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

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