Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pennsly*, Pennsyv* (for Pennsylvania)

Being such a historic—not to mention sylvan—state, it's only natural that there would be many mentions of Pennsylvania, and therefore many typos for it, in our library OPACs. The OhioLINK database contains 46 occurrences of Pennsly* and 17 of Pennsyv*, making them "high probability" typos on the Ballard list. Don't be pensive and let these slide by. (Picture of Sly Lake, Pennsylvania, from the Rebel Photography website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Inlud*, etc. (for Include)

There was a time when using a typewriter would cast you as being on the cutting edge of technology. But today you would undoubtedly be typecast as a hopeless Luddite. Inlud* appears 17 times in OhioLINK and is thus included in the "high probability" section of the Ballard list. Inlcud* gives us something to chew on too, showing up an additional 17 times. We found ten instances of Incuding and five of Incuded (two of which were typos for induced) as well. So honk if you like typing. Create your own in-crowd. You can even call it a clique if you like. (Cover illustration from Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.)

P.S. Right after composing this entry, I saw an item in the paper about a new keyboard that mimics the sound and feel of a typewriter. But without the inky ribbon, jammed typebars, and little bottle of Wite-Out at the ready, it just wouldn't be the same now, would it?

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enland, etc. (for England)

Enland occurs nine times in OhioLINK (one contains the error in the original), along with a few instances each of Egland, Englnd, and Egnland. The one misspelling we didn't find for the erstwhile ruler of the British Isles was Eland, but you might have better luck. It reminds me of the definition for the word eland (meaning a large African antelope) supplied by my seven-year-old nephew during a recent game of Balderdash: "An E-shaped island." (Photograph of Egg Island, from the Halifax Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fron (for From)

The most common typo for me to make is the substitution of one article, pronoun, preposition, or other small word for another: an for at, his for him, it for is, etc. Unfortunately, most of these are impossible to track in the usual way, being legitimate words if and on—or rather in and of—themselves. Today's typo is, for the most part (there's a smattering of proper names and foreign words mixed in there as well), a misspelling of the preposition from, appearing 204 times in OhioLINK. Fron might also be a typo for the word front. (Flan, nicely prepped and positioned toward the front, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, July 25, 2008

Musican (for Musician)

During his extended period of living in Europe, Mark Twain once attended the grand opera, and someone made the mistake of asking him how he liked it. "There were sounds, the likes of which have not been heard since the night the orphanage burned down." A more modern music critic, Yogi Berra, was asked the same question under similar circumstances. "That was great. I even liked the music." Musican follows the well-known path of a missing 'I' at the end of a long word. It is found on the C, or Moderate
Probability, section of Typographical errors in library databases at . This means that it had between 8 and 15 hits in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. We checked this morning and found 13. Also, there were 92 hits in WorldCat.
Today's photograph shows the grave of Jazz Legend Louis Armstrong at the Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York. The original can be seen at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daivd (for David)

"Wherever we go in this great land of ours, we've found that people everywhere are 90% water," according to David Letterman. Daivd is an unusual typo for this group because it is an inverted letter in a very short word, and it looks obviously wrong. That doesn't stop it from appearing on the B, or high probability section of Typographical errors in library databases at In Google, there are fewer than 200,000 daivds. However, there are more than 300 of them in WorldCat, which helps to explain the high placement. As with all inverted letter typos, the offending letters are on opposite sides of the keyboard, leading to left brain/right brain implications.

Today's photo shows the Ed Sullivan Theater, where David Letterman presents his Top Ten Lists each weeknight. The original can be found at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Universty (for University)

"I left the university as I entered it - fired with enthusiasm." This came from Clark Kerr, who was Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley during the free speech controversies. Once again we go to the well to find a typo that consists of a missing 'I' at the end of a long word. In this case, the typo is on the A list, meaning that it was found more than 100 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. We looked this morning and found that there were more than 170 hits for Universty in OhioLINK, but fewer than that in WorldCat. If this is not present in your catalog, then someone is doing a good job. Even if it is there, it could be due to the fact that the typo was in the original, marked with a 'sic.' For that reason, we always urge librarians to check before making a change.

Today's photograph shows the dining hall at Christ Church College in Oxford University. If the room looks familiar, that may be due to the fact that it was used as a location in the Harry Potter films. The original can be found at .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Englsh (for English)

One of our favorite New Yorker cartoons (decades old) shows a young man at a cocktail party speaking with an older gentleman and explaining "I'm really into, like, you know, the English language." Depending on your age and point of view, the language is either evolving or going down the tubes. We are amazed when we hear radio announcers saying something like "The President will speak in a half hour from now." Englsh is a classic case of a missing vowel typo, and it is found on the C, or moderate probability, section of Typographical errors in library databases at , meaning that it was found at least 8 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery.
Today's photograph shows a pub in the Chelsea section of London - a pleasant thing to consider during a heat wave. The original can be found at

Friday, July 18, 2008

Equiptment (for Equipment)

There were six cases of Equiptment in OhioLINK the other day, which makes it a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list, if somehow an understandable one. (I'm not trying to be funny here, but perhaps it's the word quipped that prompts us to hear a T in there.) I have a coworker who collects varieties of his favorite piece of office equipment, the lowly paper clip. I don't know how he feels about the lofty public art with which we're also well equipped, but at Wikimedia Commons I found this example of both those things in one: "Giant paper clip at BI Commercial College near Oslo."

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Concensus (for Consensus)

Thirty-nine hits in OhioLINK ranks Concensus as a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list, the reason apparently being the consensus among certain spellers that it contains the word census. In fact, the word consensus comes from the Latin word consent. Census is also a Latin word and means "registration of citizens," from censere, "to assess." (Image of the Census Bureau seal from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ramdom, Ramdon (for Random)

The letters N and M in a given word sometimes appear to be randomly placed, resulting a wide array of typos. Today's is an example of this sort of mixup, attributable to the contiguous placement of these two letters on the keyboard. Ramdom occurs 12 times in OhioLINK, and Ramdon five times. Not to ram this one down your throat—since we must always watch our P's and Q's when correcting another person's mistakes—but remember to watch your M's and N's as well. (Picture of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ram Dass from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Proceedur* (for Procedure, etc.)

Run, don't walk—or shall we say proceed in an orderly fashion—to the nearest moviehouse showing Errol Morris' new documentary about the Abu Ghraib scandal, Standard Operating Procedure. Critic Roger Ebert has called Morris' Gates of Heaven one of the ten best movies ever made. There are 27 hits for Proceedur* in OhioLINK, making this a "high probability" typo. (Photo of Erroll Morris engaged in his own SOP, from the Adobe Design Center website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, July 14, 2008

Humanties (for Humanities)

As we learn more and more about our ties to other primates, nobody really seems quite sure just what it is that makes us human—though linguists, anthropologists, and assorted postmodernists are giving it the old college try. Humanties appears 33 times in OhioLINK, thereby evolving into a "high probability" typo. Numerous variants can be found on the Ballard list as well. (Herm├Ęs ties for humans, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mississipi (for Mississippi)

"What would we say if the Chinese sent a gunboat with their marines up the Mississippi River claiming they were protecting their laundries in Memphis?" This question was posed by Will
Rogers quite some time ago. We were surprised to find that a typo for Mississippi has never been covered in these pages, even though there are quite a few examples in Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . Mississipi is found on the B, or High Probability list. This is borne out by a check of WorldCat, which shows more than 1000 hits for the error. It is a classic typo with a missing letter at the end of a long word. My mother learned the correct spelling of Mississippi as a song, in the same way that those of us who grew up in the 1950's learned the spelling of encyclopedia from a cricket.

Today's photograph shows boat traffic on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The original can be found at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Soliders (for Soldiers)

"I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers." So wrote the old soldier,
William Tecumseh Sherman, who had an axe to grind with reporters on the best of days. Sherman was best known for his unambiguous disinterest in running for higher office and the quote "War is Hell," so it was a special treat to find his thoughts on typographical errors. Soliders is found on the B, or high probability list in Typographical errors in Library Databases at

. We assume this to be an inverted letter typo for soldiers, but there is an outside chance it could be an added vowel typo for solders. Because of this ambiguity, it is important to check each record before making a correction. The typo is present in more than 300 records in WorldCat. To prove how universal these problems are, we found soliders in the catalogs of the National Library of Australia and Oxford University.
Today's illustration is of the Green-Meldrim house, Sherman's headquarters after his bloodless takeover of Savannah. The original can be found at .

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stockmarket (for Stock Market)

"The market, like the Lord, helps those who help themselves. But unlike the Lord, the market does not forgive those who know not what they do," according to Warren Buffett. This was found at a site called "Trading Wisdom" at, which also has a number of anonymous quotes such as the all-time classic "Buy low and sell high," and our favorite: "Buy from the scared. Sell to the greedy." Stockmarket is found on the C, or moderate probability section of the site "Typographical errors in library databases," at . A check of WorldCat this morning showed more than 500 hits for stockmarket. We double-checked the Oxford English Dictionary, but could find no evidence that stockmarket is a legitimate variant spelling. Even so, we suspect that many of these titles have the typo in the original, so extra care should be used in correcting this one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Temperment (for Temperament)

"When angry count to ten. When very angry, swear." This timely advice came to us more than a hundred years ago from Mark Twain. The typo temperment is found on the B, or high probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at, meaning that it was found at least 16 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Missing vowels are the most typical form of typo to be found in an OPAC, but temperament is also a word that people aren't sure how to spell. Evidence of this can be found in Google, where temperment is present in almost a million web pages. By way of comparison, temperament is in 10 million sites. We cannot stress this enough - check each individual record before you make a change. There is always the chance that the typo was in the original and an alert cataloger marked this with a "sic."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Anahiem (for Anaheim)

"Disneyland is a people trap run by a mouse." We tried in vain to find the wag who first came up with this quote, so we will just have to salute you, whoever you are. In any case, Anaheim is a company town as much as Hershey, Pennsylvania, and big enough to survive the surge of 20,000 librarians arriving for the American Library Association convention last week. We found this city to be much more conference-friendly than its Florida counterpart because most of the main conference hotels are within a mile of the convention center and the main Disney gates. This inverted letter typo is found on the D, or Low Probability, list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases - found on the web at As always, the most accurate predictor of a typo is the count in WorldCat. This morning there were only 12 Anahiems, so the real probability is even lower than our listing would suggest.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rvolution*, etc. (for Revolution, Revolutionary)

You say you want a revolution. Well, you know, we all want to change the world. But, in the meantime, we may have to content ourselves with simply changing some of the access points for the world's great store of literature. We found a revolting, if coincidental, 76 instances of Rvolution* in OhioLINK (augmented to 78 over the past couple days), with Revoltion* (ten) and Revlution* (three) bringing up the rear. Go Fourth today and multiply the number of records in your catalog that are proud to be typo-free. (Photo of Pacific Palisades fireworks display, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yates (for Yeats)

On the preteen heels of my godchild's birthday comes the birthday today of my own godmother and namesake, my maternal grandmother. Still waters ran wonderfully deep in her. She loved books, gardening, and books about gardening. Her favorite poet was William Butler Yeats, who wrote the following poem found in a copy of his collected works I collected from her house shortly after she died:


Where, where but here have Pride and Truth,
That long to give themselves for wage,
To shake their wicked sides at youth
Restraining reckless middle-age?

Like many geniuses, it seems, Yeats's academic record was unremarkable at best. An early report card grades his performance as: "Only fair. Perhaps better in Latin than in any other subject. Very poor in spelling." There seem to be about a dozen typos for Yeats + Yates in OhioLINK (not all of them referring to W.B.). As usual, you should exercise caution with proper names, which can often be spelled in a variety of ways.

(Drawing of William Butler Yeats by John Singer Sargent, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twleve (for Twelve)

My too-lovely niece is turning twelve today, which makes it an auspicious year in (eleven) more ways than one. There are 16 hits for Twleve in OhioLINK, nudging it into the "high probability" category on the Ballard list. The word twelve comes from the German twa-lif or "two-leave," meaning you have two left over after taking away the base (ten). The number twelve figures prominently into a number of religions, calendars, and units of time. A "baker's dozen" is actually thirteen of a thing, and Lillian Gilbreth, the efficiency expert who gave birth to the brood embodied in the book and movie Cheaper by the Dozen, was born 130 years ago, or a full baker's dozen times ten. Wikipedia refers to twelve as both "sublime" and "semiperfect" and I can't imagine a better way of describing our Birthday Girl as well. Many (if not precisely twelve) happy returns of the day, sweetheart! (Gaggle of Gilbreths, from the TV Fan Forum website.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summery, Summeries (for Summary, Summaries)

The word Summery is correctly spelled in some settings, but badly misspelled in others. OhioLINK yields 31 instances of "summery," 17 of them being the right way to spell a word that's on the minds of many a New Yorker today as the mercury climbs into the 80s. (Actually, 12 are for a song title by Samuel Barber entitled "The Queen's Face on the Summery Coin.") The database also contains 13 records with Summeries, which is in every case a typo. In summary, don't let wondering what the weather outside is like distract you. It's definitely summery. (Idyllic image of Sweden in summer, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid