop manufacturing comapny, but it was developed somehow whether other quotations materials cannot use formula technique of own company end thought about. An impression of commodity has turned sports-line of one apparel company into... Those commodity goods produces big whirlwind to tote goods industry.
[Sarah Wight]

From a piece of spam advertising an "erotic aphrodisiac" (are there any other kinds?):
[The name of the product] is a term used to refer to Passion Devas within the "Esquimax Grimoire"; an obscure Tantric metaphysical text (Tantra being the art of carnal exploration which seeks the accomplishment of spiritual solvency via sensual and sexual alchemy).
[Very obscure, I would think. I kind of like the concept of spiritual solvency; I guess it's the opposite of moral bankruptcy. But what really got me was one of the product endorsements, which claimed that
The libido enhancement is aggressively aggressive. —Gilda Mekler

From a book club brochure:
The prices for the books and merchandise in your Club magazines will be priced in American dollars. You will be billed in Canadian dollars, at a favourable conversation rate.
[Lynda Chiotti]

A sign in a grocery store window:
Part-time boys wanted
[Karen Hunter]

A sign at a print shop commemorating a recently deceased employee:
With thanks and in memorandum
[Audrey Dorsch]

Found in a desk calendar featuring dog breeds:
A rottweiler's size alone may overwhelm and endanger a small child, no matter how well behaved it is.
[Dawn Hunter]

From a dentist's advertisement:
Whether it's our toys, our decor, our treasure chest or our kids flavoured fluorides, our young patients learn that taking care of their teeth can be fun.
[Kids flavoured fluorides? From the makers of Soylent Green, perhaps? —David Handelsman]

From a corporate memo:
business must be more competitive in an increasingly global world
[Jeff Perkins]

From an article on insect stings:
To avoid insects and bites, avoid wearing brightly coloured clothing, strong flowery perfumes, overripe fruit and clover fields.
[But I like wearing overripe fruit and clover fields! —James Harbeck]

From a teacher's guide:
Before reading this section of the chapter, discuss what it is like to grow up, both male and female, in Canada.
[When did they start teaching the kids about Hermaphrodites? —Wendy Scavuzzo]

From the Globe and Mail, June 17, 2001, page A6:
But a vote is extremely unlikely this fall, especially now that Mr. Chretien's trusted chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, will be off having knee-replacement surgery all summer.
[Will there be just one surgeon, or will they work in shifts? (this comment courtesy of my husband, Rich) —Julia Cochrane]

From a Québécois winery's Web site, describing their game farm:
After he pass betwin the woods and the meadoes,where you will see many kinds off different animals. all fenced in bigger or smaller fields.You will see some animals not too much communs in these regions, like ancient wild texas long horn that live before the new breeds, it is good to preserve there old gene for the future needs maybe. some emeus from australia, europeen dears, reas from south america, wild boars cheep breed, and further some pure breed off grate value with much wild life and the best meal, red dears, Highland coming from north Scotia with lond hair in the face and nice horns, eight pares of fantasist pheasants,lamas different ages, yacks coming from india in Hymalaya they call them cows with horse tail.
[The site is http://www.la-bauge.com/aani.htm. Naturally, one should commend them for at least trying, and thank them for the inadvertent merriment.—James Harbeck]

Some material on near-death experiences informs us that some people see:
manifestations of Jesus, Buddha or Allan, depending on one's faith.
[I thought I knew the major world religions, but who believes in Allan? —Audrey Dorsch]

From a teacher's guide:
Some student should try to duplicate the results of others — "duplicity" is an important part of the scientific process.
[Rosemary Tanner]

From a school textbook (before being edited out):
These borrowing transactions comprise Canada's unmanured debt.
[We're given no information about the manured debt, but I presume it's the part that grew so quickly. —Gilda Mekler]

Next page of the same textbook (ditto):
Treasury bills are offered in detonations ranging from $1,000 to $1 million.
[Now I understand why public debt is such an explosive topic. And they have the nerve to call those things securities! —Gilda Mekler]

In notes for teachers (before being edited out):
Students should outweigh the pros and cons.
[Gilda Mekler]

From a company's financial software suite:
Support for Single Headed Families!
[submitter's name withheld by request]

A slogan on a dentist's bill:
For Excellency in Dentistry.
[My dentist is good, but not THAT good! —Judith Johnson]

From an Australian newspaper, about the retirement of a champion racehorse:
The horse has now ceased racing and will be put to stud where it is already booked to service 15 mayors.
[Bob Park]

Found in a Grade 5 science text manuscript:
Safety Tip
DO NOT use boiling water because it could scold you.

[So, let's all be safety conscious, and we won't get yelled at! —Rosemary Tanner]

From a Web announcement for a customer service position:
SALARY: Commiserate with experience
[Sheila Wawanash]

A store-wide page made in a Wal-Mart:
I have a customer by the balls in toys who needs assistance.
[Jeff Perkins]

From Michael Valpy's column in the Globe and Mail, 14 June 2000, referring to Mehmet Ali Agca:
He was also planning to shoot the king of England, until he found out she was a queen.
[Or maybe Betty Windsor is more flexible than we knew! —Eric Mills]

From a community newsletter:
Mr Smith, a father of four, has made many forays into virgin territory.
[Brenda Skinner]

From a home improvement website:
BISQUE: The finish that refers to the unglazed areas of fixtures inside tanks of at the bottom of toilet bowl foot that are made of china.
[James Harbeck]

From a Premier Fitness brochure:
"daycare available — free on sight babysitting"

[I thought, their motto has to be "If we see your kids, we'll take care of 'em!" —David Handelsman]

In England, the "MOT" is a compulsory safety test for older cars. A garage down the street advertises:

[Jonathan Paterson]

Seen last year:
"Prolong your enjoyment of Dairyland Eggnog by freezing for six months"

[I thought that, as Canadians, we already did that! —Joanna Monro Gray]

A large sign on a door in a Royal Bank in Calgary:
Stationary Room.

[I don't think the rest of the bank was going anywhere either. —Tricia Armstrong]

A company that does income tax announces:
Fast refunds don't bring money.

[They don't? I thought that was the definition of refund. —Gilda Mekler]

From a poem:
The endless fields run endlessly

[As any kid would say, duh-uh. —Gilda Mekler]

From a notice posted on the front door of an office to let clients know that the company had moved to a different location:
...sorry for the convenience.
[Talk about taking customer service to new heights! —Jennifer Bridgman]

From a tailor's window in Vancouver:
customer made suits

[Ann Paulsen]

A trance-inducing definition from a home improvement website, nearly mathematical or musical in its repetitions:
The imperfections in timber that are generally caused during the growth of timber by high winds or imperfect conditions of growth.

[James Harbeck]

From a university student essay:
Galileo tried to explain that religion and science if interpreted properly could coencide together, however in the end he was convicted by the church of hearsay and put to death.

[Alan Yoshioka]

From Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test:
Study the following examples:

I will leave at 7:00 if I am ready.
Although I am was late, I managed to catch the train.

[And no, they didn't intend it to be an example of an ungrammatical sentence! And it's not the only error in the book! —David Handelsman]

Caption of a picture in a newsletter of some very earnest-looking women:
Newtworking at lunch on Saturday were (l to r)...

[Is that like frogmarching? —Rosemary Tanner]

Sign for a Toronto Astrologer:
Destiny Reform Specialist.
[If your destiny can be reformed, you sure don't want an amateur doing it. —Sheila Wawanash]

From a package of herbal tea:

To sleek sexual organs, recuperate the lungs, stop coughing, remove sputum, and It is ofthen used to treat cases such as lung heat, drg dough, sore throat and aphonia, ect:
*Antipyretic Natidotal, salivant and thirst quencher.
*It removes rheumatism and is diuretic, principal cure for all kinds of
carbuncle, furuncle and cutaneous abscess.
*Constant drinking will prevent and remove pimples.
*Good for too much smoking, Wine and restlessness.
*Sickness contracted through air pollution.
She She Cao (Beverage) is manufactured with fresh Herba Oldenlandia Diffusa and Scutellaria Barbata. It is processed in a progressive and scientical way, retaining its original effectiveness. Nourishing and delicious, conveniently packed. It can be taken continuously without any by-effects....
Dosage: 20g. per bag dissolves instantly in both cold or boiling water.

[Sheila Wawanash]

From the Times, 28th March 2000:
Dr. Alex Comfort, author of 'The Joy of Sex' has died, after a series of strokes.

[Keith Bostic in the BONG Bull, by way of Judyth Mermelstein]

From a recipe for a salad to serve 20:
Individually boil green beans, yellow beans, and carrots.

[My instant vision was of hundreds of small pots. My daughter suggests adding a note along the lines of "Make this recipe when it's your turn to watch the community's children on a rainy day." —Lenore d'Anjou]

Regarding the stolen Oscar statues, from the L.A. Times web site, March 2000:
They are made of Britannica alloy, a high grade of pewter, that is then electroplated with cooper, nickel, sliver and 24 carat gold.

[According to Chambers' Dictionary, Britannia metal is an alloy, mainly tin with copper, antimony, lead or zinc, or a mixture of these, similar to pewter. A cooper makes barrels. A sliver is something I prefer not to get under a finger nail. Whether Britannia metal is a high grade of pewter is a matter of opinion. At least three errors, possibly four. —David Ibbetson]

Further submissions are invited. Please send them to seamus@harbeck.ca.