Someone I know sent me this recent post from LanguageHat.com:
THE LYING TIMES.
Every time I think I'm inured to the idiocies of the press, even what are allegedly its finest representatives, something comes along to get me frothing in rage again. The latest comes via Bill Poser at Language Log, who writes:
The New York times contains a brief article entitled One Pot describing the Spanish dish known variously as cocido or olla podrida literally "rotten pot" According to the dictionary of the Real Academia Española, podrida may have an admiring connotation, similar to the use of "filthy rich" in English. Curiously, instead of the correct olla podrida, the article gives the name of the dish as olla poderida, which it explains as a derivative of poder "strength", because it gives you strength.
Reader Jim Gordon wondered about this and emailed the author of the article. Her response: she and her consultants and editors were aware of the correct name and etymology but thought that some readers might be put off by the notion of rotten food, so they changed the name a little and made up a fake etymology. It seems clear that they were not trying to deceive anyone with evil intent, but I am still taken aback that a respectable newspaper would make up a fake name and etymology.
"Curiously"? "Taken aback"? I guess I admire Bill's sangfroid and charity, but I'm not going to mince words: I think this is a complete dereliction of the first duty of a newspaper, which is to tell the truth. What's next, not reporting on vote fraud or covering up a slaughter in the Congo because "some readers might be put off"? Furthermore, they're not just making it up themselves, they're putting their lie in someone else's mouth:
“Olla means pot, and the original name was olla poderida, which comes from poder, which means strength,” said Alexandra Raij, an owner of Tía Pol, the tiny Spanish restaurant on 10th Avenue in Chelsea.
I presume Ms. Raij (a Spanish equivalent of Reich, apparently) said no such thing; if I were her, I'd put the fear of a lawsuit into the paper for knowingly making her look like an ignoramus.