Departing wisdom

*[click to enlarge]

irish times headline typo - Wayne Rooney departs [imparts] wisdom to youth


It took me a moment to figure out this headline in today’s Irish Times. I wondered if it might be a novel or obscure sense of depart in sports journalism that had escaped my notice to date, before realising it was probably supposed to be impart. The article supports this analysis.

To impart is to pass on or transmit, to communicate or disclose, to bestow. One often imparts wisdom. To depart is to leave: a train departs a station. Depart from can mean deviate from (a normal or recommended course of action): the headline departs from intelligibility.

John McIntyre, in The Old Editor Says, warns that errors lurk in the big type and imparts the following wisdom: “Always give the big type a second or third look before publication.” Be on guard, too, for departing wisdom when parting wisdom is meant.

Google returns a few examples of “departs wisdom”, each seemingly intended to mean imparts wisdom, but none so prominent as this. I expect it will crop up again sooner or later.

[Hat-tip to Ultan Cronin for the link. For more like this, see my archive of posts about headlines.]

14 Responses to Departing wisdom

  1. catteau says:

    Hmm, perhaps in Ireland the train “departs the station.” In North America, it would depart “from the station!” It would leave the station, but depart FROM the station, for sure.

  2. Earl says:

    I’m relieved you’re not departing, Stan. We need the wisdom you impart.

  3. Old Gobbo says:

    I agree with Catteau (and the 1989 OED, sense 6 of the verb): ‘depart’ is nowadays generally intransitive – though older admired usages would include ‘depart this life’ for instance. But I also agree with Earl, and would ask you not to do any such thing right now.

    Where it comes a little unstuck is that the now obsolete senses mostly deal with dividing into parts,or even (sense 2) to share out, which Mr Rooney might well have wished to do – but is that a sense current in ireland ? (last OED quotation 17C). Of course it may simply be that the headline writer meant to write ‘departs from’ but was overruled on grounds of space.

  4. astraya says:

    @catteau: Google Ngrams shows that usage in American English is mixed: ‘depart from the station’ is the number one choice, but has only recently overtaken ‘depart the station’. Also, ‘-ed the station’ and ‘-ing the station’ are more common than the equivalents with ‘from’. On the other hand, in British English, there are no results at all for any of the forms without ‘from’. Ngrams doesn’t allow searching for Irish English.

  5. Stan says:

    Joy: It can be either, I think. On another day I might have written departs from the station, but today I didn’t.

    Earl, that’s kind of you to say. I have no immediate plans to stop blogging, though it’s sometimes hard to find the time.

    Old Gobbo: Thank you. I don’t think the headline writer meant “departs from”, since this doesn’t really tally with the story, which is more about Rooney giving advice based on his experience:

    Wayne Rooney has talked to the younger members of the England squad to warn them about the atmosphere at Celtic Park . . . . “I’ve spoken to a few of the younger players to make sure they are ready for the start of the game . . .”

    The ‘divide’ senses of depart are not current in Ireland, to my knowledge. If I get a chance later I’ll run corpus searches to get a better sense of the word’s contemporary transitive vs. intransitive use.

    David: Other trends can be seen by varying the phrase; e.g., departed the house and departed the building are both climbing quite steeply compared with their departed from equivalents. I don’t know how the two constructions’ frequencies compare in Irish English, but the from-less version isn’t rare: a search for “departed the” on returns a couple of hits in as many weeks (“departed the stadium”, “departed the panel”).

  6. wisewebwoman says:

    Sorry to be scant in my blog reading Stan, back on board now, I think. One never knows. Uncertainty is ruling my stars at the moment.

    I too, am taken a little aback at some headlines none of which are coming to mind at the moment.

    However I remember a few song titles (from one of your previous posts) on mondegreens.

    “Almost Paradise” from something I think by the BeeGees in my family became “All those parasites”. We thought the song was punitive in intent and were completely baffled when our brain cells had to adjust to the correction – years later.


  7. laumerritt says:

    Just as a side note, in Spanish “departir” means “to take part of”, so you could say “Wayne Rooney departió de la fiesta con su club/W.R. took part of the party with his club”, while “to depart” will be “partir”. “Wayne Rooney partió de la fiesta aún más sabio/ W.R. departed from the party even wiser”.

  8. Stan says:

    WWW: Headlines can be full of surprises. The constraints of the form and their writers’ creativity combine to make novelty, even if it’s of the head-scratching variety. I love the Bee Gees mondegreen!

    Laura, Joy: Interesting. I didn’t know the Spanish use. Depart meaning “take part in” (not of, by the way) is a little similar to an obsolete sense in English, recorded in the OED as: “to share, partake (with a person in a thing)”.

  9. Funny the way languages evolve. “Departir” in Spanish means to talk, but also to teach, to explain…

  10. Jackie says:

    Well, I guess such bloopers can be considered ‘global citizens!’ Yikes!

  11. Warsaw Will says:

    @catteau and astraya – just to add re: the ngram for American books, the ‘from’-less variants ‘departed the station’ and ‘departing the station’ show ahead of versions with ‘from’, but, first, the numbers are very low, and so not necessarily representative,and second, that this phenomenon is relatively recent – from around 1970.

    I too (BrE) was surprised at the ‘departs the station’, so I was somewhat taken aback to see the actual verifiable counts at Google Books (not Ngram – the whole collection):

    departs from the station – 10, departs the station – 30
    departing from the station – 21, departing the station – 40
    departed from the station – 24, departed the station – 51

    • Stan says:

      Thanks for looking further into this, Will. It seems there may be a trend towards the from-less constructions in BrE. I’m not sure where or when I picked it up.

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