Saturday, February 06, 2010

Pericopes and periscopes

When I am reading manuscripts or editing or examining, one of my favourite typos is "periscopes" for "pericopes". The word pericope is a favourite among Biblical scholars, for a unit of text, a passage, especially in the Gospels, especially in contexts connected with form-criticism. Even as I type this entry, "pericopes" is getting underlined in red as a spelling error, while "periscopes" is not. Since the advent of spell-checkers over the last generation or so, I suspect that this typo has become much more common. The eye misses the extra "s" and it is not, of course, picked up by the spell-checker. The other day I glanced at my hand-out in class and saw the word "periscopes" there where it should have been pericopes, so I had fallen prey to the same error. Perhaps this is a reason to stick to the slightly affected plural "pericopae"?

7 comments:

Ken Brown said...

The worst is that MS word automatically "corrects" pericope(s) to periscope(s) unless you tell it not to, so even if you type it correctly, it will turn out wrong.

Michael J. Gorman said...

I've seen this many times over the years. Another fun one I've seen twice is the spell-checker substituting "parakeet" for "paraclete."

Sean Winter said...

Hi Mark
Following on, there was a famous moment in a Baptist debate on episcopacy when one faithful soul, stod up and confessed bafflement with the whole debate on the basis that "I know what a stethescope is, and I know what a periscope does, but for the life of me I have no idea what an episcope is for'.

Mark Goodacre said...

Excellent!

A said...

Hi Mark,

If you’re using MS Word, I'm sure that you know that you can add pericope to your personal dictionary by right-clicking on the word and selecting Add To Dictionary. However, you may not know that you can exclude a word that Word knows how to spell. Thus, you can add “periscope” to an excluded word dictionary so that it will always be marked as misspelled, thus making it much less likely that you’ll mistakenly release a document with the wrong word. If/when you get your nautical engineering degree, you can always remove periscope from your exclusion dictionary.

With Word, this isn’t as simple as it should be. Detailed instructions on how to create an exclusion dictionary can be found here:

http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/General/ExcludeWordFromDic.htm.

If you’re using another word processor app, you can always check to see if it has a similar feature.

Rich Griese said...

Ken Brown said...

The worst is that MS word automatically "corrects" pericope(s) to periscope(s) unless you tell it not to...

/// Hey Ken, that is because Microsoft is the debil, or the beast mentioned in revelation. The Lord is pleased when you by a Mac.

Cheers!
RichGriese.NET

Roger Pearse said...

Wouldn't it be better to use an English word instead? Jargon should always be avoided, as it becomes first a badge and then a tool for exclusion of the uninitiated.