Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mistakes Were Made

I'm a lifelong Dairy Queen fan, and this won't stop me.  But still.

I was out of town this week, and while waiting for my order to be filled, I idly looked at this historical display.  I've added a red frame around the part that caught my eye.

I'm pretty sure that what they meant in that first item was "clamor," not "clamber."  Oh, I suppose it's possible they meant that customers were crawling awkwardly over each other to get some of that DQ goodness, but I doubt it.  Ah well, mistakes like this do happen.  Maybe no one but me has even noticed it.

But then today, back in Bloomington, I was browsing idly in the New Arrivals section when I noticed a slim novel called In the Company of Educated Men, by Leonce Gaiter, published in 2014 by Astor+Blue Editions.  It's a road-trip / crime novel or something.  I flipped through the pages to see how the writing looked, and for some reason this leapt out at me near the bottom of page 66:
She clamored into the back.
Hm.  I just realized while writing this post that I'd always assumed that "clamber" was pronounced clam/ber.  My mother insisted, when she was teaching me read fifty years ago, that I sound out words I didn't know.  I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say "clamber" aloud, though; I just assumed it sounded like it looked.  I looked again at the Webster's entry on the chance that clamber is not pronounced the way it looks to me.  And sure enough, while my pronunciation is the first one listed, there's a second one with a silent b.  That means it's not the preferred or "standard" pronunciation, but it's common enough to be noted by Merriam-Webster.  So the confusion of spellings I stumbled on this week is understandable.  Clamor and clamber can be pronounced the same.

But it still seems odd that the marketing department of an international fast-food chain would confuse the spellings, and about as odd that a small literary press would do it.  Has anyone else encountered this?