Friday, May 30, 2008

Ghandi, etc. (for Gandhi)

The annual Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are being televised tonight, appropriately enough, on ABC. A disproportionate number of champions (and competitors in general) recently have been children of Indian descent. Perhaps they're unusually adept at patience and concentration (see meditation) or maybe they're just used to long, hard-to-pronounce names (see Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons). Or maybe not. In the 2002 documentary Spellbound, one of the finalists, whose grandfather had hired 1,000 people to chant for him back in India, choked on the word Darjeeling. Mohandas K. Gandhi has a frequently misspelled name. There are 41 cases of Ghandi in OhioLINK, but only three when paired with Mohandas and eight when paired with Mahatma (which means "great soul"). There are 24 instances of Ghandhi, but only one with Mohandas and four with Mahatma. Gandi + Mahatma garners 12 hits and Gandi + Mohandas one. Most definitively, Gandhi and Ghandi appear together on nine records. It's important to realize that there are names properly spelled Ghandi, Ghandhi, Gandi, and Gandhy (12 established in NACO). The authority record for Gandhi himself lists 30 "see" references, two of which begin with the letters Gh. Apparently, Indira Gandhi's husband had the last name Gandhy, but she was persuaded to spell it Gandhi in order to create the impression that they were related to the Mahatma. Passive resistance in this case is futile. You'll have to look to the source to be sure you're spelling this one correctly. (Only known childhood picture of Gandhi, an uninspired student by all accounts, but an honest one once scolded by his teacher for refusing to copy the correct spelling of kettle off his neighbor's test before the British school inspector caught the error, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Databse*, etc. (for Database)

Wot's dat, another typo? The Ohio Library and Information Network's database is our source for determining the probability of typos: we then encode that data in the A-E sections of the Ballard list. The word database itself is found variously misspelled in OhioLINK, with 12 cases of Databse*, three of Datbase*, two of Datebase*, and one of Databaes*. Morse code, often vocalized with the sounds "dit" and "dah," was invented in the early 1840s by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail—a somewhat hapless but ingenious fellow who some hail as its true creator. Vail also felt slighted by another association with Morse, from which he wistfully disengaged, sounding a bit like a bridegroom who had set the date but then backed away: "I have made up my mind to leave the Telegraph to take care of itself, since it cannot take care of me. I shall, in a few months, leave Washington for New Jersey ... and bid adieu to the subject of the Telegraph...." Alfred's Ohio cousin Theodore Newton Vail, on the other hand, became the first president of AT&T, where he proved to be so monopoly-minded and business-oriented that his philosophy was known as "Vailism." (Picture of Alfred Vail from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Religon* (for Religion, etc.)

Found 44 times in OhioLINK, our typo of the day is Religon. Christopher Hitchens finds religion to be a relic, which he relishes ragging on relentlessly in an effort to relegate it to the dustbin of history. From Mother Theresa, whom he memorably once dubbed "the ghoul of Calcutta," to Gandhi (with a legacy he deems "dubious"), the Dalai Lama (whom he regards as a Hollywood groupie), and Mohammed (whose teachings he says are such a "hodgepodge" that they barely qualify as religion at all), Hitchens is an ecumenical disbeliever. His latest book title has a whiff of the jejune about it, as well as the pugilistic. "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" leaves little room for rebuttal or for dancing around the issue. Nevertheless, New York Times reporter Chris Hedges (with whom he could scarcely be confused, despite the similarity of their names) has responded to this salvo with a so-there book of his own, I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges calls Hitchens a "fundamentalist" and, while Hitch does seem to beg the question a bit, he has a lot of fun while doing it. (Picture of Hitchens from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eduction* (for Education, etc.)

In Leo Rosten's The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (variously written with and without caps and stars), our protagonist gets his induction [1. initiation] into the American Way of Life by way of an adult-education English class for immigrants. His idiosyncratic means of induction [2. inference of a generalized conclusion from particular instances] forms the rollicking basis for this comic novel about cultural assimilation published in 1937. However, you don't have to be Hyman to be human: Eduction* appears an impressive 116 times in OhioLINK. (Note that a few of these may be valid instances of the word eduction, which apparently is the same as deduction and the opposite of induction.) It's an education in humility. People say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover; in this case cover and content are equally Kaptivating.

Carol Reid

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memoral*, etc. (for Memorial)

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor our veterans. We should also remember the fact that many soldiers are profoundly anti-war. Wilfred Owen, who was born in England in 1893, is perhaps the best-known poet who ever lived—and tragically died—with his own excruciating, inextinguishable memories of war. His poetry vividly conveys the idea that war is immoral as well as immemorial. A database search produced seven results for Memoral*, two for Memmorial*, and one for Mmorial*. This might also be a good time to remind you that Momento (for memento) is a very common misspelling (putting aside the Spanish word for a "moment"). OhioLINK returned five hits on Momento* + Memento*. The word refers not to a fleeting moment in time, but rather to a way of remembering something. As Wilfred Owen memorably wrote in one of his oft-quoted poems about World War I:

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

Carol Reid

Friday, May 23, 2008

Enchanc* (for Enhance, etc.)

An Alaskan librarian with a "medium-small database" took a chance on this error found in a single video record and wrote in to report it. As it turned out she stumbled upon a goldmine. Its frequency was enhanced in OhioLINK to 77, making Enchanc* a "high probability" typo and a rather enchanting one, at least to those of us inclined to find spelling blunders spellbinding. (This quirky illustration from Wikimedia Commons is called "Lézard Enchanteur" and has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it charmingly apt for our typo of the day. Enchanté. Thanks, Kristine!)

Carol Reid

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Comupter* (for Computer)

Today's typo Comupter* comes up eight times in OhioLINK, giving new meaning to the phrase "our computers are down." (We also found a handful for Comuter* and Coputer*.) As Mae West, compact queen of the compelling come-on, once said, we used to be "snow white," but then we "drifted." It's the same way with words. West had little compunction admitting that comeliness mostly comprises maintenance. (She maintained hers with bottled water, cold cream and, one can only assume, sheer force of will.) So come on now, avoid getting a comeuppance and correct those computer errors while you're still young. We can always come up with more. (World Telegram photo of Mae West on a return home from Hollywood in 1933, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hous (for House)

Hammering away at the building theme for one more day, Eric Hodgins' 1946 fictional memoir Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is one of the flat-out funniest books I've ever read. And it isn't a bad film either, cast with the dream-team threesome Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas. Jonathan Yardley hits the nail on the head in this description from the Washington Post: "City rubes taken to the cleaners by country slickers." Hous + House turns up 69 records in OhioLINK, and Hous + Congress 57. Which, in thousands of dollars, is about what Messrs. Hodgins and Blandings eventually ended up spending on that "dream house" in Connecticut. Note that nearly half of those spellings look antiquated (like the house Mr. B. originally wanted to buy, not build). One or two hits apiece for Housig, Housiing, and Huose as well. (Cover art for Mr. Blandings by William Steig.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Buidl*, Buidi* (for Building, etc.)

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. And following humbly on the heels of yesterday's typo, today's is about a home that's like no place on earth. The Buid are a tribe of about 4,000 people who live in the highlands of Mindoro Island in the Philippines. "Since each speaker is always an individual and the listeners are a group, they avoid interpersonal clashes of wills, confrontations, and competition. However, it is impossible to tell if the six Buid in this picture are considering work proposals or if they are just enjoying the view." My grandfather was a builder who would often enlist the help of his own six-member brood with various work proposals. He would also enjoin the grandkids on Sunday drives (no doubt in part to "avoid interpersonal clashes of wills," but also because he was an artist at heart) to look at the scenery while riding in the car. Buidl* shows up 24 times in OhioLINK, and Buidi* 13 times. (A snapshot of serene scenery from the Peaceful Societies website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 19, 2008

Achitect* (for Architect, etc.)

My grandfather, great-uncle, and uncle were all architects and house builders. Consequently, I now occupy a little bungalow built by my mother's father in 1928. Although I often feel a bit cramped within its cozy confines, it's both comforting and confounding to consider that a family of seven lived here in relative harmony for nearly twenty years (the eighth member politely postponing his arrival until his father could erect a slightly larger dwelling in the suburbs). Achitect* appears 19 times in OhioLINK, making it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. (Eighty-year-old playing cards and paper doll found behind the baseboards of my living room. Ach! as my German forebears would say.)

Carol Reid

P.S. I was mistaken about the Eighth Member, who it turns out was fully four when the family moved. He clearly remembers running around outside, tripping, and spilling his Hopalong Cassidy cookies into the open foundation of the new house.

Friday, May 16, 2008

San Fransisco (for San Francisco)

San Fransisco (for San Francisco)

There are as many ways to misspell San Francisco as there are grains of rice and vermicelli in Rice-A-Roni. (The San Francisco treat!) Rudyard Kipling said "San Francisco has only one drawback: 'Tis hard to leave." Kipling should amend that to include "and hard to spell correctly!"

My thanks to Jeffrey Beall for collaborating with me this week, selecting the Typo of the Day words and several of the pictures used in the blog.

Wendee Eyler

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seperate (for Separate)

Seperate (for Separate)

I have a 50/50 chance of spelling Separate as "Seperate." I've come up with a chant for myself to help decide how to spell it: "the a's separate the e's." Another [that I often forget] is: there's "a rat" in separate. Rote memorization isn't working for me. I can console myself in that I am not alone. Library catalogs have a high probability of this typo. A recent check of OhioLINK had 61 entries for "Seperate"--with many of the titles showing "… seperate [sic]" especially for the 17th and 18th century titles on microfilm. This particular typo has been around for centuries and will persist far into the future. Be sure to try truncating the typo as "Seperat*" to find dozens more typos!

Jeffrey's selection for the picture to accompany "Seperate" is so cool!

The caption for this photo found on Flickr is "Siamese Bread Twins - Separated." This is an idea from a Delhaize supermarket: white bread and whole-grain baked into one loaf. Easy to separate, very tasty, and organic, too.

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Recieve (for Receive)

Recieve (for Receive)

Surprisingly, the typo "Recieve" retrieved only 9 hits in OhioLINK. Truncating the typo as "Reciev*" found 60 results. Truncating even more to "Recie" retrieved over a hundred results. I was curious to see if any American English words actually begin with "Recie." Using online sources and my own hardbound copy of American Heritage Dictionary, I found only one "Recie" entry--the acronym RECIEL, which stands for "Review of European Community and International Environmental Law."

I was curious to see what accompanying picture Jeffrey would supply for "Recieve" … ah! … 'Tis better to give than to receive. Today's picture (from Flickr) is titled "Christmas Gifts Arriving Early," showing a street scene from Manhattan with packages arriving just in time to give and receive.

Wendee Eyler

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Misssion (for Mission)

Misssion (for Mission)

Jeffrey's selection of "Misssion" made me think immediately of "Mission: Impossible," the TV show from the sixties. I was such a faithful fan! Couldn’t wait to see the tape spinning in the huge tape recorder, hear what the next top-secret assignment would be, wonder if the agent would chose to accept, and then watch the tape catch fire and go up in smoke. What state-of-the-art technology! We may chuckle about 1960s technology and special effects--but technology for finding typos in online catalogs has not advanced much. Until our online catalogs begin to highlight or identify typos in bibliographic records, we will continue to find typos the old-fashioned way, by looking for them, and making those manual corrections one-by-one. Should you choose to accept this challenge and seek out the typo "Misssion" in your catalog, you may find you have very few entries to correct.

Wendee Eyler

Monday, May 12, 2008

Guatamala (for Guatemala)

Guatamala (for Guatemala)Jeffrey Beall from the University of Colorado Denver and a member of the Libtypos group has selected five words from his list of the ten original typos he used when he created the "Dirty Database Test" back in 1991. This was the true beginning for finding and correcting typographical errors in online catalogs. He supplied many of the photos to accompany the blog entries for this week. The typo "Guatamala" is interesting because the cause is most likely faulty spelling rather than a finger blunder. For many American English speakers there is such a subtle distinction for the pronunciation of the "e" in Guat-e-mala that some assume the correct letter is "a." Most library catalogs have a high probability of this typo.

Today's entry includes a gorgeous picture of the Volcan de Agua and the Santa Catalina convent arch in Antigua, Guatemala.

Wendee Eyler

Friday, May 9, 2008

Rocester (for Rochester)

Rocester is spelled correctly (according to the Library of Congress authority file, but not the somewhat error-prone Columbia Gazetteer of the World) for the town in England, in two out of six occurrences in OhioLINK. But the other four are definitely typos for Rochester, New York—which, by the way, has the interesting distinction of being known as both the "Flower City" and the "Flour City"! While seeking out other misspellings for the word Rochester, I was a bit surprised by the two hits I got: references not to a place, but rather to the words orchestra and orchestral. This typo is of a certain kind that we occasionally see in which the first letter of a word is missing. (It also occurs sometimes with the final letter.) This may be due to a filing-indicator problem (if the search is done in browse mode), but is more likely the result of simple haste. Take time to spell and smell the flowers (Rochester's Lilac Festival is May 9-18 this year) and please have a cookie. (I made them myself.)

Carol Reid

Errata: I must apologize to the Columbia Gazetteer of the World, which is correct in spelling the Rochester in Kent, England, with an h. There is also a Rocester in Staffordshire, spelled without the h, but it's unlisted. This brings the number of typos found in the gazetteer down to a more forgiveable one: "Southhampton," a town in Long Island, New York, which also has an h, but only one.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pillip*, Philiip*, etc. (for Philip*, Phillip*)

Simon and Garfunkel wrote "A Simple Desultory Philippic" as a sort of slap at Bob Dylan, or the cult of Dylan at any rate, and I suppose that TotDfL is a "simple desultory philippic" of sorts as well. Desultory means random, disconnected, jumping from one thing to another (which is something we do day to day, if not line by line) and philippic is a bitter verbal attack (although surely we're more nitpicky than bitter and more on a bit of a crusade than an all-out attack). Like a couple of incipient folksingers in a sea of Cleveland seniors, the following names jump out at us like a bunch of off-key notes: Pillip* (12 times—interesting aside: actress Rhea Perlman has written six books for kids about "Otto Pillip" and his palindromic ways), Philiip* and Phllip* (11 times), Philliip* (twice), and Phiilip* (once). A quick glance at the keyboard suggests these may occur because the L and I are sitting so close together, and not that far from the P and H. (Early snapshot of Paul and Art sitting in with Don Webster in the Upbeat audience, from the Cleveland Seniors website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Reort* (for Report*)

"Ornament, Ornament, wherefore ort thou, Ornament?" the Bard of Avon might have asked in a slightly garbled but self-satirizing moment. To which one could only retort: "Why not?" I love words for things you never even suspected there was a word for. An ort, so it seems, is "the snippet of thread left over in the needle after finishing a section of embroidery" (from an obsolete Dutch word meaning "a scrap or fragment of food left from a meal") and a former librarian has found a rather festive way to recycle hers. She's resorted to stuffing them inside a Christmas tree ornament. I know it's only May, it may not be orthodox, and it's certainly not orthogonal—but if you start now, you'll have something different to display in December. Reort* is reported to be found 17 times (plus one "sic") in OhioLINK, making it a typo of "high probability" on the Ballard list. (Picture of an "Ort Port" from

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Metamop*, etc. (for Metamorphosis)

One of the first term papers I ever wrote in high school was, for some reason, about Franz Kafka and, after discovering his letters and diaries and overall métier of "troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal and bureaucratic world" (Wikipedia), I've had a soft spot in my heart for him ever since. (And another Kafka cockle just got warmer upon realizing he was born on the same day as my book-revering grandmother, twenty years earlier.) The work most of us were required to read at a time when many of us felt quite a lot like large grotesque bugs ourselves was The Metamorphosis, and the following typos for that word appear in OhioLINK as follows: Metamop* (12 times), Metmorph* (five), and Metomorph*, Metemorph*, and Metamorpo* (one time each).

(A mop-haired young Franz, before metamorphosing into a moping one—a common caricature of Kafka—from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sidney (for Sydney) and vice versa

A reader wrote to tell me about the typo Sidney for Sydney, Australia, which is a hard one to pin down. Sidney + Australia brings up 71 records in OhioLINK, but only a handful include this typo. A more productive approach is to search on Sidney + Sydney, which gets 127 hits, the majority of which seem to involve misspellings of personal names. Sylvia Sidney, born August 8, 1910, was that rare seeming anomaly, a retiring Leo (who took up film acting in order to overcome shyness), along with being a lifelong smoker who was also the stepdaughter of a dentist. She was married three times, often quite briefly; her husbands included the "Famous Writers School" instructor Bennett Cerf and the famous acting coach Luther Adler. When she wasn't playing the demure Madame Butterfly, she flocked to grittier roles, such as the female lead in Fury, Fritz Lang's first American film. Like those of us here at TotDfL, Sidney seemed to enjoy taking the wrinkles out of messy situations. She says, "I'd be the girl of the gangster ... then the sister who was bringing up the gangster ... then the mother of the gangster ... and they always had me ironing somebody's shirt." (Picture of Sylvia Sidney, who managed to keep her own Y's and I's straight, along with her many dramatic roles, courtesy of a lovely blog called Allure. And check out her contemporary, Sidney Fox, while you're in there. Silky and sylphlike in flapper attire and cloche. Note to today's fashionistas: Women have never looked so fetching.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photgraph*, etc. (for Photograph*)

A phot is a "unit of illuminance, or luminous flux through an area." And while I'm not exactly sure what that means, this pretty photo looks pretty photty to me. The typo Photgraph* shines through a full 50 times in OhioLINK, along with 19 cases of Phtogr* and seven of Potograph*. (An astute reader has also found the highest count of all with 53 hits in Photograh*.) Given the magnitude of these typos, which are no doubt caused by the proximity of the T and G keys, as well as the P and O keys, it's a shame we can't just take a picture of the word we want and then develop it online. Of course, that's essentially what "copy and paste" is, a handy means of transcription that can be a real time saver when a word occurs repeatedly throughout a record, although it's been known to multiply the number of typos as well as to reduce them. (Photograph from the art journal Phot' Art International.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chicgo, etc. (for Chicago)

I'm not trying to give anyone a dressing-down here, but the following typos show up in OhioLINK anywhere from one to five times apiece: Chicgo, Chiago, Chicao, Cicago, Chicaog, Chichago, Chiacgo, and Chicaggo. All of which remind me that Chicago is home to the ultra-chic ALA, the go-to group for all things librarian. And despite some dog-eared dogma to the contrary, librarians in their way are among the most stylish of go-getters. It appears, in fact, that even non-librarians, if they've done their research or simply have the knack for looking smart, can acquire the label librarian chic—which Word Spy defines as "a fashion style that uses elements of, or is inspired by, the styles stereotypically attributed to librarians." (Pictured to the right is an example so designated from Scott Schuman's blog The Sartorialist, "selected as one of Time Magazine's Top 100 Design Influencers.")

Carol Reid