EXACERBATE — NOT THE SAME AS EXASPERATE – Marilyn Armstrong

Daily Word Prompt – Exacerbate – 06/18/19

A long time ago, when Garry and I still lived in Boston and both of us were working, we used to get both Boston newspapers delivered daily to our townhouse in Roxbury. I mostly scanned them and read Doonesbury, but Garry pretty much read both papers cover to cover, but always from the back to the front because the sports and entertainment were in the back. He was dedicated to the news in a professional way, but he was personally dedicated to sports and entertainment. So he started with the fun stuff and moved frontwards.

Happy kidneys

I was doing what I did for a living which was writing or editing manuals — or doing both — depending on the size of the project and how each job was defined. I was in “auto-correct” mode and often found myself unconsciously correcting errors in the newspapers. Usually, these were typos, misprints, incorrect tenses, or clumsy writing. I forgave most of it because people who write for the news — any news service be it TV, radio, or press — are under constant deadline pressure. They have to get it right and on time.

So there I was, reading the Boston Herald. Not my favorite newspaper, but it had better comics and a bigger sports section, which made Garry happy. The Boston Globe had better writers. Or, perhaps, they were encouraged to be better writers at the Globe, while the Herald prided itself on being “down to earth.”

There had been an unfortunate event. I think it happened during a police training camp for upcoming recruits. The weather was very hot and the training instructor refused to let anyone stop for a drink of water, even in nearly 100-degree heat.

One of the recruits had a kidney problem, unbeknownst to the drill sergeant and the heat and lack of water caused him to die of kidney failure. It was quite a scandal and it ultimately changed the way recruits are trained.

In the Boston Herald, they wrote: ” … and with the weather so hot, the young man’s kidneys, which were already damaged, became exasperated causing the recruit to die.”

Unhappy kidneys

I know it was a tragedy. Truly, it was. And I realized that this was probably an autocorret error. Autocorrect had decided the writer couldn’t possibly mean “exacerbated” and must have meant “exasperated.”

I had a sudden weird mental image of his kidneys throwing up their hands or whatever kidneys throw into the air and saying, “That’s it. I’ve HAD it. I’m outta here.”

The poor young man suffered from exasperated kidneys.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is except if you are writing for the news, you should probably turn off autocorrect.

7 thoughts on “EXACERBATE — NOT THE SAME AS EXASPERATE – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Autocorrect can change the meaning of a sentence to the opposite of what you intended which is why I reread everything before I publish and even then a few typos slip through especially if I am using the tablet or phone. What happened to that young man was terrible but I have to admit that the idea of exasperated kidneys is amusing. I wonder if many people even noticed though.

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  2. Oh goodness, Marilyn, that’s almost as bad as the man on TV asking his woman guest when her baby was due! Autocorrect is a nightmare, and I’ve turned mine off – hopefully permanently. This stems from when I submitted my first Latin assignment, one of the answers to the grammar questions was ‘irata’, which was correct, but unbeknownst to me, my computer had decided I meant ‘irate’, so I got it wrong. My tutor realised what had happened, so she suggested I turn the interfering function off. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. 🙂

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    • It’s not easy to turn off on a lot of machines. I think it should not be automatic unless you request it. I’m sure that’s what happened in that article because I’m positive the writer really DID know the difference. But autocorrect didn’t know. Autocorrect is stupid.

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