Monday, January 21, 2008

Revelan*, Releven* (for Relevance, etc.)

Revelan* is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list with 33 hits in OhioLINK. Here we have an example, not of misspelling or mispronunciation, but rather a bit of confusion owing to the arrangement of letters on the keyboard. It's much easier to type R-E-V-E before switching hands to type the L than it is to type R-E with the left hand, then L with the right, and then back again to the left for the E and the V. This is often the case with typos. We may also be influenced by the number of words in the dictionary containing similar strings of letters. A sort of automatic reflex takes over, temporarily suppressing one's awareness of how a particular word should be written. Releven*, on the other hand, which retrieves 21 records in OhioLINK, looks more like a spelling error. But let's not revel too much in the reasons for these typos. Just hurry up and correct them so your catalog records won't be irrelevant. (Portrait by Elsa Dorfman of French philosopher Jean-Fran├žois Revel, whose birthday was on Saturday, and his son Matthieu Ricard, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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