August 14, 2005

To stumble in their ways from the ancient paths

According to David Remnick's retelling of New Yorker lore,

Six decades ago, not long after being hired by Harold Ross as a copy editor at The New Yorker, a shy young woman, an Oberlin graduate, set to work on a manuscript by James Thurber and soon came across the word “raunchy.” She had never heard of the word and thought it was a mistake. “Raunchy” became “paunchy.” Thurber’s displeasure was such that the young woman barely escaped firing.

But Eleanor Gould Packard, who died in February, would surely have modified "parauque" to "pauraque" before it made it into print for Steve at Language Hat to catch. I expect that she would also have doubted whether the head of the Family Research Council asked that every lion tongue would be cast down.

Posted by Mark Liberman at August 14, 2005 06:11 PM