Monday, May 23, 2005

Terms of Art

Every area of life has its special words. If you're going to cover one of them for a newspaper it's good to know those terms of art. This paragraph from The Weekly Standard showed up in my mailbox the other day (thanks, Judith):

We missed this at the time, but there was a classic mistranscription in the International Herald Tribune's coverage of Pope John Paul II's funeral last month: "His folded hands intertwined with a rosary, the body of Pope John Paul II was laid out inside the papal palace on Sunday as the balance of power in the Roman Catholic Church began its shift to the unnamed man who will soon replace him... Tucked under his left arm was the silver staff, called the crow's ear, that he had carried in public." As the correction sheepishly noted: We "used an incorrect term to describe the silver staff of Pope John Paul II. It is a crosier."

Or perhaps it's just one of the hazards of phoning in your copy. (Is that still done? Or did it fade away with Ben Hecht and "His Girl Friday"?)