First: I yield to no man in my respect and affection for my students at Boston University.
Second: During my five years as a mass communication professor at BU, I’ve noticed a grammatical phenomenon in the writing of said students.
Very often in their papers, students use the wrong word – but it rhymes with the right word.
astutely aware for acutely aware
consul for counsel
conscious for conscience
dribble for drivel
reticule for ridicule (despite what you’re thinking, reticule is actually a word. It means “a woman’s drawstring handbag”)
menial for minimal
safety belt for safety net
captain for caption (couldn’t figure out if that was just a typo until -oops – it appeared for a second time)
My theory: the students have never read these words and phrases. They’ve only heard them.
And then their ears fail them.