Rantings of a sub-editor

February 26, 2010

Groundhog Day

Filed under: Groundhog Day,word choice — substuff @ 9:46 am
Tags: ,

These are treacherous times.

Our deputy features editor has just revealed that he yesterday inserted a clanger into his copy on purpose to see if I would pick it up and blog about it. A cheeky little trick to pull on a press day, I say.

The offending sentence was:

It felt like groundhog day all over again

I changed it to

It felt like Groundhog Day

And went on my merry way.

However, since he revealed his treachery this morning, I have started to ask myself whether I was right to change it. He meant to convey a feeling of something happening all over again, having already been repeated several times before. However… the actual (y’know, actual) Groundhog Day does not carry this meaning.

The OED says:

Groundhog Day:
2 February, when the groundhog is said to come out of its hole at the end of hibernation. If the animal sees its shadow – ie if the weather is sunny – it is said to portend six weeks more of winter weather.

The film of the same name, however, was about a TV weatherman who wakes up to the same day over and over again (can’t imagine how that would feel) – and it was clearly to this meaning that my dear colleague was referring.

So… was I right to change it? Has the movie meaning superseded the dictionary meaning? Or did I effectively change his comment so that it likened a sustainability forum to a woodchuck coming out of its hole? Hmm…


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