The Muttonhead Quail Movement:

"[P]ossibly the most unfortunate spell-check blunder I've ever seen," reports a Reuters editor. The error: A line in a May 14, 2007 Reuters story about Pakistan, "The opposition blames the government and the pro-government Muttonhead Quail Movement (MQM), which runs Karachi, for the violence." In reality, "MQM does not stand for Muttonhead Quail Movement, but Muttahida Quami Movement."

Thanks to Language Log for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. News flash:
  2. Facebook group:
  3. The Muttonhead Quail Movement:
Bottomfish (mail):
The prevailing spelling of "Muttahida Quami" is "Muttahida Qaumi".
11.6.2007 6:12am
Maybe that's the translation.
11.6.2007 6:51am
Evelyn M. Blaine (mail):
Kudos to Reuters for being the only major outlet to pick up on this vital story: the meteoric rise of the Muttonhead Quail Movement has been one of the most underappreciated events in Pakistani politics in the past two years.

At first the MQM were just a ragtag bunch of animal-rights activists who assembled in front of Islamabad's Faisal Mosque in the days following Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of Harry Whittington. While those in the Western world who saw the story as more than mere comic relief focused on the question of the Vice President's judgment, the MQM were horrified by the fact that the quail hunted by Cheney's party, having lived their whole lives in captivity, lacked the cognitive skills necessary to flee from the hunters. The quails' artificially induced muttonheadedness was, to these Pakistani activists, an affront to the basic principles of ethical hunting (as well as a violation of no fewer than nine Quranic injunctions).

Within a few days, the protests were drawing hundreds of quail-loving Pakistanis; within a week, thousands. Soon the movement spread to the provinces: riots were reported in Lahore and Quetta. At first the government was inclined to crack down, but when troops in Islamabad refused to fire on a group of protestors waving the movement's banner -- a stylized bird and hunter with the slogan "PROTECT THE QUAIL - IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT THEY'RE MUTTONHEADS" in English, Urdu, and Punjabi -- Musharraf knew that he had to negotiate.

Taking a tough stance for muttonhead quail and against Cheney's hunting practices angered the US, but it earned Musharraf the firm support of the MQM. By the time that Musharraf's executive orders banning canned hunts and establishing quail sanctuaries in the Hindu Kush, the MQM had become a major power broker in Pakistani politics. When the Pakistani Supreme Court agreed on 3 November to hear a petition brought by a pro-hunting group to overturn those decrees, many felt that it would only be a manner of time before the MQM forced Musharraf's hand.

Sadly, it appears that they were right.
11.6.2007 7:01am
No, they were right.

It's the Muttonhead Quail Movement.
11.6.2007 7:26am
Sounds like a prank... or something someone typed as a joke to show to a colleague but forgot to change back before it went out.
11.6.2007 7:39am
triticale (mail) (www):
Hate to think what they might tell us MILF stands for in the place of Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
11.6.2007 7:44am
Automatic Caution Door:
Sounds like a prank... or something someone typed as a joke to show to a colleague but forgot to change back before it went out.

Isn't the given explanation -- that it was a lousy software-spellcheck "correction" -- more believable?
11.6.2007 8:46am
markm (mail):
I could believe that if the error wasn't so ... appropriate.
11.6.2007 9:18am
bittern (mail):
Eh, it's just easier to remember. I'd call it a keeper.
11.6.2007 9:38am
beware (mail):
These are the same people who believe that the muppet Bert (of Bert and Ernie fame) has joined the forces of Osama bin Laden.

No joke:
11.6.2007 9:38am
If you run "Muttahida Quami" through the Microsoft Word or Microsoft Outlook spell-checker, the first suggested changes are "Muttonhead" and "Quail."
11.6.2007 10:01am
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I invite everyone to join the Muttonhead Quail Movement group on Facebook.
11.6.2007 10:20am
What? No "Muttonhead Quayle" jokes?

Then let me be the first: Dan Qayle is so stupid that if he says something, it's stupid. (I think that was one of Letterman's.)
11.6.2007 10:26am
ak47pundit (www):
I can hear the movement's cheer now:

Ahmed, Mohamed, Perez, Wallam, We're the Islamists that eat no lamb!

Faissal, Hussein, Hassan, Jamail, We're the Jihadis that eat no quail!

Yay Muttonhead Quail!
11.6.2007 10:37am
JosephSlater (mail):
Excellent thread. And Beware, I always found Bert's association with OBL odd, given that Bert and Ernie are clearly gay.
11.6.2007 10:38am
NickM (mail) (www):
Eye sea.

11.6.2007 11:59am
I'm starting to wonder what it is that editors actually do.
11.6.2007 12:14pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
tsotha: The spellcheck and accept-all buttons don't press themselves!
11.6.2007 12:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
More signs of Bill Gates' tyranny -- could MS Word trigger global thermonuclear war? Turn off autocorrect, immediately.
11.6.2007 1:15pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
A California newspaper once had an overdose of PC and reported that the city budget wsa $x in the African-American. I guess that's the auto-text feature not the spell checker.
11.6.2007 1:18pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Similarly, I once heard a story (don't know if it's true) about a newspaper talking about the "Enola Homosexual" bombing mission.
11.6.2007 1:37pm
JosephSlater (mail):
When I was a TA for a history class I read a student paper that, in discussing the War of 1812, repeatedly referred to the British policy of "Impressionism" re U.S. sailors.
11.6.2007 1:43pm
One cable news network (I think CNN) commentator was doing a report on the rioting in the French ghettos, and called the rioters "African-American." Political correctness trumps factual correctness apparently.
11.6.2007 2:17pm
dejapooh (mail):
I was teaching a Middle School class basic computer skills in South Central Los Angeles, and one of my students wanted to grow up to be a member of "The Chicano Bulls."

Funny thing was, he was far more likely to be a Chicano bull than a Chicago bull. The kid was 13 years old, about 4'10, 80 pounds.
11.6.2007 2:18pm
Our email spellchecker at work always suggests "Brilliant" when it encounters my last name.

It must have an advanced AI algorithim.
11.6.2007 4:53pm
Kim Scarborough (mail) (www):
Andrew J. Lazarus: See also here.
11.6.2007 4:59pm
ChrisPer (mail):
Seriously, this should be a blow in the war on terrorism. If the world media mis-spelt and derided the terrorists names, ideology and penis size there would be a lot less copycat recruitment for terrorist acts.

This 'mistake' is what we could have lots of, if the media were working for peace.
11.6.2007 6:53pm
"I'm starting to wonder what it is that editors actually do."

At Reuters, they change all uses of "terrorist" to "freedom fighter."
11.6.2007 11:34pm
"Muttonhead Quail" sounds like the name of one of those obscure 1840s US political parties. Probably a regional one strong in the midwest and along the Mississippi River, opposing the political domination of the Atlantic Coast.
11.7.2007 10:42am
Rich B. (mail):
I had a client once whose name would also suggest "Porkpie" when I ran an e-mail to her through the spell-checker. I spent months in constant fear that I would accidentally hit the wrong button when sending her an e-mail.
11.7.2007 1:35pm
This is why you learn how to gorram well spell right without using a computer.
11.7.2007 2:59pm