September 13, 2004

Another ex-mistake

Seeing Cornell students actually use whom as James Thurber jokingly recommended, just to add a "note of dignity or austerity" to their flag desecration, Geoff Pullum recently concluded that we should "kiss whom goodbye".

Reading in Forbes today that

"The Beatles' company, Apple Corps., is involved in a legal battle with Jobs' Apple Computer, claiming the hardware manufacturer is in breach of a 1991 agreement that that forbids it from using the trademark for any application "whose principle content is music." The two companies have been involved in a number of court battles over the years involving the use of the Apple trademark."

the emphasized misspelling similarly reminded me that the principle/principal distinction is now orthographic roadkill.

I guess it's possible that the legal agreement between Apple Corps and Apple Computer actually spells the adjective as "principle"? I doubt it, but if so, this would give Jobs and Co. a way out. As one of the half-dozen people now living who still mostly remembers the distinction without looking it up, I'll be happy to act as an expert witness, if asked.

Of course, the same reporter and editor also describe Apple Computer as a "hardware manufacturer", so the usual rule in such cases applies: when in doubt, blame the journalist.


Posted by Mark Liberman at September 13, 2004 04:10 PM