Major newspapers baffled by plurals

If you were paying attention in elementary school English class, you might remember how plurals are formed. Generally, you simply add an “s,” though if the word already ends in “s,” “x,” “ch,” or “sh,” you add “es.” The same rules apply to proper names, too, as in the common expression “keeping up with the Joneses (i.e., members of the Jones family)” They are not hard rules to remember.

And yet whenever the Wayans brothers do something, the world is flooded with mutations of their name just as horrific as the rancid comedies the Wayanses produce. (Their last name is Wayans, not Wayan. Damon is a Wayans. There are many other Wayanses. This is the Wayanses’ latest movie.) When “Dance Flick” opened Friday, I figured the blogs would be the worst offenders, since blogs tend not to have copy editors. But while some onliners did screw it up, what amazed me was how many major newspapers — which DO have full-time copy editors on staff — botched it.

None of the following examples are correct by certain style guidelines, or according to certain local customs. All of them are simply wrong.

  • USA Today: “Like the Wayans’ other productions…”
  • The Los Angeles Times: “After the Wayans’ deadly funny ‘Scary Movie’ back in 2000…” “The Wayans had nothing to do with those…”
  • The Orlando Sentinel: “All the Wayans in the world…” “Keenen Ivory Wayans and the least funny of the gang, Shawn Wayans, were lead Wayans’ in the all-Wayans script”
  • Newsday: “The Wayans keep mining the same trash heap…”
  • Variety: “What the Wayans fail to do…”
  • The Toronto Star: “Too many Wayans spoils the broth…” “One departs from seeing this flick with the fervent hope that it is the Wayans’s last dance movie.”

[UPDATE: See the follow-up post for more scandalous details!]