Thursday, April 30, 2009

Purchs* (for Purchase, etc.)

On this date in 1803, the United States signed a treaty with France to purchase the Louisiana Territory. This bargain land acquisition doubled the size of the young nation and eventually became the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming (all or in part).

Purchs* is a lowest-probability typo with only 1 result in OhioLINK. There are, however, a fair number in WorldCat, including one for a musical play about the Louisiana Purchase.

Louisiana became the 18th state on this same day in 1812.

(Map showing the Louisiana Purchase, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Secuir*, Secuit* (for Security, etc.)

Videoed on the subway
reading the news and then
walking along the high street
videoed once again
Waiting for a bus in Stockwell
cameras on my back
Suddenly hearing sirens
sounding a panic attack

Hey, hey
Don't ask me how
We've changed
We're all criminals now

Pet Shop Boys
“We're All Criminals Now”

Domestic wiretapping of average Americans in the wake of 9/11. A proposed “Big Brother” database to monitor telephone calls, e-mail, and Internet activity in the UK. Small German towns blocking Google’s efforts to photograph houses for its Street View mapping program. It’s a difficult task to achieve the proper balance between public security and individual privacy in our world today.

Fortunately, it’s not nearly so troublesome to find and correct errors like Secuir* and Secuit*. Both are typos of low probability on the Ballard list, with 2 and 6 entries in OhioLINK, respectively. Most are in transcribed fields.

(Surveillance cameras, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clarenden (for Clarendon)

Clarendon, Arkansas is the seat of Monroe County and is located in the southeast quadrant of the Natural State. It also sits at the mouth of the Cache River, for which the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge is named. The refuge made headlines on April 28, 2005, when a team of scientists led by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology announced sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct. Of course, this claim has been challenged by other researchers, and the debate continues today.

Clarenden is listed as a high-probability typo. There are 27 entries in OhioLINK, mostly in connection with Clarendon Press. It will take a bit of effort resolve these errors in your own catalog, as they’re likely to occur in transcribed fields.

(Campephilus principalis, published in Jacob Henry Studer's The Birds of North America, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, April 27, 2009

Andthe (for And The)

Today’s typo reminds me of those boxes with nonsense words I see nowadays when creating an online account. This security device actually has a name: CAPTCHA, which was coined by some smart folks at Carnegie Mellon University and stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart.” Currently, the school’s reCAPTCHA project helps digitize books by enlisting humans to decipher words that optical character recognition (OCR) cannot.

Andthe for the words and the is a typo of moderate probability on the Ballard list. There are 19 entries in the OhioLINK database, and perhaps some in your very own catalog to solve.

(An example of CAPTCHA, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, April 24, 2009

Audobon (for Audubon)

They say German motorists really fly on the Autobahn, but nobody has ever captured birds in flight like the painter and ornithologist John James Audubon, who was born in Haiti on April 26, 1851. He was the illegitimate son of a French naval officer and his Louisiana Creole mistress. Audubon was a bit of an autodidact and credits his father with igniting his primary passion in life: "He would point out the elegant movement of the birds, and the beauty and softness of their plumage. He called my attention to their show of pleasure or sense of danger, their perfect forms and splendid attire..." There are 15 hits in OhioLINK for Audobon, which appears to be another one of those typos that stem from a word's similarity to another word or the way it tends to be pronounced. Audubon's attention to detail was clearly very pronounced and we would all do well to pay similar attention to the spelling of his name.

(Painting by John James Audubon, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Consit* (for Constitution*, Constituen*, Consist*)

Bernie Madoff is a con man who currently sits in prison—hence the shadowy shot to the right—but I'd really like to talk about something else today. The new Resource Description & Access "Constituency Review" begins: "Below and available for comment are Chapters and Appendices in PDF format comprising the November 2008 full draft of RDA." This is a misuse of the word comprising and yet an extremely common one. However, once you learn its true meaning, you too can play a game I've now become quite adept at (spotting incorrect uses of comprise, which often seem to occur more frequently than correct ones), although please understand it won't make you any friends. In a nutshell: the whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole. Or, even easier, simply remember that comprise means "consist of." So to say, for example, that X is "comprised of" Y is to say that X is "consisted of of" Y. Which doesn't make any sense. There are 138 instances of Consit* in OhioLINK, but most appear to be typos for constitution* or, to a lesser degree, constituen*. A search on Consit* + Consist* brings up three records. This result comprises bibliographic records containing the following typos: "consitently"; "consitency"; and "consits."

(Bernie Madoff at the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan, posted by Red Carlisle to Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eviro* (for Enviro*)

Eviro is the first-person singular present tense of evirare, which means "to emasculate" in Italian. There are 55 cases of Eviro* today in OhioLINK, making it a very likely typo for oft-used words like environment. The most famous of emasculated Italians, of course, were the castrati, who largely flourished (if that can be the right word for it) during the mid-18th century. Some castrati were truly talented singers; others, desperate or striving, somewhat less so. They were hugely popular among the masses and resultantly, if reluctantly, embraced by the critics and guardians of public morality and sexual rectitude. More legitimate concerns involved the coercion and cruelty inherent in the process of producing such boy wonders. Alessandro Moreschi is the "Last Castrato" and the only one of whom there is an extant recording, made at the Vatican around 1902. Castrati, who were both homosexual and heterosexual, did not carry signs proclaiming "Evirato and Proud" and were generally regarded as environmental disasters to be avoided in polite society. Modern audiences are hard-pressed to appreciate Moreschi's voice as anything more than a novelty, although some believe him to have been greatly gifted.

(Picture of Alessandro Moreschi from the New Statesman.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Syndron*, Symdrom*, Sydrom* (for Syndrome)

"Peter Pan Syndrome" is what some people call it when grown men go on forever acting like little boys. It can include fear of commitment, fear of the household chores, fear of coming home on time, and fear of the bath. (It's an old story, but somehow it's a lot cuter when J.M. Barrie tells it.) In the 1911 children's classic Peter Pan—firstly and more feministly entitled Peter and Wendy—Peter refuses to age appropriately and join the ranks of the synthetic drones otherwise known as adults. To many of Barrie's contemporaries, it was "A Sin to Tell a Lie" and Peter Pan regarded growing up as a most egregious one. But he wasn't the only one in the book who felt that way, at least a little bit. Our tale begins with Wendy and her mother in the garden, where the girl hears her wistfully sigh: "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" "This," adds the author, "was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end." There are 17 cases of Sydrom* in OhioLINK, 12 of Symdrom*, and four of Syndron*. Peter gets top billing here, but it's been said that Barrie actually invented the name of his heroine (it appears a rather saccharine-seeming child who'd formed an attachment to the writer once referred to him as her "fwendy" or "fwendy-wendy") and it's certain that he popularized it, although there's evidence the name had been in some use prior to that time.

(James Matthew Barrie, 1901, photograph in the public domain.)

Carol Reid

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ammendment* (for Amendment*)

Judith Krug, the ALA icon who founded the Office for Intellectual Freedom in 1967, died on April 11, 2009. A matchless crusader for freedom of speech, her death has struck many in the library community speechless. Krug was director of the OIF and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation for over forty years. She was also the founder of Banned Books Week and the recipient of numerous awards, most recently including the William J. Brennan Jr. Award for her "remarkable commitment to the marriage of open books and open minds." Krug is often quoted as saying, "Censorship dies in the light of day" and, despite her own passing, will continue to be a beacon of light to all those who cherish the freedoms granted us by the First Amendment. Though it's a paltry gesture in the face of her lifetime achievement, let's honor Judy Krug's memory today by helping improve access to records containing the word amendment*. There are 39 hits on Ammendment* in OhioLINK and too many to count in WorldCat.

(Judith Krug from the website

Carol Reid

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bannana* (for Banana, etc.)

Last June, Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times entitled “Yes, We Will Have No Bananas.” In it, he discusses the political and economic circumstances that allowed this exotic fruit to become an inexpensive staple of the American diet. But more interesting–and alarming–is the fact that bananas might someday disappear from our tables. It seems that the single Cavendish variety cultivated and sold worldwide today is vulnerable to an emerging strain of the disease that killed off Gros Michel, the banana of our great-grandparents’ generation.

Bannana* is a low-probability typo with 7 entries in OhioLINK. One is for the musical group “Bannana Farmers” and is definitely not an error. The remainder are song titles, at least one of which also looks to be correct.

(Bananas by Steve Hopson, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Elixer (for Elixir)

The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Sorcerer’s Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal.

J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In the very first Harry Potter book, we find our young hero trying to adapt to life in a world he never knew existed, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As if that weren’t enough, in his spare time he has to prevent You-Know-Who (even if Harry doesn’t) from getting his hands on the magical Sorcerer’s Stone and thereby attaining the Elixir of Life.

Elixer is a typo of moderate probability on the Ballard list and has 14 entries in the OhioLINK catalog. Alas, correcting such errors will not make you immortal!

(“Gold” by bubor, from the Stock.XCHNG photo site)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Revunue (for Revenue)

If you haven't already filed your tax return (or requested an extension), then the Internal Revenue Service will want to hear from you today.

Revunue appears once in OhioLINK, and there are only 5 occurrences in WorldCat. That's a small number, but who wants to mess with the IRS at tax time?

(Internal Revenue Service seal, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guniea (for Guinea)

I have a clear memory of the first time that, as a child, I ever saw guinea fowl. They were strange and fascinating creatures, and I just knew I had to have some. Unfortunately, my parents had other ideas.

Where I live now, there's a small flock just down the hill, and most evenings I see them on my way home from work. I still love their beautiful plumage and the silly racket they make when approached.

Guniea appears just one time in OhioLINK, but there are 78 entries in WorldCat. Nearly all are typos for "New Guinea," with a couple instances of "guniea pig." But there are actually none for "gunieas," "guniea fowl," or "gunieafowl," which means poultry lovers should have no trouble locating a copy of Gardening with Guineas: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl on a Small Scale.

(Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris), from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bethleham*, Bethelhem (for Bethlehem)

Bethlehem, PA is the home of Just Born, manufacturer of the ubiquitous Easter Peeps. It’s also an easy word to misspell. Bethleham* brings up 10 entries in OhioLINK and is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. Bethelhem, on the other hand, is a "lowest probability" typo with 1 hit in OhioLINK.

(Peeps buddy icon, from the Just Born Web site)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, April 10, 2009

Additud* (for Attitude, etc.)

I was coming back from lunch a while ago when one of the entries in a children's Martin Luther King exhibit caught my eye. It was supposed to indicate that ATTITUDE leads to ACTIONS, but something about it seemed a little off. I figured it was just the big block letters that appeared to be bleeding, but when I turned back to take a second look, I saw what it was: the artist had spelled the word "Additudes." There are only two cases of Additud* in OhioLINK, but 19 in WorldCat, two of which are for the online resource ADDitude: a magazine for people with attention deficit disorder. Of the remaining 17, one reads: TTC 1988 public attitude survey: additudinal [i.e. attitudinal] and ridership analysis and another one reads: A study of media additudes [sic] toward the holocaust. This typo is probably due mainly to the fact that the word attitude is pronounced with more of a D than a T sound, although the "attention deficit disorder" theory may also have some merit.

(Danica McKellar, aka Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, a definite adder with attitude, and one of Wired Magazine's "Sexiest Geeks of the Year" for 2007.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Accoustic* (for Acoustic*)

With an acoustic guitar, the lyrics are often easier to make out than they would be with an electric guitar. The words that accompany the music thus take on greater significance. And when words are important, the spelling of them follows. Have you ever tried to look up lyrics on the web and found them riddled with typos? Or originally misheard them and then always thought, for example, that Jimi Hendrix was saying, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy"? These musical misapprehensions are known as mondegreens (a confusion of "Lady Mondegreen" for "laid him on the green"). There are 54 samples of Accoustic* in OhioLINK, but that middle C is a clam.

(Clam City Ramblers from the CCR website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Direcot* (for Director, etc.)

There are 16 cases of Direcot* in OhioLINK, directing us to take action on a "high probability" typo. (Truncating to Direco*, in fact, brings up 35, only one of which is not a misspelling: direcommendations, part of a URL to a website concerning deposit insurance.) Staffing and funding shortages are one ongoing reason for hospital vacancies in the Ukraine, but another situation is proving even more dire. The Council of Europe recently issued a report detailing the mysterious disappearance of newborns while still in the hospital. Mothers were told that their babies had been stillborn, but it's suspected that in many cases the infants were sold into an illegal adoption trade. Subsequently, there have been calls for opening up international adoptions, putting policies in place to register newborns and allow parents to see their babies immediately after birth (whether dead or alive), and enforcing the laws against human trafficking.

(Hospital beds in an empty chamber in Kharkov, Ukraine, by Канопус Киля, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Liason*, etc. (for Liaison)

According to a recent issue of The New Yorker: "Men are better at spelling the word 'liaison'; women are better at spelling everything else." At first blush, I had the romantic notion that this peculiar aptitude among our masculine friends might spring from their fondness for illicit, if not to say dangerous, liaisons. You know the kind I mean. But, after poking around a bit, I suspect it may have more to do with wartime liaison officers and aircraft. In any case, and despite the fact that I, a spy for the distaff side, actually know how to spell this word, I find myself typing L-I-A-S-O-N almost every time here, so maybe they're right. Just remember, it takes a good pair of "eyes" when it comes to liaisons. Liason* appears in OhioLINK 85 times and is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list, with Liasion* coming in at 11 and Laison* at eight (though three of those were for personal names and one was for a publishing house).

(Women liaison officers from the Radosław group of the Warsaw Uprising, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sucid* (for Suicide, etc.)

I don't want to depress you, but there are 13 cases of Sucid* in OhioLINK today. Four of them are references to a place named Sucidava (historical site in Romania) and one is for a song possibly called "Sucide" by Suzi Quatro (I'm actually not sure whether this is a typo or a type of pun based on the artist's name, but I suspect it's the former). One also suspects that the buttoned-up, but somewhat sardonic-looking, Edwin Arlington Robinson, who died on this date in 1935, was no friend to typographical errors. In the carefully crafted poem "Richard Cory" (which some critics believe relates to the death of his brother Herman from a drug overdose) we're told:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

(Portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson by Lilla Cabot Perry, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, April 3, 2009

Barnes & Nobel, Barns & Noble (for Barnes & Noble)

Many articles in professional library publications have extolled and/or condemned the implementation of the retail bookstore (i.e. Barnes & Noble) business model for libraries. For a library that chooses this model of service, this entails keeping abreast of the latest consumer trends and technology, with an emphasis on the new. However, 9 out of 10 bibliophiles agree that nothing beats the charm and of a well-worn, well-loved book--books that “[fall] open at the most delightful places as the ghost of its former owner points me to things I’ve never read before.” These books are reportedly found in lovely smelling book shops or libraries that “[combine] must and dust and age, and walls of wood and floors of wood.”

Barnes & Nobel appears 15 times in OhioLINK, and was in high probability at the time it was added to the Ballard List. Barns & Noble is a low probability typo, and appears 7 times in OhioLink.

Excerpts from: Hanff, Helene. 84, Charing Cross Road. New York: Penguin, 1990.

Janelle Fore

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Allan Quartermain, Alan Quartermain (for Allan Quatermain)

Author H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) penned several novels in the fantasy/adventure/science fiction genre, but he is best known for the adventures of his swashbuckling hero, Allan Quatermain. Haggard’s contemporaries accused him of contributing to the decline of literature; modern critics believe that his exotic, action-packed novels appealed to the secret fantasies of prim and proper Victorians.

There have been several television and film adaptations of Haggard’s Quatermain novels, such as a recent 2008 straight-to-video movie, a 2004 TV movie starring Patrick Swayze, and a couple of ‘80s B-movies featuring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. Sean Connery has portrayed our famously and frequently misspelled title character in the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

There are 7 hits for Allan Quartermain in OHIOLink, making it a low probability typo on the Ballard list. Variations such as Alen Quartermain and Allen Quartermain have turned up in WorldCat.

(Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain, from Yahoo Movies.)

Janelle Fore

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

3nd (for 2nd or 3rd)

According to The Columbia Guide to Standard American English, “ordinal numbers are adjectival forms, ending in -st, -nd, -rd, -th, setting the named item “in order”. To a grade-schooler or a student learning English as a second language, this seemingly arbitrary system could be quite confusing. “Miss Othmar, why can’t the runner come in 2rd?” While you’re reminiscing about your grade school grammar report cards, here’s some more food for thought: the Japanese language has a counting system based on the shape of an object.

3nd appears 14 times in OhioLINK, and was in high probability at the time it was added to the Ballard List. 3nd also turns up 289 keyword search hits in WorldCat. A majority of these errors occur in subject headings for international and overseas conferences. In some cases where the error appears in the title, the astute catalogers have transcribed it as it appeared on the chief source of information, as evidenced by the use of the Latin sic.

(Jules et Jim, the infamous love triangle.)

Janelle Fore