Monday, February 3, 2014

Klu Klux (for Ku Klux)

According to an article in the New Yorker around ten years ago, almost anything can be made funnier with a "hard C" or a "K" sound. Even if that's true, though, it's pretty hard to imagine the Ku Klux Klan being a rich vein of minable humor. (The Exalted Cyclops in the Mason-Dixon Dining Room with the rope and a burning cross? Klue, the new board game for bigots!) While searching for Klu Klux in OhioLINK, however, I came upon a record for a record called Oh! Oh! Canada, Eh? by a band known as the "Brother's-in-Law." (Brother's is a typo for another day, of course, and probably another blog as well, since search engines tend to ignore things like apostrophes.) According to the bib record, this album includes a song entitled "The K-K-Klu K-K-Klux K-K-Klan," which is clearly the work of a satirist, not a racist, although as with the notorious "N word," seeing the KKK referenced in a facetious way like that is initially rather unnerving. The Brothers-in-Law also send up the (birth control) Pill, the new Canadian (maple leaf) flag, and the automobile (in a "hymn" to Ralph Nader) on this 1970s compilation of the band's greatest hits. Obviously, that so-called Klu in the library record is a typo for Ku, but it should also give us a clue as to how common this error really is. We found 11 of these hiding in plain sight in the OhioLINK database, and 169 in WorldCat.

(Two children wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods stand on either side of Dr. Samuel Green, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, at an initiation ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia, July 24, 1948, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

1 comment:

Jim Ruwaldt said...

Stephen Jay Gould remarked in the introduction to the second edition of The Mismeasure of Man, that people were pronouncing it "mishmeasure," in anticipation of the zh sound. Another example of anticipation error, perhaps an apt one, since the book deals with racism.