Proofreader's Digest


Someone needs to be fired, even if they thought they were cooking beige pants.


Hm. It seems to be a common enough error, though. There are a gazillion Google hits for "tangine," and even on a bunch of recipe sites "tangine" takes you to the stews page, same as "tagine" does.

Maybe it's a transliteration thing--like "Chanukah," "Hanukkah," and the lot.

Yes, error. The number of Google hits something gets is no indicator of whether or not it is correct. Here's proof.

Eager crossword constructors are often tempted to use Google as a justification for bad entries that would get them out of a tight corner, but seasoned vets on a certain crossword construction forum are always quick to remind people that Google is only as good as the data it's given. If six million people type "BECUASE", that still doesn't make it correct.

The correct spelling is "TAGINE". As in, "The snowman melted tagine it was hot outside."

Even more proof that 18 million people can't spell and that google is therefore not a reliable spell-checking tool.

I regard those as straw man arguments without real bearing on the proper spelling of the dish in question. Both "because" and "accommodation" are English, and Moroccan tagine/tangine/tajine clearly is not, so the transliteration comment is germane only in the latter case.

If it were only clueless webpage authors using the term, that would be one thing. But it is a usage which appears also in print in more than one place, which must count for something. Perhaps the "n" reflects a nasal quality of the pronunciation, as rendered into north African French.

So if it were up to me, I would be inclined to spare the proofreader.

The one place in print it matters most of all is the dictionary, and Webster's lists tagine but not tangine. Note also that shows tagine in 8 dictionaries, but tangine in none.

I rest my case.

As a professional proofreader and language teacher, I come down unequivocally on the side of "Lighten up, Peter!" The argument already made that this is a foreign word just entering English, and specifically from a language that does not use our alphabet or phonetics, fully justifies different approaches to its spelling.

You have a valid argument if, and only if, you open up the booklet and every recipe in it is for "tagines". If every recipe is for "tangines" however, it's obviously an editorial decision, and far from firing the proofreader, you give him or her a pat on the back for ensuring consistency with the house style, even while disagreeing with the editorial staff and hoping they come around to your point of view with time and more exposure to the word.

I'm just happy to see Reader's Digest doing their part for multiculturalism and adding something more than just green bean casseroles to life in these United States. And never having used the word in a sentence before, I'm happy to have learned something new today. Remember, it pays to enrich your word power.

If I lightened up, I'd never have anything to post about.

I'll also note that TAGINE is not a new word entering the language-- it's been around for decades. TAJINE may be an acceptable alternate spelling, but TANGINE is not-- it's a spelling error. The "N" sound of TANGINE doesn't exist in the spoken word. Are we advocating a silent N now?

When multiple dictionaries-- including Webster's and, I'd assume, the OED-- support one spelling and NO dictionaries support another, the relative newness of the word is immaterial. Clearly a "correct" spelling (and even a viable alternate) has been established, and it's not the one Reader's Digest used.

Someone at Reader's Digest is more comfortable with tangerines than with Moroccan cooking.

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