Monday, March 31, 2008

Agrument* (for Argument)

Agrument (for Argument)

"Agrument" for Argument reminds me of stubborn Zax who are unwilling to compromise in "The Sneetches and Other Stories" by Dr. Seuss.

The South-Going Zax yells at the North-Going Zax:

"Never budge! That's my rule.
Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I'll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!"

If you have the typo "Agrument" it's not budging until you fix it.

Wendee Eyler

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scuptur* (for Sculpture)

Eighteen cases of Scuptur*, two of Scluptur*, and one of Scuptor* were found in the OhioLINK database the other day. A scup (or porgy) is a fish found in the Atlantic Ocean between South Carolina and Massachusetts. Piscean sculptor and architect Frank Gehry (whose performing arts center at Bard College I found myself in last weekend) reportedly has a fondness for fish motifs. And, incidentally, while most dictionaries consider sculpt to be a valid back-formation or alteration of the word sculpture, some old-timers don't, preferring we use sculpture for both noun and verb, or even just as noun alone. Sculp, however, is widely viewed as incorrect, although Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language ("regarded by many as the finest English dictionary ever published") defines it without reservation as "to carve; to engrave." (The 1993 Columbia Guide to Standard American English calls sculp "standard" but "rare.") Not to sound too wishy-washy or to pick a fight here, but I'm not really sure what I think about all that, and I'm also not sure whether anyone has ever sculpted a scup. (I did, however, find this wonderful photo by Gerardus of "Fish with Soldier" by Tom Otterness, located in The Hague, Netherlands, at Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jon, Greeleaf, etc., Whitter (for John Greenleaf Whittier)

"Blessings on thee, little man," my father would intone at the dinner table on occasion, in a kind of mashup of grace and poetry. "Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan! With thy turned-up pantaloons, and thy merry whistled tunes..." The typo John Greenleaf Whitter turned up in OhioLINK to the merry tune of four times; WorldCat served up 26 hits for that one and three for Jon Greenleaf Whittier, plus one apiece for John Greeleaf Whittier, John Grenleaf Whittier, and John Greenlead Whittier. Although he received little in the way of formal education, Whittier managed to complete high school in a single year and was a devoted Quaker and avid Abolitionist. He was also editor of the influential Whig journal the New England Weekly Review. I'm sure his editorial blessings would be on all of you as well if you would be so kind as to correct those misspellings of his name in your catalogs. (1885 portrait of John Greenleaf Whittier from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Barbra, etc. (for Barbara)

In Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney paints the picture of a librarian who follows her grandfather's recipe for a purposeful life: "Do something to make the world more beautiful." She decides to plant lupines. Eleanor Estes once told an interviewer that the character of Rufus Moffat "was based on five-year-old Barbara Cooney who filed a library application, climbing the big stairs of New Haven's George Bruce Branch Library where I worked." I found several typos for the word Barbara sprinkled throughout OhioLINK, including one for Babrara and three for Brabara, but further variants proved somewhat elusive. A search on Babara retrieved 50 hits, but only a dozen after modified thusly: Babara + Barbara. Similarly, I reduced 76 hits for Barbar to the more appropriate ten for Barbar + Barbara. Doing this judiciously will help you effectively separate the wheat from the chaff, although it can also end up missing some of the wheat should an errant cataloger have used copy & paste, thereby replicating the typo consistently. Boolean searches will cut down on false positives, but won't entirely eliminate them. In another example, I got 39 hits on Barbara + Barbra, only 22 of which explicitly contained a typo. (One of those that didn't was Bernard Goldberg's 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America—and Al Franken is #37. He counts among such notables both Barbara Walters and Barbra Streisand, along with two other Barbaras.) Be sure to check the work itself if you're in any doubt. (Portrait of Barbara Cooney, who clearly left the world a more beautiful place, from the Favorable Impressions website and the Skidompha Public Library, in Damariscotta, Maine.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fminis*, Femenis* (for Feminist, Feminism)

March is National Women's History Month and the one in which six more states held caucuses or primaries for the 2008 presidential election. In honor of the history-making campaigns this year by both a woman and a black man, let's pause to remember Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American to run on a major party ticket in 1972, and Victoria Woodhull, who represented the "Free Love" platform exactly one hundred years before that. OhioLINK gives us several typo candidates for feminist* and feminism, including Fminis* (two), Feminisn (one), Femenist* (six), and Femenism (four)—the latter two initially striking me as witty, if unwitting, bids for inclusion. Upon further inspection, it seems as though a few of them actually were "ment" to be puns. (Photograph of Shirley Chisholm from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 24, 2008

Steriod* (for Steroid)

Steroid use in competitive sports has hit a sore spot with bad-boy ballplayer Jose Canseco's told-ya-so tell-all called Vindicated, in which he declares victory over the blind as a bat naysayers in his chosen field. OhioLINK swells with a muscular 36 cases of Steriod* and four more of Stereoid*. (Pictured here on an early 20th-century baseball card is Hall of Famer Addie Joss, looking quite naturally fit and trim, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Correction: It has come to our attention that stereoid is a mycological term, correctly used in the references above, and, according to Wikipedia, "should not be confused with the word steroid."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Crucifixation (for Crucifixion)

Crucifixation - this error is something of a puzzle. It is unusual enough for a typo to contain an added letter to an otherwise correct word, but adding two letters is unique. It is found in the D section of the Main List of typographical errors in library databases, meaning that it was present between 2 and 7 times in OhioLINK when it was found. Indeed, 4 records with the typo were present in OhioLINK this morning. A search in Google tells us that at least one rock band has deliberately taken the name Crucifixation, so we would urge more caution than usual in evaluating and possibly correcting records with this term. As an aside, we seem to remember reading that the Good in Good Friday was derived from God, but couldn't back that up today in any recognized source.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Enterance (for Entrance)

As we enter a new season this morning, we could not find a typo for Spring that has not been covered, so we moved on and found this typo at the lowest level of the Main List of typos at This is an unusual sort of typo because it adds a letter that shouldn't be there. Google shows nearly half a million hits for this, so I suspect it is a word that some people just cannot spell correctly. However, given the fact that the error is near the beginning of the word, one can see how this rarely gets past proofreaders. There were 40 of these in WorldCat this morning, and that confirms the idea that the typo is a low risk item for your own OPAC.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Franciso (for Francisco)

This morning we went shopping for a word in the very high probability list - meaning that the errors showed up more than 100 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. This means that the error is almost certainly lurking in your catalog. To help prove this statement, we went to most of the major online catalogs in Connecticut and had no trouble finding the term in each one. Expanding the search to the phrase "San Franciso" showed that about two-thirds of these were associated with the city. Many of the others are personal names, so they should be dealt with carefully, even though we could find no examples of Franciso being a legitimate name.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Learnig (for Learning)

Learnig is one of nearly 3000 words in the D, or Low Probability section of the Ballard list at , meaning that the error was found at least twice but had no more than 7 hits in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Missing letters are, by far, the most common sort of error because the human mind tends to fill in missing information without setting off mental alarm bells. We were surprised to learn that there is a, but later found that this is a shell site being sold by a company called **Fabulous Domains.** Otherwise, there is a modest 220,000 hit count in Google for this typo.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Leprecaun (for Leprechaun)

Happy St. Patrick's Day from all of us on Team Typo. Leprecaun is a bonus word because it has not yet been added to the Main List of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at .
On a check this morning, there were three instances of the word in OhioLINK. All three records involved audiovisual works. This is not terribly surprising. The Library of Congress does not, apparently, catalog audio-visuals, so these records are usually added by member libraries of OCLC. Most libraries do not have the levels of quality control found in the Library of Congress, so we expect more trouble. On the whole, this is not a widespread error - in Google, the count of Leprecauns is less than 1 per cent of the count for the correct word. As always, we suggest that you check each record before making a correction.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Develom*, etc. (for Development)

Yesterday's typo has led to some further developments. After perusing the Ballard list, I discovered that there are a lot of different ways to misspell this word and its attendant forms. As usual, it seems, the "devel" is in the details. The following typos fall from up on "high" down to the "lowest" level of probability:


(This little devil, looking like he's still in development, is actually a detail from the Codex Gigas, or "Devil's Bible," the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world, and can be found in the public domain at Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Develope, etc. (for Develop)

The "jackalope" has long been a popular trope among pranksters, developing a variety of different looks along the way. The technical term for this cryptid is Wolpertinger. They usually have the body of a rabbit or other small mammal and what appear to be antlers (believed to be caused by the Shope papilloma virus). While these medical/mythical mysteries may have a "hare" too many appendages, who would have the "hart" to lop them off? However, that's just what you'll need to do to the third e in today's typo, which seems to be taking its cue from words like envelope and antelope. Where discouraging words are seldom heard in OhioLINK, I did find 37 samples of this one. In addition to Develope, you might also want to search for Developes and Developement* (I got 16 and 111 hits, respectively, including some seemingly misspelled French words and some with "[sic]" after them), but be careful when it comes to truncating this typo. Both developed and developer properly include that extra e. (Early drawing of Wolpertinger from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Picure* (for Picture)

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the word Picure* in OhioLINK is only worth seven. (An exploratory search of WorldCat, however, picks up 75 records containing the typos Picure, Picures, and Picuring.) There are ice picks, guitar picks, toothpicks, and picks of the week. There are pics we stick on walls and ones we attach to emails. And then there's that particular pick that dares not speak its name—furtive, illicit, and socially unacceptable. (As Seinfeld once put it, after being caught in an apparent pick at a traffic light: "I am not an animal!") Generally speaking, it's not a pretty picture. But when left in the hands of a child, even this one makes for a very cute pic. (Picture by photographer Steven Yang from the Dunhuang China website.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Billie Holliday (for Holiday)

Yesterday's typo featured Judy Holliday, who chose to spell her stage name like that in order not to be confused with the great torch singer Billie Holiday, whom she idolized. But, despite Holliday's best intentions, she apparently couldn't prevent—and may even have thereby added to—the confusion. Billie Holliday appears 19 times in OhioLINK (and Judy Holiday once). This could be owing to the fact that there are about a hundred times as many records involving Billie Holiday as Judy Holliday, combined with a tendency for those double "l"s in the singer's first name to consequently crop up again in the last. (Portrait of the artist as a young girl named Eleanora, whose childhood was no holiday, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 10, 2008

Judiasm (for Judaism)

Judy Holliday, whose given name was Judith Tuvim (which roughly translates to "holiday" in Hebrew), was born to Russian immigrant parents in New York City in 1921. As a relative unknown, she landed the lead in Born Yesterday after Katherine Hepburn and Garson Kanin wangled a supporting role for her in Adam's Rib, thus showcasing her talent to the suits who had originally wanted to give it to a better known bimbo. Judy took a busman's holiday of sorts when she was called to testify a couple years later before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee about her association with known Communists. Despite an IQ of 172, she pulled off her dumb blonde act to such dazzling effect that they let her go with just a warning. Although her dithering did not prevent her being briefly blacklisted on radio and TV (but not in films), she was able to avoid naming names. When asked whether books advocating treason and the forcible overthrow of the government ought to be disseminated, Holliday replied: "No, I don't, but I think that brings up the whole question of do you think that people ought to be allowed to say what they are thinking and write what they think. I think, and this is just a theory, that I think it is a lot better to know what people are stirring than to let them stew around subterraneanly." Judiasm turns up 14 times in OhioLINK and Judism twice.

(Picture from the the Judy Holliday Resource Center website.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 7, 2008

Catchin' some ZZZ's

zgreat or z-great (for "z Great" or "-- Great")

Today, being Friday, is a good day to catch some Z's at work! The Typo of the Day is another example of forgetting the subfield delimiter in front of the "z" geographic subdivision in subject headings. A search of OhioLINK found a few examples.
Searching as "zgreat" retrieved 3 records, all needing correction:

Stereotypes (Social psychology)zGreat Britain
China -- Relations -- zGreat Britain

Constitutional law zGreat Britain

Searching as "z great" or z-space-great retrieved 784 results--way too many to sift through, even on a Friday--I would be at risk for actually falling asleep. Changing the search key to "z-great" or z-hyphen-great retrieved 3 records--2 needing correction:

Prime ministers z Great Britain -- Biography
Harbors z Great Lakes (North America)

Have a great weekend!

Wendee Eyler

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Do it yourself!

Yourslef (for Yourself)

"If you want something done, do it yourself" is an often-said adage. If "yourslef" is in your catalog, you'll probably have to correct the typo yourself. "Yourslef" is in the Low Probability category of Terry Ballard's "Typographical Errors in Library Databases" website at
Medium to large libraries may find 2-7 instances of "yourslef."

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"X" marks the spot ... needing correction

x-Biography (for "x Biography" or "-- Biography")

Today's entry is not technically a typo--it's an omission. By omitting the MARC subfield code delimiter you will skew the retrieval of subject headings. Try typing in your search key as both "xbiography" (without a space or hyphen) and as "x-biography" (with a hyphen) and try with a space as well to find all those wrong entries. The different search keys will retrieve different results. You may be surprised to find a dollar sign was substituted for the subfield delimiter! Here are some examples:

Artists $z United States $x Biography

A search for "x-biography" results in this display:

Composers -- France -- x -- Biography

Note: Be on the lookout for "Malcolm X -- Biography"! "Malcolm X" is a correct entry!

Wendee Eyler

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Give me an "el"!!

Weeky (for Weekly)

Today's typo is another example of omission of the letter "el" within the word. The "k" and "l" keys are adjacent on the keyboard; the touch typist may sense "... maybe I already typed that 'l' … so I'll type the 'y' key now." Not too many typists have trouble correctly keying the "kly" in Weekly because you will have a low probability of finding "weeky" in your catalog. Most of the records will be continuing resources, such as this title found in OhioLINK: The Wall Street Journal/National Business Employment Weeky. WorldCat has a few good examples in the title field: Yank, the army weeky and Weeky crop bulletin.

Wendee Eyler

Monday, March 3, 2008

The "el" you say!

Vioin* (for Violin and Violins)

A sluggish finger causes the omission of the letter "el" in Violin. Violin must be typed in a steady staccato or you'll hit a sour note. Notice that all the letters in Violin except the initial "v" are typed with the right hand (for touch typists, anyway)--and the letters "o" and "l" are typed with the same exhausted finger.

"Vioin*" has a high probability of being in your own catalog. A recent check in OhioLINK retrieved 23 entries: 18 for "Vioin" (Violin) and 5 for "Vioins" (Violins).

Wendee Eyler