In journalism there is often a confusion of the two words pour and pore. One pours liquid from a decanter — one pores over a hitherto secret document. I see this all of the time, and sometimes wish I didn’t. A contrived example: “He eagerly poured over the communique from headquarters.” This mistake only works one way; no-one writes “The bartender pored more whiskey into the sot’s fingerprint-begrimed glass.” Here’s an example from the Financial Times in a headline, no less:
Why does this mistake escape the editors and proofreaders? Possibly because the error almost makes sense — I suppose one could imagine someone “pouring” their attention, if that attention is visualized as a metaphorical liquid; a bit of a stretch, but one which leads to errors in print.
When I first contemplated writing about this burning issue, which threatens Western civilization as we know it (just kidding!), the word solecism came to mind — but the word didn’t seem quite right. I did a bit of desultory research and came across this quote which explains why that word isn’t apropos:
Samuel Johnson once wrote:
A barbarism may be in one word; a solecism must be of more.
Just some early-morning musings…