Narrative Voice in “Baa Baa Black Sheep” [Updated]

We have commented several times, over the years, on the New York Times’ corrections policy: if an error is trivial, it is corrected with alacrity. If it is important–a smear of a Republican politician, a howler by Paul Krugman–don’t hold your breath. Maybe my sense of humor is perverse, but I got a chuckle out of this gem from yesterday’s paper:

The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 1-Down, seeking the answer “Baa Baa.” The clue should have read, “Salutatory cry to a black sheep, in a nursery rhyme” — not “Black sheep’s cry, in a nursery rhyme” — because it is the unnamed speaker of the rhyme (not the sheep, of course) who says, “Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?”

Other than that, apparently, they got everything in Tuesday’s paper right.

For those who may have forgotten, this is the first verse of “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which dates at least to the 18th century:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

There were also a white sheep, a gray sheep, and so on.

UPDATE: Bill Otis writes:

Most hilarious post ever. The NYT prints a pack of lies from traitor and Putin spy Edward Snowden, and the only thing it needs to correct is about nursery rhyme sheep.

I never read Pravda, but it couldn’t possibly have been this funny.

The thing about Pravda was, it didn’t serve the state as slavishly as the New York Times.


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