Mushy or Firm?

It’s surprising how often people who should know better misspell words that should be very important to them. Doctors often write “taunt” when they mean “taut,“ saying that a patient had a “taunt abdomen.”

Lawyers often mix up “militate” and “mitigate.”

Most amazing of all to me is the number of writers who refer to one “women.” I used to see this all the time in the writing of my female students.

Many online merchants offer “wall scones” for sale instead of “wall sconces.” One of Tom Sumner’s best illustrative cartoons is for this error, on p. 259 of Common Errors in English Usage (3rd edition).

Even more online sites offer “costumer service.”

Then there are the colleges that instruct you to turn a form “into the registrar.”

A New York construction manager recently told me that contractors often send him invoices for “lentils” instead of “lintels.”

I lived in Pullman, Washington for forty years, where they celebrate an annual “Lentil Festival.” It always annoyed me that they featured simple stews and oddities like lentil ice cream and brownies, ignoring the various world cuisines which offer a rich variety of traditional dishes made with lentils.

In South Asia lentils are dal, and are a staple—usually richly flavored. There are many varieties of dal, the least interesting of which is the brown one commonly grown in Eastern Washington, which by itself tastes rather like wet cardboard; but even it can become tasty when properly spiced.

For some great traditional dal recipes, see Sailu’s Kitchen.

But don't try to reinforce the opening over your doorway with lentils. For that you need a lintel.

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