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More Outdated Trivia (and Incorrect Words)

I loved getting “The Bathroom Trivia Book: Nuggets of Knowledge for America’s Favorite Reading Room” from 1986. I finished reading it cover to cover and have uncovered more examples of statements that might have been facts then but no longer are (and, as a result, are using the wrong words).

Again, I looked up various online sources, including state marriage laws, the NFL rule book and Google, to find what’s changed.

For example, in 1986, the top 10 surnames in the country were, in order: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Wilson, Anderson and Taylor. Today, Smith remains No. 1, but Jones is ahead of Brown, Davis is ahead of Miller, Moore is in the top 10, Taylor is ahead of Anderson, and Anderson is 11th.

Back, then girls as young as age 12 could get legally married in Kansas, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Now, it’s 15 in Kansas. In Rhode Island, brides under 16 need consent from Family Court; and in South Carolina, it’s 14, but you need notarized parental consent.

Here are five others. Again, the 1986 “fact” is presented first, followed by today.

  1. New Mexico is the only state with two official languages. Actually, Hawaii is the only one. New Mexico’s constitution does not state an official language.
  2. Home teams must provide an NFL referee with 24 game balls. Today, it’s 24 for indoor games and 36 for outdoor games.
  3. The world’s tallest building is the Sears Tower in Chicago. First, it’s now called the Willis Tower, and it’s the 16th tallest in the world. Second, it’s no longer the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. That honor goes to the new One World Trade Center in New York. Third, the tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
  4. Three thousand people get divorced each day. Now, it’s 3,200.
  5. There are no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Today, there is one, and it’s an IMAX theater in Khobar.

Until next time! Use the right words!


December 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Yorker also got it Right

When I was a teenager, I recall seeing a commercial for the magazine The New Yorker that raved, “The New Yorker is the best magazine in the world today, possibly the best magazine of all time.” Or something like that. Regardless, it is a highly respected publication.

Wikipedia’s entry about The New Yorker says it’s known for, among many things, “its rigorous fact checking and copyediting.” Even if “copyediting” is two words.

So, imagine my surprise when a networker showed me a copy of the April 24, 2017 issue. On page 72, the sixth page of an article about a South Carolina family that has a tradition of barbecue and white supremacy, a sentence reads, “He explained that he’d got into barbecue as a challenge.”

Whoa. He’d got? Does New York have different rules regarding past participles? It’s he’d gotten.

Or is it?

I typed the sentence into an online grammar check. It came back error-free, but it also flagged it for plagiarism. Funny. It also didn’t flag copyediting as wrong.

I went to and looked up got vs. gotten. It said that gotten is correct in American and Canadian usage, but in England the past participle is usually got.

It continues, “That gotten is primarily used in North America has given rise to the mistaken belief that it is American in origin and hence new and inferior. But gotten is in fact an old form, predating the United States and Canada by several centuries.”

So, I’m right. The New Yorker is right. I can live with that.

Thanks to Richard C. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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