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Awful Ethos Exercise: Know What You Write
The following is a history of the world--or an amusing facsimile of it. The sentences appeared in essays written by high school seniors and college freshmen from across the United States and Britain; Richard Lederer spent ten years collecting them in his book, Anguished English. Each sentence is also a marvel of malapropism and misinformation. Do you know more than the original writers? Can you distinguish fact from fallacy? Correct the sentences below:

(1) Ancient Egyptians wrote in hydraulics; they lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot.

(2) The pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

(3) Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led the Hebrews to Mount Cyanide, but he died before he ever reached Canada.

(4) The Greeks invented three kinds of columns: corinthian, ironic, and dorc. They also built the Apocalypse.

(5) In Greek mythology, the mother of Achilles dipped him in the River Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in The Iliad, by Homer. Homer also wrote The Oddity.

(6) Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. He died from an overdose of wedlock.

(7) Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. He was killed by his friend Brutus and a group of senators. Dying he gasped out the words, "Tee hee, Brutus."

(8) The Middle Ages came next, and King Alfred conquered the Dames. King Arthur lived in the age of shivery. King Harold mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings. Victims of the blue-bonnet plague grew boobs on their necks.

(9) In mid-evil times, most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer.

(10) The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt their value as human beings. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull.

(11) When Henry VIII ruled England, he had difficulty walking because he had an abbess on his knee.

(12) Queen Elizabeth's navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

(13) Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

(14) One of the major causes of the American Revolution was that the English put tacks in their tea.

(15) Abraham Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands. Lincoln said, "In onion there is strength." He freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation.

(16) Handel was a famous composer. He was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

(17) Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men.

(18) Louis Pasteur invented a cure for rabbis.

(19) The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by an anahist, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

The Moral of the Story: Dew Knot Trussed Yore Spell-chequer Ass Ewe Ken Sea Here! (At least not if you want strong ethos as a knowledgeable writer.)

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