Friday, January 8, 2010

Minature*, etc. (for Miniature*)

What is your favorite miniature motion picture? Which is not to say a low-budget indie, or one that comes in at under two hours, or something you can watch, kind of, on your iPod, but rather a movie about little people. (Apart from congenitally small humans, this term is also applied to "wee folk" of the U.K. and Scandinavia: faeries, elves, trolls, and the like; downtrodden, uplifting citizens in a Capra-esque world; and Fisher-Price toys.) Is it the wonderful Wizard of Oz? Or perhaps Tod Browning's long-banned and misunderstood Freaks? Could it be The Terror of Tiny Town ("the world's only musical Western with an all-midget cast")? What about the 1957 sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man, or the Irish-inspired Disney product Darby O'Gill and the Little People? Maybe it's the 1989 blockbuster Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or (a personal favorite) the soapy Lily Tomlin satire The Incredible Shrinking Woman. If you look hard enough, you can find some serious stuff on dwarfism too, such as 1982's acclaimed documentary Little People. The most frequent typo for the word miniature* is Minature*, which turns up a mighty 75 times in OhioLINK. We also get five hits on Miniture* and two on Minaiture*. This is an example of a typo group largely driven by misspelling, not simply miskeying. The word sounds like it's spelled "mina"; its meaning suggests "mini" (see also minuscule); and "minai" indicates an awareness of the correct spelling, but an inadvertent reversal of letters, perhaps because ai is a more common English grapheme than ia is.

(Portrait of George Pearson, director of The Little People, 1926, from the British Film Institute's screenonline website.)

Carol Reid

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