From Restraining The Deranged To Killing Giant Octopuses

No, I’ve lost neither my mind nor my morals! I’ve recently blogged about common English errors on blogs and I was making some additions. I was looking at strait, straits and straight and wanted a picture of a stretch of water to go with strait. Off to Wikipedia and a look at the first strait that came to mind – the Cook Strait, flowing between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, connecting the Tasman Sea with the South Pacific.

I’m not into show tunes but I do love myths and legends so I followed up on the Maori history. They believe Cook Strait was discovered just over a thousand years ago by Kupe, a great chief of Hawaiki and great navigator. He’d tried to bump off his cousin, kidnapped the cousin’s wife and set sail. Along the way he sailed through the Cook Strait when chasing a giant octopus named Te Wheke-a-Muturangi. Eventually Kupe killed it by chopping off its arms with an adze. James Cook in 1770 was a mere parvenu and a bit boring after attempted murder, adultery and killing a god’s pet octopus!

Restraining the deranged? Some of you will be ahead of me here – straitjackets. I was disappointed to learn that “straightjacket” is acceptable – it just doesn’t look right. Consolation came with the finding that the plural word “straits”, in the watery sense, is one of the few English plurals which take a singular article. A bit anorakky of me, I admit, but I do love words and their quirks and peculiarities.

So, a little bit of free-ranging word association and a good half hour filled with things that weren’t the things I should have been doing. And the next time Microsoft Project seems a little uninviting there’s the further adventures of Kupe to look out for.


All of you bloggers and lovers of correct English, please have a look at Common English Errors and let me know if I’ve included all you think should be there. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. So are corrections but I’m hoping there won’t be many of those!

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