DA Let Down on his Crossword from the 9/10th of July, 2010

A new category for a phenomenon newly discovered: the editorial mistake.

DA’s hard work has been mangled in both The Age and the SMH, and, echoing Anna Karenina, each in their own way.

8 down reads PERSONAL WEANKESS in the SMH — a delightful little pun for character flaw — that in the hands of an artless Age editor became PERSONAL WEAKNESS. I’m a Melbourne boy myself, so I was a little surprised to see what seemed to be an uncharacteristically simple DA clue. Of course, I didn’t read a DA clue, but rather a bowdlerised replica of punny extravagance.

17 across was a typical, if somewhat clunky, DA clue that was rather easy for those reading The Age — the ungrammatical article sticking out like a sore thumb in ARREST A AUDITORY DISEASE made at least part of the solution pretty obvious. SMH readers, on the other hand, must have felt quite uncomfortable trying to work out how the “corrected” version of the clue that they were presented with, ARREST AN AUDITORY DISEASE, could ever be elegantly transformed into what looked like it had to be cholera.

So for the first time that we’ve ever noticed, no one in Australia got the DA as it stood originally, and much like the scholars who compare and contrast the various editions of Shakespeare’s plays, we’ve had to reconstruct what was the master’s intentions from the sullied material at our disposal.