Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31, 2007 - Solist (for Soloist)

Solist is a "high probability" typo, according to the Ballard list, but a confusing one to me at first, since I wasn't quite sure what it was a typo for. Is it solstice, I wondered, gazing out my window at the lengthening light and heightening snow? Or perhaps some sort of list, like the ones traditionally mused over today as we resolve to do things differently in the upcoming new year? Of course, as I quickly realized with some chagrin, upon typing it into OhioLINK, it's neither one of those, but another seasonal favorite: soloist. Featured 19 times there, you will most likely find it listed at least once in your own catalog as well. (Sculpture of Luciano Pavarotti, who passed away in 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 28, 2007 - Ducth, Neterland* (for Dutch, Netherland)

Q: What is the Flushing Remonstrance?

A) A movement to protest the excessive use of indoor plumbing
B) A trope of Victorian porn by which the demurring maid keeps the roué at bay
C) A 17th-century citizens' revolt by the residents of Flushing, Queens

The answer is C. On this day, 350 years ago, 23 farmers from Flushing, New York (then known as Vlishing, New Amsterdam, part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland), signed a declaration of refusal concerning governor Peter Stuyvesant's order to shun and imprison the Quakers among them, and frankly told him why. No longer content with "religious freedom for me, but not for thee," as it's often been characterized, they rejected the persecution of "Jews, Turks, and Egyptians ... Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, or Quaker," explaining that God had commanded it thus. This remarkable document, housed in the New York State Archives (and singed around the edges from the 1911 Library fire), is the precursor to the Bill of Rights and specifically the "establishment clause," being the first call for a separation of church and state. Ducth, Ductch, Dtuch, Neterland*, and Nehterland* all appear in the "lowest probability" portion of the Ballard list.

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007 - Artisit*, etc. (for Artist)

Artisit* is a "moderate probability" typo, with Artitic*, Artisty, Atrists, Artrist*, and Artsits bringing up the rear. Though hugely expressive, graphic artists are not always the greatest spellers, and the great sculptor and children's author/ illustrator Louis Slobodkin was no exception. He often joked about this foible in public and privately prevailed upon his wife (and occasional coauthor) Florence to transcribe and typewrite all of his manuscripts. His inability to spell was memorialized in Eleanor Estes' introduction to his Caldecott Award acceptance speech in 1944 for the illustrations in Many Moons by James Thurber. "It is true that to this day," wrote Estes, "Louis' spelling is glowingly original, as a careful scrutiny of any of his pictures in which spelling occurs will confirm." In any case, Louis did not sit on his laurels. After a celebrated career as a sculptor, followed by a mid-life conversion to children's literature (culminating in the illustration of nearly 90 books, half of which he wrote himself), Slobodkin retired in the early 1970s and is pictured sitting here, looking very artisty.

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26, 2007 - Hunderd, etc. (for Hundred)

Among the most numerous of typos are types of numbers, from scores of tortured –teens to four– for for– (and vice versa). And, while there may not be hundreds of ways to misspell the word hundred, there were, at last count, at least seven of them in OhioLINK, including Hundered, Hunded, Hunderd, Hundrd, Hundrerd, Hundrere*, and Hundrr*, which range from "high" to "lowest probability" on the Ballard list. In The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Wanda Petronski insists she has "a hundred dresses, all lined up" at home in her closet. And, like many a puzzling paradox, she both doesn't and does. (Drawing by Louis Slobodkin, 1944.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

December 25, 2007 - Schol, etc. (for School)

Today is the birthday of Jesus and it is also a day off from school. Jesus Christ was many things to many people, and one of them was a teacher. In the Book of Matthew, it's written: "And someone came to Him and said, 'Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?'" and Christ answered him: "Go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven." Around eight or so instances of Schols (out of a total of 37) in OhioLINK are typos for the word schools. The majority are personal names. This one appears on the "More List" portion of the Ballard list, spellings that are correct in some contexts, but incorrect in others. There are also 41 hits on Schol. Again, some are personal names (or foreign words), but a fair share of them are typos for school. OhioLINK also reveals eight records containing Shools and 24 containing Shool. Some of these may be an older, variant spelling of the Yiddish word shul, which is itself derived from the German word for school. (Pictured is a haven for schoolchildren in Lake Placid, New York, the North Country School, established in 1938, following the founding of Camp Treetops, located on the same property, in 1921.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 24, 2007

December 24, 2007 - Jane Austin (for Austen)

Because of pride and prejudice, in spite of sense or sensibility, wherever we continue to write, we continue to make typos. The prolific Jane Austen was probably no different. But she pressed on in her quest, in various pre-Victorian drawing-rooms and wherever else she could carry a quill pen, and from quite an early age. Some of her earliest titles, in fact, bear the unmistakable mark of a precocious novelist: Love & Freindship, published in 1790, for example, which Austen authored at the age of fourteen. OhioLINK exhibits the classic etiquette error of failing to get your guest's name right with 20 instances of Jane Austin, making it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. (Pictured is the Jane Austen action figure from the Archie McPhee store in Seattle, Washington.)

Carol Reid

Update: Thanks go to a reader who urges caution with this typo, pointing out that there is a 18th-century author by the name of Jane G. (Goodwin) Austin (1831-1894).

Friday, December 21, 2007

December 21, 2007 - Martyd*, etc. (for Martyr)

Martyrs of all kinds are much on our minds, and will probably always be with us. Martyd* occurs 19 times in OhioLINK, making it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list, and Martry* occurs six times, making it a low one. It's easy to see why there's a tendency to make these types of typos, so you will have to tyr hard to avoid them. Martyrs themselves often try a bit too hard and tend toward victimization. In the film Marty, Paddy Chayefsky's Oscar-winning paean to the little guy, kindly Ernest Borgnine tries to surmount a series of reversals and eventually turns things around for himself.

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20, 2007 - Interent, etc. (for Internet)

Do you ever feel like you're only renting the Internet, rather than owning it? Is your LAN lording it over you? Does information, as Stewart Brand famously proclaimed, really want to be free? As libraries charge more and more for services, it seems like a patron can't just look it up, take it out, or print it off anymore, without forking over a small fortune for paper, ink, and the generalized whirring and grinding of gears. Many libraries used to have the word Free right in their names; you don't see that so much anymore. A more likely semantic addition is the name of a corporation that's helping finance the library, resulting in something like the "Bausch and Lomb Public Library Building" in Rochester, New York. Even just that fleeting feeling of being free at the library is starting to fade away, what with more filtering and less privacy on the web (not to mention, so to speak, the PATRIOT Act). Fortunately, there are organizations dedicated to reversing such trends and providing more "open source" and "open content" opportunities, independent and self-publishing ventures, and the rich, free material found on blogs, wikis, and the like. Interent is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list; other variants in OhioLINK include Intenet and Internt. (Detail from the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont, which celebrated the centennial of its Carnegie building in 2004.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19, 2007 - Fokl*, etc. (for Folk*)

Whether you called it "folk music" or "protest music," it actually wasn't a whole lot hipper forty years ago than it is today, especially for those folk for whom the medium is cooler than the message. Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs (born on this day in 1940) started out in the clubs of Greenwich Village as friendly rivals and peace-loving peers, but Dylan soon disavowed the folkie taint, after taunting Ochs one time during an argument: "You're not a folksinger, you're a journalist." (Phil, who had majored in journalism at Ohio State, probably didn't take it too amiss since he tended to regard the music primarily as a tool for the exchange of ideas and cheerfully admitted his songs were mostly based on articles he read in Newsweek.) Since Ochs's death in 1976, he's been widely regarded as perhaps the greatest folksinger-songwriter the world has ever known, and, even back in the day, was implicitly, if grudgingly, accorded that honor by Dylan himself, who once said: "I just can't keep up with Phil. And he's getting better and better and better." If you're in the mood to snicker at the worst "folk music" had to offer, I suggest you check out the riotously funny satire A Mighty Wind, but if you're of a mind to revisit the politics of the sixties by way of transcendent musical and lyrical virtuosity, spin an old Phil Ochs platter. And if you simply want to make sure that folks find what they're searching for, then check your catalog for the following typos: Folkor ("high probability" on the Ballard list), Foklor* ("moderate"), Floklo* ("low"), and Floks ("lowest"). (Photo of Phil Ochs from the Notable Names Database.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December 18, 2007 - Becuase (for Because)

"Because the world is round," sang the Beatles, "it turns me on." And because a word (spelled wrong) is found, that turns me on. Although Becuase is found in the "low probability" section of the Ballard list, it never made it across my own universe of typos until I recently came across a blog that linked to another blog in the magazine New Scientist, where it was suggested that this could well be "the most common typo in the English language." The writer came to this tentative conclusion after typing Becuase into a "famous web search engine," which (mystifyingly for a moment) he thereafter refers to as FWSE (apparently what Google's lawyers prefer you call it), and getting an admittedly impressive 4,950,000 hits (although I only get 684,000). OhioLINK's results were far more modest: Becuase appears there nine times, and Cuas* five times. Therefore, I really doubt this claim is true, but even if it is, I'm at a loss for an explanation. Why is Becuase such a common typo? Just because. (Picture of the Beatles from

Carol Reid

Monday, December 17, 2007

December 17, 2007 - Linquist*, etc. (for Linguist)

Linquist* is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list, with 56 hits in OhioLINK, followed by the less likely variants Lingusti*, Lingusi*, and Linguistc*. This misspelling of linguist, linguistics, etc. appears in English, French, and Spanish. But, as linguists around the world can tell you, it isn't spelled with a q in any language. Linquist, however, does appear to be a proper name (around a quarter of the hits in OhioLINK were for the name, although some of them might have also been misspelled). The Swedish surname is spelled both with and without a d, although the former is far more common. Speaking of names, The Golden Name Day by Jennie D. Lindquist was named a Newbery Honor Book in 1956. Lindquist also edited The Horn Book from 1951 to 1958, worked at the erstwhile John Mistletoe Bookshop in Albany, N.Y., and was head of the children's department at Albany Public Library.

Carol Reid

Friday, December 14, 2007

December 14, 2007 - Nashiville

Nashiville for Nashville seems to be a complete mystery. It is on the C, or Moderate list at . That means that at the time of its discovery there were at least eight hits in OHIOLINK. Today there were no hits for this in OHIOLINK, and a modest 34 in Worldcat. Even in Google, there were fewer than 20,000 hits. With many typos, you can see how the problem may have occurred. That is not the case here. Barring further information from the culprits, we'll just have to leave this as a mystery.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13, 2007 - Softwear

Softwear for Software. Somebody must have developed a new line of loose-fitting clothes for computer geeks and used this term deliberately. That is not likely to be the case in the softwear cases found in libraries' online catalogs. Fortunately this one is not a very likely term in your catalog. It is on the D list at Typographical errors in library databases ( . Out of curiosity, we checked Google for this and got nearly 5 million hits. On the first page, it seemed evenly divided between the deliberate and the carelessly spelled.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December 12, 2007 - Aluminmum

Aluminmum for aluminum in found on the E list of the Main list of OPAC typographical errors at . This means that this only had one hit on the OhioLINK database when it was discovered. It fits the classic pattern of a mistake at the end of a long word. We suspect that two things happened here. Somebody hit the "n" key at the right side and activated the "m" key as well. Secondly, a proofreader was thinking about something else. As always, we recommend that you check the specific context in the record if you find this in your catalog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December 11, 2007 - Cemetry

Cemetry for Cemetery is a classic case of a dropped vowel at the end of a common multisyllabic word. It can be found on the C, or moderate probability, list in our compilation of OPAC typos at Four months ago, the typo Cemetary appeared in these pages. Cemetary is a very different sort of a typo because many people don't know how to spell this word, whereas Cemetry is simply a case of carelessness.

Monday, December 10, 2007

December 10, 2007 - Enviornment

On the day that Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the environment, this one jumped out at us. It is on the B, or high probability, list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases at, meaning that it was found at least 16 times in the OhioLINK catalog at the time of its discovery. When you supersize this by adding the truncation *, the total jumps to 50. As always, we like to point out that any corrections made on the basis of these postings need to be checked individually in your catalog. Sometimes a typo is deliberate, or present in the original work.

Friday, December 7, 2007

December 7, 2007 - "3th" for 3rd (perhaps) or 13th (perhaps)

The typo "3th" is not easy or fun to fix. What is the correction? For the 12 results in OhioLINK, many "3th" were indicated as [sic] in the title. Other results were for conference headings and still others were possible typos in note fields. If you can't fix it now, take heart from Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) who said: Delay is preferable to error.

Wendee Eyler

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December 6, 2007 - "2rd" for 2nd (or 3rd?)

You'll probably find a few "2rd" typos--and they are not easy fixes. Verification is needed if the correction should be "2nd" or "3rd." Some OhioLINK examples are for:

Performers note: violin (2rd work)
Conference heading: (2rd : 1966 : Detroit, Mich.)
Series (microfilm): Document / 25 Congress, 2rd session. House ; no. 78

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

December 5, 2007 - "0f" [zero-f] and 0ff [zero-f-f] for "of" and off"

This is a similar type error to using the letter "l" for the number "1" that was a common error in the 1980s and 90s when the switch was made from typewriters to computer keyboards. Frankly, I can't imagine why someone would use the number zero instead of the letter "o" in common words, such as of and off. You'll find the incorrect zero-f in phrases such as "1 0f 2" and the incorrect zero-f-f as a abbreviation for U.S. Gov. Print. "0ff." in the 260 field.

Wendee Eyler

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007 - "21th" for 21st

The typo "21th" is a high probability error in online catalogs. Many of the 93 results in OhioLINK were for 18th century titles on microfilm--and it's hats off to those who verify title entries by checking microfilm reels! Luckily, many 18th century titles are now available electronically--a simple click is all that is needed to verify typos from the original piece. Conference heading, subject heading, and summary note typos with "21th" require some analysis. Should the typo be corrected to "20th" or "21st"?

Wendee Eyler

Monday, December 3, 2007

December 3, 2007 - "2Lst" for 21st

Using the letter "l" for the number "1" is a no-no! The typo "2lst" will commonly be found in titles or subjects. You can usually make this correction of "L" to "1" without consulting the piece--but always be careful when making corrections to typos.

Wendee Eyler

Friday, November 30, 2007

November 30, 2007 - Chatanooga*

Chatanooga*, for Chattanooga, is a typo from the B list (High Probability). Two other versions of the same typo are Chatatnooga* and Chattanog*, both from the E list.

Image of Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007 - Dobly

Dobly for Dolby is a High Probablity typo most likely to show up in audiovisual records.

Ray Dolby of Dolby Laboratories, member of the Inventors Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November 28, 2007 - Digitial*

Digitial* for digital is a typo of Moderate probability, as is digtial* (to be added this year). Less likely to be found are digtal* and digiital*.

Image of digital metronome courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007 - Hospt*

Hospt* (truncated form to be used with wildcard symbol) is a High Probability typo for hospital, hospitalization, etc.

Other less frequently found typos for the same words include: hospita, Hopital*, Hopsi*, Hostpi*, Hopist*, Hosital*, Hospitol*, Hsopital, and Hospitalizt*.

CORRECTION: David Moody commented that the acronym NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A different meaning was given in yesterday's post.
Ward in the hospital in Arles by Van Gogh courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 26, 2007 - Aeronatuic*

Today's typo, aeronatuic* for aeronautic*, comes from the Moderate Probability list. As always, using the wildcard symbol from your system will pull up the greatest number of typos. Other misspellings of the same word include Aeonau*, Aeornautic*, Aeoronautic*, Aernonautic*, Aeronalutic*, Aeronatutic*, Aeronauatic*, Aeronautc*, Aeronutic* (D list) and Aeornauatic* and Aernoautic* (E list).

A related issue concerns the full name of NASA : National Aeronautics and Space Agency rather than Aeronautic, as frequently found in Wikimedia Commons.

NASA image of Florida peninsula courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 23, 2007 - Belive*, etc. (for Believe)

René Descartes famously declared, "I think, therefore I am," a sentiment that can sort of be squashed into a single non-word, our typo of the day: Belive. We believe things, which makes us live or be. Or, rather, 'twould be impossible to be a living human being and not a believing one, or a thinking one. My high school English teacher, Helen Adler, who passed away last year to the great sorrow of a great many people, liked the Blaise Pascal quote, "Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed," and as a result the school's creative writing and art publication was called The Thinking Reed. Another serious thinker, Edward R. Murrow, developed a five-minute radio program during which both famous and ordinary Americans would read personal essays on the subject "This I Believe." This, I believe, was a fairly bold statement at the height of the McCarthy era when all kinds of Americans were being persecuted for what they believed. Belive* is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list, occurring on 76 records in OhioLINK. Belieiv* appears in the "lowest probability" section. Specific forms of the typo are found in OhioLINK as follows: Beliver* (eight times), Belives (five), and Belived and Beliving (one time apiece).

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 22, 2007 - Thankgiving, Indain*, Pilgrams, and Trukey*, etc. (for Thanksgiving, Indian*, Pilgrims, and Turkey)

Today we can all give a word of thanks for the fact that there are relatively few typos in OhioLINK for the word Thanksgiving. To be exact, we found eight for Thankgiving, three for Thansgiving, two for Thanksiving, and one for Thnaksgiving. (Regrettably, we had to pass on Tanksgiving and Thinksgiving, potential variants that tickle the funny bone, although for that very reason there seem to be numerous sites on Google employing them each as puns.) As for the three main players at the First Supper, there are seven servings of Indain*, three of Pilgrams, two of Trukey*, and about 35 of Turky (which was apparently an alternate spelling for both Turkey and turkey back in the day).

During this time of reflection on our British forebears, it might also be a good time to point out that you can distinguish, in many cases, between typos and good old-fashioned "spelings" by consulting the Oxford English Dictionary, which is freely accessible online through your local library's subscription and still consuming about as much room in print as the original Thanksgiving dinner did, on shelves in any good, large library. (Pictured here is The First Thanksgiving, by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris, from Wikimedia Commons, available there because its shelf life, unlike that of today's leftovers, has long ago expired.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November 21, 2007 - Festchrift*, etc. (for Festschrift)

Festschrifts (or Festschriften) are generally solemn publications, but can sometimes be quite funny when humor is what is called for. In 1971, admirers of the linguist Jim McCawley published one "on the occasion of his 33rd or 34th birthday" entitled Studies out in Left Field: Defamatory Essays Presented to James D. McCawley ("in reality … an unforgettable collection of ludo- and scatolinguistics"). Prior to Molly Ivins' death in 2007, the Berkeley Daily Planet launched the "Molly Ivins Festschrift," writing: "Academics are wont to create festschrifts on the occasion of a revered colleague's sixtieth birthday, for example. Molly's already sixty-two, but no time like the present to catch up with what we should have done two years ago. And we might call it festschrift if we could reliably remember how to spell or pronounce that German word, but let's just call it the Molly Ivins Tribute Project."

Defined as "a volume of writings by different authors presented as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar," Festschrift is another example of a word that is difficult to spell and therefore prone to typographical error. Festchrift turns up 19 times in OhioLINK; Feschrift three times; and Fetschrift once (correspondingly, 357, 54, and 25 times in WorldCat). There are a total of 93,044 correctly spelled instances in WorldCat and 436 incorrectly spelled ones, which is to say that out of every 200 or so records containing this word, one of them has it spelled wrong. (A somewhat lower ratio obtains in OhioLINK.) While correcting this typo, note that it should also be capitalized and coded 1 under "Fest" in the Fixed Field of your record. (Photo of cataloging maverick in 1963 and subject of the 1995 Festschrift Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sandy Berman but Were Afraid to Ask.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007 - Ophtalm*, etc. (for Ophthalmology)

Most of us would rather make an appointment to see one and be made to read that last little line of letters on the wall than have to spell the word ophthalmologist. William Proctor, in The Terrible Speller, shamefacedly owns up to having written a book in which he consistently misspells it throughout. "Pronounce the word correctly," he says, "and you'll greatly increase the odds that you'll spell it correctly." Ophtalm*, Opthalm*, and Ophtham* are charted as "high probability" typos on the Ballard list (with Optham* and Opthom* showing up lower down). This eye-popping word is difficult to pronounce and even harder to put together. Simply put, one needn't be a visionary to know that it spells trouble. (In a must-see performance, Bette Davis is kept in the dark by her doctor husband about an inoperable brain tumor in the film Dark Victory.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007 - Potrait*, etc. (for Portrait)

Red, yellow, green, and purple, the Teletubbies make quite a picture. Although their traits are more than just tints. And Tinky Winky isn't the only one capable of raising eyebrows. The red one, Po, for example, while she hasn't exactly been accused of being a Communist, has been described as having indeterminate gender (she's really just a tomboy) and the ability to speak Cantonese. She's the smallest and most mischievous of the four and the reported favorite among young viewers. In OhioLINK, Potrait* pops up about ten times ("Again! Again!"), which lands it in the "high probability" section of the Ballard list. Portriat* pulls in 7 hits, but Portait* with 50 and Protrait* with 55 are the clear winners when it comes to misrepresentations of portrait. (Teletubbies tenth anniversary photo op from New York Magazine, March 28, 2007.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 16, 2007 - Willl* (for Willa, William, etc.)

I know a girl named Willa who is so nice you want to spell her name twice. Or perhaps even thrice. The letter L appears three tangential times in today's typo, which itself is found 63 times in OhioLINK, for names beginning with Will. Bear in mind, though, that while many Willas, Willems, and Williams, for example, do come from Germany, there are other German words that legitimately have three letters lined up in a row. This is due to a recent spelling reform concerning compound nouns in which the first element ends in a double letter and the second one starts with the same letter. (Prior to the reform, one of those double letters would have been omitted.) An acceptable variant allows for inclusion of a hyphen, especially in the case of vowels. So you will have to be vigilant when searching for triple-letter typos, but where there's a will, there's a way, and when it comes to names with the letter L, zwei ist company und drei ist ein crowd. (Picture of Willa Cather on the Burlington Railroad.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007 - Orchesta*, etc. (for Orchestra)

In another nonsensical Carroll classic, Humpty Dumpty declares: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." One imagines him taking a similar approach, more or less, to the spelling of a word as well. Likewise, many librarians seem to find that the word orchestra contains one more letter than they'd like it to, as there are fully 73 examples of Orchesta*, and 20 of Orcestra*, currently causing disharmony in OhioLINK. These are typos of "high probability," 21 of them occurring in title or subject fields. The July 6 entry Ochestra set the stage for today's typo, with the Ballard list including the following variations on a theme: Orchetra*, Orchstra*, Orcherstra*, Orchesrt*, and Orchestrs. Tune up your OPACs by cleaning up these clams and pretty soon we'll all be making beautiful music together. (Illustration from Alice in Orchestralia by Ernest la Prade, 1925.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007 - Hybird*, etc. (for Hybrid)

Perhaps the best thing about spell checkers is the way they introduce you to interesting new words (while completely missing the mark in terms of doing their actual job). My own guide to spelling was recently startled by a tagline, urging me to change it to "tiglon." Curious as a cat, I pounced upon a dictionary, whereupon I learned that it's a hybrid, the offspring of a male tiger and a female lion. (Also known as a "tigon" or "tigron.") The converse is called a "liger." (Tiger, see Lion. Lion, see Tiger. Nine months later ... ooh, what a cute little cross-reference!) These are portmanteau words, a coinage from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky: "Well, slithy means lithe and slimy ... You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word." Today's typos are also hybrids of a sort. They're what happens when a good word meets a bad writer. Hybird* appears in OhioLINK seven times, Hybid* and Hybrd* one time each. (Tiglon rendering from website To Worlds Unknown.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007 - Einsten, Enstein, Einstien & Refridg*

No, that's not a law firm, and I'm no Einstein, but at least I can spell his name right. As no doubt can most people, given that Albert Einstein was one of the most famous men who ever lived. Albert himself, however, was an abysmal speller, possibly due to having dyslexia. OhioLINK contains three instances of Einsten, two of Einstien, and one of Enstein. On November 11, 1930, our boy genius, along with his protégé and pal Leó Szilárd, came out with a cool invention that came to be known as the "Einstein Refrigerator." Which brings us to our second typo of the day: Refridg*. It appears on the Ballard list in the "lowest probability" category, and while that might not sound too bad, it's all relative, since refrigerator is not a word that gets out that much. It's clear, in any case, why it tends to get misspelled: It's a back-formation from "fridge," which is spelled that way because the pronunciation is less ambiguous than were it spelled "frig," and because it's less likely to look like a euphemism for fuck (despite its also-sexual relationship to the word frigidity). As for the Einstein Refrigerator, what's next? The Quantum Vacuum?

Carol Reid

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007 - Anias Ninn (for Anaïs Nin)

With almost 3,000 Google hits on Anais Ninn, and nearly 1,000 on Anias Nin, today's typo (often mispronounced with a long, stressed i) is a classic misreading at first blush, much like the author herself was at times. A French-born scribbler of high-toned erotica, erudite diarist, and intimate friend of Henry and June Miller, Anaïs Nin was a study in contrasts. Study the way her name is spelled and you'll always know what an A is. In fact, there were only four misspellings of it found in OhioLINK (Anas for Anaïs), probably due to the diacritics, which prompt either close attention to transcription or the shortcut of "copy and paste."

Carol Reid

Friday, November 9, 2007

November 9, 2007 - Progam*, etc. (for Program)

Progam* is a typo of "highest probability" and appears 114 times in OhioLINK, along with a handful of second-stringers such as Porgr*, Progm*, Pogram*, Prorgram*, and Progrom*. If you want to rid your database of typographical errors, you'll need to get with the program and kick it into high gear. Learn how to consult the Ballard list; properly truncate your search terms; separate acceptable variants from actual misspellings; employ "sic" or "i.e." and your 246 fields to indicate printer- as opposed to cataloger-supplied errors; and keep in mind which words are hard to spell versus which are hard to type. Today's entry is a case in point concerning the various and predictable ways that transcribing a simple word can go awry: letter inversion (roor), letter elision (omitting a letter, usually a vowel), substituting one vowel for another (especially when they sound alike), etc. With regular practice, you'll come to intuit which sorts of words are problematical and therefore likely to generate typos. And pay attention to the way your own fingers dance across the keyboard. If you tend to trip up in certain ways on certain words, chances are that others do too. (Photo of the Rockettes from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 8, 2007

November 8, 2007 - Withcraft, etc. (for Witchcraft)

Whether with one c or two, witchcraft contains a lot of contiguous consonants, which might be why it's so easy to fall under a confused spell while spelling it. OhioLINK turns up an unlucky 13 cases of Withcraft, three of Whichcraft, and one of Wichcraft. Much like the guilt of accused witches in Salem, Massachusetts, it's a matter of "high probability." Practice the craft with which you've been entrusted and you should be able to transform these typos to their original state without resorting to magic. Have no fear, though. The Pope himself has recently decreed that witchcraft (at least of the Harry Potter sort) is no longer considered "anti-Christian."

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November 7, 2007 - Rockfeller* (for Rockefeller)

During the 1960s, Governor Nelson Rockefeller displaced 9,000 residents of downtown Albany in order to make room for the new NYS Library and Museum, among many other state offices. This whitewashed wind tunnel of teeming civil servitude (inspired by a visit from Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and described by art critic Robert Hughes as having a somewhat fascistic aesthetic) is also known as the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, not to be confused with the (John D.) Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. There are 27 hits on Rockfeller* in OhioLINK and, although this upper-crust clan is pretty populous, I'm quite sure none of them spell their name that way. "Rocky" served four terms as governor, along with veep to Gerald Ford, and repeatedly ran for president. Although he carved out a successful career in politics, Nelson never ascended to the heights of these other rocky fellers. (Photo of Mount Rushmore from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

November 6, 2007 - Supris* (for Surprise)

Election Day is the day we find out whether this year's "October Surprise" was sufficient in its shock and awe to swing some undecided voters. I wasn't too surprised to see five instances of Supris* in my library catalog, though I was a bit more alarmed at the 97 results revealed by OhioLINK. Here is an example of a word so routinely mispronounced (cf. "beserk" for berserk) that it simply leads many people to write it the way it sounds. One thing that did surprise me was when I recently discovered that the Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists surprize as an acceptable variant. (It was a common form of the word in the 1700s, which may be inferred from the 209 examples in OhioLINK.) While the Brits tend in general to favor zed-less spelling, Americans often prefer their zees. There are complicated rules governing this, but in short, according to "... There are only about four words where -ize is obligatory, viz prize, size, assize, and capsize." (Kinder Surprise pic from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 5, 2007

November 5, 2007 - Survery*, etc. (for Survey*)

Making lists and taking surveys are both popular American pastimes (except for when the phone rings during dinnertime), as numerous best-selling "books of lists" and TV game shows like Power of 10 can attest. A survey of OhioLINK showed Survery* 38 times, Suvey* 19 times, and Suvery* three times. Surveys map our lands as well as our Zeitgeist, and run the gamut from the U.S. Census to American Idol. Gallup is the oldest continuously running opinion poll in the country, which I guess makes it very "survery." As Bob Dylan might have said: They poll ya when you're trying to cast your vote, they poll you even when they say they won't…

Carol Reid

Friday, November 2, 2007

November 2, 2007 - "Betweeen" for Between

Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” You hate to misquote a saying, but to misspell a word in a quote takes all the punch out of it. The same is true of online catalogs. Several typos of "Betweeen" are most likely waiting for correction in your catalog--particularly in title fields, summary and contents notes, and 260 field dates when the cataloger has given a range of possible dates, such as "between 1856 and 1862."
Wendee Eyler
Photo credit:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November 1, 2007 - "Novermb*" for November

"Novermb*" is only one way to mangle the spelling of the month and has a high probability of being misspelled in your catalog.

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 31, 2007

B O O O !
"Booo" isn't actually on the typo list because the word or sound is used frequently in printed texts to convey spookiness. "Boook*" is on the list for moderate probability. Correcting "booo*" titles and contents notes need to be done with book-in-hand. What is scary is that "boook," "boooks," "booomer," "booogie," and the family names of "Boooge" and "Booone" are readily used in place of the correct spelling in online catalogs!
Wendee Eyler
photo credit:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 30, 2007 - Halll*

Since Wednesday, October 31, is Halloween, you might want to check your catalog for any typos that begin "Halll*". This typo is on the Low Probability list, but expect to find "Halll" for a last name, or the word "Halllujah," or publisher "Hallltd." Even "Hallloween" might be lurking.

Wendee Eyler

Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29, 2007 - Greee*

Greee* is a typo for words that should begin with "gree" ! A check of OhioLINK found these variations of typos in title, contents, summary, added entry, and subject fields:


Use truncation in a keyword search to find even more!

Wendee Eyler

Friday, October 26, 2007

October 26, 2007 - Distrub

Distrub for disturb resides on the Highest Probability (Section A) of the typo list.

Be sure to use the wildcard symbol for best results.

Door sign created by the staff of Tutt Library at Colorado College.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 2007 - Newstand

It's two words combined that keep all the original letters. Somehow the second s is dropped often enough to put today's typo, newstand for newsstand, on the list of entries for next year's Low Probability D section.

Barcelona newsstand image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

October 24, 2007 - Shakepear*

Shakepear* for Shakespeare, a High Probability B error, has an asterisk to suggest making a truncated search with your system's wildcard symbol, thus pulling up Shakepear, Shakepeare and Shakepearean. Several other typos show up on the Lowest Probability E List: Sakespear* Shakekpear* Shakesear* Shakespaear* Shkespear* Akespear* and Hakespear*

The Bard himself spelled his name several ways. The most frequent alternative was Shakespear.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007 - Extraterrestial

Extraterrestial for extraterrestrial is a new High Probability entry. A missing letter toward the end of a long word is easy to overlook. But if they are thoughtful enough to visit us, we should take the time to spell their appellation correctly.

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 22, 2007 - tot he

Tot he, a typo for to the, is being added to the Moderate Probability C list. It invariably happens in a title, usually one in a contents note. Although it may not sabotage a keyword search, it is worth clearing out of our databases just because it's there.

Tot photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 19, 2007

October 19, 2007 - Yeaer*

Yeaer* Although this typo occurs only once in a while, it's fitting to report, especially since the blog has now been operating for 374 days, give or take a few.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October 18, 2007 - Y20th

Instances of y20th, if you find them, will almost certainly be errors in MARC coding.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 17, 2007 - Kentycky

Kentycky is not a typo you'd expect to find in many records, but an astonishing twenty were retrieved in OhioLINK. They're all found in microform reproduction notes, and are probably the result of either using a template or deriving one record from another. Ycky!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16, 2007 - Kentuckly

Kentuckly, unlike yesterday's post, is not likely to be a spelling from centuries gone by. You'll be luckly if you find it, since only two records were found, each with just one holding, at OhioLINK. The typo was in the contents note in each case.

Monday, October 15, 2007

October 15, 2007 - Kentuckey

Kentuckey, if encountered, is more likely to date from centuries past when spelling was not standardized. It's unlikely, however, that the publication "The woolen industry of the Midwest [by] Norman L. Crockett" actually was issued with the imprint as "The University Press of Kentuckey".

Friday, October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007 - Grat Britain

Grat Britain for Great Britain is a puzzler. Most dropped-vowel typos tend to be buried at the end of long words. It is on the Low Probability list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases, but there were 37 hits for it this morning in WorldCat. Since the R and E keys are adjacent on a QWERTY keyboard, one can imagine how the initial miskeying occurred. More confusing is how it got past proofreaders at the local and OCLC level.