Friday, October 31, 2008

Appp* (for App*)

Tonight's the night that children dress up as witches and goblins and ghosts (or whatever they're being scared by these days) and attempt to fill their trick-or-treat sacks with candy. People used to toss in the occasional apple as well, until an urban myth peaking in the 1980s made that fruit a forbidden one. The story floating around was that razor blades, pins, and other sharp objects were showing up inside of apples. This apparently never, or rarely, happened (although there are accounts of hoaxes by kids themselves), but such cautionary tales, like vampires, die hard. Although we found only one Appple and one Appple's in OhioLINK's bag of tricks, we discovered 45 cases of the more inclusive Appp*. Most were for words like applications, appropriations, apparatus, and so on, along with a variety of personal names and acronyms.

(Red Delicious from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Insult* + Insula* (for Insult* or Insula*)

In an email circulated to library staff the other day, a secretary wrote: "I think the volunteers really enjoyed the recognition and the gift we presented to them. (This year it was a small insulted lunch bag.)" Oh well, as long as only the bags were insulted and not the volunteers. A search in OhioLINK on Insult* and Insula* brings up four records: one with an "[i.e.]," meaning that the error was on the piece itself, one that didn't involve a typo at all, and two that did, which makes it "low probability" on the Ballard list (at least insofar as that particular search would indicate). Winter is fast approaching, heating costs are escalating, and people will sometimes give you the cold shoulder. Insulate yourself against insults, and know your enemies as well as your friends.

(Picture from Wikimedia Commons with the caption: "Goose tower at Vordinborg, Zealand, Denmark. Only remaining complete part of Vordinburg castle, some 600 years old. Tower is named for the golden goose, according to legend placed on the roof by King Valdemar, intended as an insult to his German enemies.")

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cacoa, Chocalate*, etc. (for Cacao, Chocolate)

Better late than never ... or perhaps I should say: bitter, latte, then savor. Yesterday was National Chocolate Day, which I celebrated by taking two of the last remaining Peruvian pastillas brought in by my coworker who had recently returned from a trip to his homeland. Cacoa was found twice in OhioLINK and Cocao once. There were two cases of Chocalate* and one of Chocolote* there as well. You might also turn up a few typos for Choclate*—but of the 26 hits received, most of them seemed to be for the correctly spelled contraction choc'late. (Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.)

("Milk chocolate ganache cooked with our favorite fair trade organic espresso, dipped in milk chocolate, rolled in ground chocolate" from The Chocolate Gecko in Albany, New York.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catagog* (for Catalog, etc.)

I thought we had all our bases categorically covered with the blog entry from 2007, but I was agog (full of intense interest or excitement) at finding three records containing Catagog* in OhioLINK the other day. More interesting than that, however, was learning the word catagogic, which appeared in one of those records. This is a psychological term of art, as best I can tell, meaning the opposite of anagogic or "elevating." One source defined it as "gutterward." Sounds like where an excitable kitten might be headed if it doesn't watch out.

(Little cat agog from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coaltion*, Coaliton* (for Coalition*)

The candidates have been talking a lot about "clean coal" technology lately, but to most of us, coal would appear to be anything but clean. And, on top of being dirty, it also has the taint of punishment: oranges in your Christmas stocking if you've been good all year, but lumps of coal if you've been bad. As pressure is gradually applied to "dead biotic matter," coal is transformed from peat to lignite, bituminous coal to anthracite, and finally graphite, which as every schoolgirl knows, is what pencils are made of. We dug up five samples of Coaltion* in OhioLINK and three of Coaliton*.

(Coal "ovoids" from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chidhood (for Childhood)

"It's never too late to have a happy childhood" according to Tom Robbins. Chidhood is found in the 'B,' or high probability, section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it was present in at least 16 but no more than 100 records in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Curiously, there were only 2 Chidhoods in OhioLINK when we checked today. The original listing had the error with a truncation, but the count held at two, even with the asterisk thrown in. In WorldCat, there are just over 50 hits, making it look more like a moderate probability candidate. We found 23 hits for this in COPAC, the major union catalog for British university libraries. There is even one hit for the typo in the National Library of Australia - not much of a showing but proof that the sun never sets on this typo.

Today's photo shows the statue of Peter Pan at Kensington Gardens in London. This was taken more than 30 years ago, so the children here are presumably nearing their 40th birthdays. The original can be found at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/33784385

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ralroad (for Railroad)

RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.”
This is according to Ambrose Bierce in the Devil's Dictionary. Ralroad can be found at
http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/Sectione.html , which is the section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases with the lowest probability errors. They were found only once in OhioLINK at the time of their discovery. Indeed, that same record is still in OhioLINK, referring to the Hartford Railroad Company. There is a very modest hit count of 5000 for Ralroad in Google.

Today's photo shows the Essex Steam Train in Eastern Connecticut that gives a 90-minute ride through fall foliage. The original can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/104482610

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pardise (for Paradise)

"Paradise is exactly like where you are right now... only much, much better,” according to Laurie Anderson. Proust said that every paradise is a paradise lost. Pardise exhibits the classic pattern of dropping a vowel in a long word. Like Kathy Griffin, it is on the D list, meaning that it was found between 2 and 7 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. There were more than 30 hits in WorldCat today, including the title "Pardise Palace." We checked Amazon to confirm that the cataloger did misrepresent the first word of the title. For obvious reasons, that is the worst kind of typo to inhabit an online catalog.
Its presence in catalogs represents a team effort with sloppy typing and sloppy proofreading.

Everyone has their own paradise lost. I lived at Clark Air Base in the Philippines in the late 1950's and this was often cited as a paradise for the children of officers - less so for the children of enlisted men. My own choice would be the island of Maui, so that is today's photograph. The original can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/77926706

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Phoenecian (for Phoenician)


"I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix." This geographic stretch came from America's 44th Vice President, Dan Quayle. Actually, I want to be fair to Mr. Quayle, speaking as someone who grew up in Phoenix and has lived in exile on the East Coast since 1990. We spent every possible vacation day in California, so there are close ties here. Phoenician can refer to an ancient Mediterranean people, current residents of central Arizona, or a glamorous resort in Scottsdale built by Charles Keating in the 1980's. It is found in the 'C,' or moderate probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/typoscomplete.html, meaning that the error occurred between 8 and 15 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. The root cause of this typo is simply confusion about how the word is spelled.
It even looked right to me, and I should have known better.

Today's photo shows Camelback Mountain and the Papago Buttes from the air. The original can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/phoenix





Monday, October 20, 2008

Phladelphia (for Philadelphia)

"I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday," according to W.C. Fields in his second best-known quote about Philadelphia. We also must mention Frank Rizzo's classic explanation: "The streets are safe in Philadelphia, it's only the people that make them unsafe." With the Phillies making a rare appearance at the World Series we were interested in revisiting a city that has been a staple for typo hunters. Phladelphia is found on the Moderate Probability list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases at http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/typoscomplete.html -

meaning that the error was found between 8 and 15 times in OHIOLINK at the time of its discovery. Large words missing the letter 'i' are the number one feature of our lists, but this is unusual because the missing letter is so close to the beginning. Even the catalog at Penn State had 4 of these - obviously because they own so many titles containing the name Philadelphia. Worldcat shows 42 Phladelphias this morning. If you look at these records you will see that the name is correctly spelled many times in the record which helps to make the typo less visible.
Today's photo shows a night scene in Philadelphia, looking towards City Hall. It was taken earlier this year at the ALA Midwinter meeting. The original can be seen at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Psychanal* (for Psychoanalytic, etc.)

Marshall Brickman's "The Analytic Napkin" (published in The New Yorker in 1975) is a humorous and fanciful account of a rather anal page in psychiatric history. In it Freud is reported to have complained to his mentor: "... how can I keep the back of the patient's chair from becoming so soiled [ganz geschmutzig]? They come in, they put their heads back—one week and already my upholstery has a spot the size of a Sacher Torte." This sticky problem equally occupied the minds of his fellow ├╝ber-analysts: Jung, Adler, Ferenczi, Klein, Liebner, and "the purist Holtz ... who in 1935 criticized Freud for not being Freudian enough." After a parade of swatches and styles were tried and discarded, a paper company at Mount Sinai came up with "a double-ply, semi-absorbent, bleached-wood-fibre product, with a forty-per-cent rag content and an embossed edge. The response was overwhelming, and the course of psychoanalysis was forever altered." As one doctor putatively put it: "It took seventy years before we perfected the beard and the fee. Now, finally, the napkin. No one need ever be crazy again." There were ten hits for Psychanalysis in OhioLINK and six for Psychanalytic. Very interestingly, psychoanalysis is variously translated into French as either psychanalyse or psychoanalyse, and sometimes even psycoanalyse*. OhioLINK contains 379 instances of psychanalyse* and 405 of psychoanalyse*. In this case, we must analyze each one carefully before recommending treatment.

(Photograph of Freud's sofa by Konstantin Binder
, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Athiest* (for Atheist*)

Human beings were created in the image of God, according to those who believe in Him. But those who don't might be reflecting on an altogether different question: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the "athiest" of all? It seems to be a highly competitive field at the moment, featuring such critical and comedic commentators as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, the late George Carlin, and now—with a new movie in release called Religulous (a seeming mashup of religious and ridiculous or incredulous)—TV talk show host and standup comic Bill Maher. Athiest* shows its face 19 times in OhioLINK and Athiesm* twice.

(Picture of Bill Maher, from Wordpress.com.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Morgage* (for Mortgage, etc.)

According to Wikipedia, the Marvel comic book character Morg "served as a herald of Galactus after Galactus' previous herald, Nova, was expelled for sparing suitable but inhabited planets from his hunger.... Impressed with Morg's demeanor and wary after losing several heralds to attacks of conscience, Galactus decided to employ this most brutal and remorseless specimen as his latest herald." It sounds like the warriors of Wall Street and the pushers of subprime mortgages could have used Morg as well. Take no pity on the nine typos found in OhioLINK for the word mortgage*. The T may be silent, but it's deadly.

(Morg in Silver Surfer, vol. 3, #109, 1995, by Tom Grindberg, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Terrror* (for Terrorist, etc.)

The typographical error Terrror* appears five times in OhioLINK, thus registering as a "low probability" threat to bibliographic access. Far more egregiously, the Rensselaer County Board of Elections in New York managed to contribute, if inadvertantly, to the swarm of dirty tricks aiming to undermine the Obama campaign by mailing out hundreds of absentee ballots last week with the name "Barack Osama" printed on them. It wasn't deliberate, they said, regretting the way it would have to have been the S key and not "a semicolon or exclamation point or something" that got past three proofreaders. In any case, the Rensselaer balloteers were good enough to leave Hussein out of the equation. After all, it's easier to explain away a "typo" than an entire middle name, suggestive though it may be, given that no one else was using them. (Even Biden is called, simply, "Joe." And in case you're wondering, McCain's middle name is Sidney.) It was further noted that the spell checker in Microsoft Word, lacking an entry for "Obama," suggests "Osama" as a substitute for the unwitting keyboard operator. It seems there's no substitute for plausible deniability except deniable plausibility.

(Barack Obama and the Bad Ballot.)

Carol Reid

Addendum: The mistake was apparently made by a Democratic worker, not a Republican one, according to this recent follow-up in the Albany Times Union.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Colombus, etc. (for Columbus, etc.)

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but back then English dictionaries, like the United States of America, did not yet exist and alternative spellings abounded. This is a difficult typo to pin down since there are so many names and other words containing this root. Most people know that it's Colombia, South America, and Columbia University or Ohio. Some know that Peter Falk played "Columbo" on TV. A few may even know that Colombo is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. (Or yogurt.) Beyond that you may have to go exploring a bit more than usual. In OhioLINK there are four cases of "Christopher Colombus" (nine without the quotation marks), although some look like variants. A search on Colombus + Columbus finds eight results, but Colombia + Columbia a whopping 228. Clearly, those are not all typos, but some of them probably are. Such works definitely need to be inspected firsthand to be sure.

(Statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sking, Skiiing (for Skiing)

My niece, who just turned nine, says she dreamt about a typographical error the other night. In the dream she saw a sign that read "Ski Lessons." Arriving at the scheduled time, excited to soon be sliding down the slopes, she took a closer look and saw that what it really said was: "Ski Diving Lessons." The I was meant to be a Y, it seems. Nevertheless, why ask why? Typos simply are: they're human nature, they're fun, and they require a lot of focus. A bit like skiing and sky diving. There were three cases of Sking and two of Skiiing in the OhioLINK database today. Thanks, Mary. Keep on dreaming!

(Skiers in High Park, Toronto, Canada, 1925, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Of of (for Of)

One category of typo is what we might call the "stutter"—a dubious doubling up of article, preposition, or other small word. These typos are made a lot and are hard to spot (although automated spelling and grammar checkers help facilitate this). A popular brain teaser asks you to count the number of F's in the following sentence: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. Many people apparently get the answer wrong because of a tendency to skip over the word of. I got 353 hits on Of of in OhioLINK, but not all such occurrences are typos. Exceptions might include titles like "Of Of Miracles" or two sentences where one ends with the preposition and the next one starts with it. (This is one I can't find a ready example of. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't any.) William Safire, in a recent column titled Of the Migrating Of, eschews the excessive use of of even in its singular form, and quotes Mary Cantwell who says: "Clearly, of is now something more than a mere preposition. It's a virus." But that is something we need not speak of. Our mission is merely to mop up the offending "Of-ofs."

(Makka Pakka doll, from the British kids' show "In the Night Garden." This fellow likes to clean stuff with his Uff-uff, a "bellows-like device" he "uses to dry the faces of the Pontipines and things in the garden.")

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Campain* (for Campaign, etc.)

A recent poll revealed 23 hits in OhioLINK for the typo Campain*. In 1992 an ACT UP member buttonholed Bill Clinton at a New York City fundraiser and, quoting author Vito Russo (The Celluloid Closet), told the presidential hopeful: "We're not dying of AIDS as much as we are dying of 11 years of government neglect." Clinton famously replied: "I feel your pain." Another Clinton was feeling our pain this election year as a majority of Democrats decided to go with Barack Obama instead. (Many people thought she was being a pain as well.) And if somebody smart doesn't do something about the economy (stupid), we might all find ourselves living in "Hooverville" housing the way they did back in the Great Depression. If so, maybe this time we should call our home away from home: Camp Pain.

(Little Billy Clinton in a town called Hope, from Wikimedia Commons.

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Prsident*, etc. (for President)

I recently saw Carll Tucker talk about his book The Bear Went over the Mountain, a chronicle of his quest to visit the gravesite of every deceased U.S. president and vice president. According to the author, James Buchanan was probably the worst of the lot—but he was also, for what it's worth, the only one presumed to be in love with his second in command. (We'll omit the obvious John McCain/Sarah Palin joke here, since it doesn't really look as though they'll be consummating their relationship.) Despite presidential attempts at PR, the press hinted at homosexuality, while Andrew Jackson brazenly referred to William Rufus deVane King as "Miss Nancy" or "Aunt Fancy." Prsident* appears in OhioLINK 30 times, Presdient* seven times, and Presdent* three times. (You might find a hanging chad or two for Persident* and Presidient* too). Like his far worthier successor, James Buchanan was born in a log cabin. On his last day in office, he remarked to Abraham Lincoln: "If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man."

(White House portrait of James Buchanan, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 6, 2008

Repubi* (for Republican)

Last week was Banned Books Week, which makes it a prime time to consider the Republican candidate for vice president's predilection for book banning. As mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin repeatedly asked the public librarian if she would be cool with removing controversial books from the library should the need ever come up. The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons (who was at that time president of the Alaska Library Association), told her she most certainly would not be. Palin then removed the librarian. The story has recently been embellished (a list of popular "banned books" circulating on the web was linked to this incident) to the point where many people now believe that Palin tried to ban books. That isn't true. She was just asking. As Sandy Berman once counseled us with regard to the alternative press, we must always be vigilant about our facts and sources. Things are bad enough as it is without pretending they're even worse and losing face in the process. We have got 33 records in OhioLINK for Repubi* and 30 days left to decide on a new "Decider." In the meantime, take look at the real list of books Sarah wants to censor.

(SNL's Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Libery (for Liberty)

"When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon." This warning came, not from George Orwell, but from Thomas Paine. Libery is a classic typo - a missing 't' near the end of a three syllable word. It's fairly easy to see how it happened and how the proof readers missed it. The error is found on the 'D,' or low probability section of the main list "Typographical Errors in Library Databases at http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/typoscomplete.html, meaning that the typo was found from 2 to 7 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. This morning, there were 11, which means that it is a candidate for promotion. Words can go up on the list but not down. This is because catalogers in Ohio can read our work and take out typos, so that wouldn't count. If the count goes to the next level it does count.

Today's photo shows the Staten Island Ferry heading for Manhattan with the Statue of Liberty in the background. It was taken last year on Governor's Island. The original can be found at

http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/65042744 .

Pumkin (for Pumpkin)

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion," according to Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau has a special connection with this group since a picture of Walden Pond was adapted as the logo for the main page of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/typoscomplete.html . You won't find Pumkin there because we just discovered it yesterday. At that time, it was found in 11 records in OhioLINK, and one of these was a legitimate proper name. It will appear in the Moderate Probability section of the list, for typos that appear up to 15 times in OhioLINK. Listkeeper Tina Gunther noted that most of those hits are in the notes fields. While notes fields are counted equally in our work, we do note that an error in a title field is the worst sort of typo, as it weakens title and keyword searches.

Today's photo is a closeup of a pumpkin array at a New Hampshire farm stand, keeping up our Autumnal state of mind. The original can be found at:
http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/33698578

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ocotber (for October)


"October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February." We apologize for quoting Mark Twain twice in one week, but we just couldn't pass this one up for some reason. On our master list of library catalog typos at http://faculty.quinnipiac.edu/libraries/tballard/typoscomplete.html, there are many versions of October, and we've already covered a few of them on this blog, but Ocotber is the highest ranked variation that we could find. It is on the 'C' or moderate probability section of the list. Checking OhioLINK this morning,we found 16 hits for the typo. At first glance, this looks more erroneous than it actually is - there is just an inverted letter at work here.

Today's photo shows a fall scene in Hamden, Connecticut, last year that defines the word 'orange.' The original can be found at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/51408623