Friday, April 9, 2010

Prpos* (for Purpose(s), Proposals, etc.)

Regular viewers of “The Late Late Show” will know that Scottish host Craig Ferguson is proud of his recently-obtained U.S. citizenship. In the 2009 memoir American on Purpose: the Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, he writes, with all sincerity:

I am the child of two parents and two countries .... Scotland made me what I am and America let me be it.

America gave me everything I have today. It gave me a second chance at life. A life I had previously mishandled so catastrophically. Americans taught me failure was only something you went through on the way to success, not just in the sense of career or wealth but as a person. I learned that failure is only failure, and that it can be useful, spun into a story that will make people laugh, and maybe every once in a while give a message of hope to others who might need some.

For me, becoming an American was not a geographical or even political decision. It was a philosophical and emotional one, based on a belief in reason and fairness of opportunity.

That I became a citizen of this country in January and was at a dinner with the president in March is, I think, in a small way, indicative that we are still the country we hope we are .... America is the land of the second, third, and 106th chance.

That’s a lot for any country to live up to! Fortunately, finding and correcting today’s low-probability typo won’t be nearly so arduous. A search of the OhioLink catalog uncovers 5 instances of Prpos* in English-language items, and there are an additional 5 occurrences of “à propos” in French ones.

(American flag, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

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