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