Friday, October 29, 2010

Czechoslav* (for Czechoslovakia, etc.)

Kostnice Sedlec, or Sedlec Ossuary, is the final resting place of an estimated 40,000 souls. It’s located under the Cemetery Church of All Saints, Kutná Hora, in the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), and many people refer to it simply as the “Bone Church.” That’s because in the 1870s, Czech woodcarver František Rint used the skeletal remains of the occupants to redecorate the chapel, lending it an eerie but strangely delicate beauty. Among Rint’s creations are a chandelier containing all the bones of the human body, four “bells” (one for each corner of the chapel), and two monstrances located near the main altar.

Czechoslav* persists on the list of high-probability errors, even though the country of Czechoslovakia officially perished in 1992. In fact, one might say today’s typo is a linguistic memento mori. There are 25 English-language entries for it in the OhioLink database, and 33 occurrences altogether.

(Kostnice Sedlec chandelier, by Daniel Wabyick, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystrey (for Mystery)

When Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, moved from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Jose, California, in 1884, she began building a mansion. It would eventually contain 160 rooms and cost about $5,500,000 over the course of the 38 years it took to complete. That’s not so unusual, perhaps, for someone of her wealth and status.

But the story of the Winchester Mystery House is far from ordinary in every possible way. Sarah, grieving after the loss of her husband and only child some years earlier, had turned to spiritualism for solace. A medium pronounced she was being haunted by the spirits of people her family’s weapons had killed; they had caused the deaths of her loved ones, and she herself was in danger. However, she could she could appease these spirits by moving west and building a great house for them.

That’s exactly what Sarah Winchester did. Construction continued around the clock for the rest of her life, and the results were as odd as their owner—staircases leading nowhere, doors opening onto walls, secret passageways, and the like. Rooms were built, torn down, and rebuilt in an endless cycle. And not surprisingly, the number of reports about cold spots, unexplained noises, and ghostly sightings grew along with the house.

Sarah died in 1922, and ten years later, the Winchester Mystery House opened its doors to the public. It’s still a popular tourist attraction and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mystrey is a typo of lowest probability, meaning one should expect to find only one such entry in OhioLINK. As of this writing, there were two in that database, but this is balanced out by the fact that Mystrery—in the same category—retrieved nothing.

(Ambrotype of Sarah Winchester, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Terrois* (for Terrorism, etc.)

Today is the birthday of Yorkshire actor Peter Firth (1953). Fans of the Kudos/BBC television program Spooks will recognize Firth for his portrayal of Sir Harry Pearce, the formidable head of MI5’s counter-terrorism unit. As a leader, Harry doesn’t hesitate to make the tough decisions when the safety of British citizens is at stake. Nor does he suffer fools gladly, particularly when they place political or self interest above that of the nation. Harry’s a master of the one-liner when expressing contempt for those who fail to live up to his standards. (“I’m sorry–that’s the sound of incredulous laughter being stifled.”) And he’s one lucky fellow, given the dangerous nature of his job and Spooks’ penchant for killing off its characters; Firth is the only actor to have survived the entire run of the series thus far.

But this current project is hardly Firth’s first taste of success. In his youth, he played the part of troubled teenager Alan Strang in Peter Shaffer’s Equus, both in the original London and Broadway stage productions, and later in the film version with Richard Burton. For a complete list of Firth's credits, check out the Internet Movie Database's extensive filmography. Firth received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 2009.

Terrois* is a low-probability typo on the Ballard list with 7 entries in OhioLink. Should you find any in your catalog, be prepared to take immediate countermeasures.

(Peter Firth at the 2009 BAFTA Television Awards ceremony, where Spooks was nominated for Best Drama Series. Photo by damo1977, from Flickr)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Alaphabet* (for Alphabet, Alphabetical, etc.)

Edward (St. John) Gorey is an American author and illustrator most often associated with the macabre. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his abecedarian, or alphabet, book The Gashlycrumb Tinies, first published in 1963. In fact, one could call this the original “Series of Unfortunate Events,” with 26 children all meeting ghastly or even absurd ends. In verse, no less, as this couplet illustrates:

M is for MAUD who was swept out to sea
N is for NEVILLE who died of ennui

Gorey wrote or illustrated around 100 books, including at least five other alphabet ones (The Fatal Lozenge, The Utter Zoo, The Chinese Obelisks, The Glorious Nosebleed, and The Eclectic Abecedarium). His creepy cartoons (animated by Derek Lamb) have adorned the credits of the PBS series Mystery! since it began airing in 1980.

Alaphabet* is another low-probability error with 5 OhioLink English-language results. There are additional French (alaphabétique) and German (alaphabetisch) entries, and if you look, you just might find some lurking in your own catalog.

(Cover art for The Gashlycrumb Tinies, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, October 25, 2010

Syndrom (for Syndrome)

Bats are scary, right? After all, they’re really just mice with wings. Most carry rabies. They’re blind, so they could fly into your hair and get tangled up. And some are even blood-sucking vampires just waiting to feed on unwary humans! Such is the mythology that commonly surrounds bats.

In truth, bats have more to fear from us than we do from them. A case in point: White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). Scientists are still struggling to understand the nature of this threat, but according to Bat Conservation International, it’s killed more than a million bats in 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces since first being discovered in 2006. Those affected commonly exhibit a white fungus on the nose or wings that causes them to awaken early from hibernation and freeze or starve to death. Humans can contribute to the spread of WNS–which often makes big leaps in its progression from site to site–so caves and abandoned mines in many parts of the country are being closed to visitors.

Why should we care? If compassion for a fellow creature isn’t a good enough reason, these winged marvels have an important role to play in keeping the insect population under control. A single bat can consume its body weight in bugs each night!

Syndrom is a low-probability typo on the Ballard list. By my count, there are currently 10 instances of it in the OhioLink database for materials coded as English-language. But this one is a little tricky to tease out, because “Syndrom” is the German counterpart, and it sometimes appears in records for English translations, bilingual titles, and works that simply refer to a particular syndrome by its German name.

(Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, or Corynorhinus townsendii, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lanscap*, etc. (for Landscap*)

In a nice confluence of the digital revolution (in which "everyone is a photographer now," according to a coworker) and the economic depression (in which cultural institutions can barely afford to stay open anymore, much less spend money on new exhibits), the New York State Museum has exhibited some creative juice of its own in its latest installation, Not Just Another Pretty Place: The Landscape of New York. This is the "first exhibition of landscape art to be completely culled from the State Museum’s vast collections." As a corollary, it has also invited members of the public to submit their outdoor snapshots, vacation photos, and other pictures of New York State for display in the museum. This initiative, called Wish You Were Here, has been a smashing success and these wonderful images are now available for viewing on Flickr. We found 21 cases of Lanscap*, six of Landcap*, four of Landsap*, and one of Landcsap* all littering the landscape in OhioLINK this morning.

(Photograph of the Olana Mansion, Columbia County, New York, home of Frederick Church, father of the "Hudson River School" of landscape painting, by Rolf Müller, June 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writng* (for Writing*)

Yesterday was "National Day on Writing," a fact that had escaped my notice until I showed up at a local book talk last night by Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of and the author of Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software. Scott gave an interesting lecture about the history and significance of blogging, deftly fielding complaints (from audience members and critics in general) that blogging is too ephemeral, too casual, too personal, too anonymous, too impolite, too narcissistic, too shallow, too un-serendipitous, too unpublished. Basically, that it isn't really writing. Scott is living proof, though, that it is. He blogs about writing and writes about blogging. And, while there are fundamental differences between books and blogs (the combination of the two even has its own predictably ungainly wordform now: blook—coming soon to a dictionary near you!), at bottom they both speak to the same human impulse: to express one's thoughts in unspoken words and to do so publicly among a community of readers. There were eight cases of Writng* (for writing*) found in the OhioLINK database, and in 97 in WorldCat.

(Scott Rosenberg and his new book, Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Puctu* (for Punctuat* or Pictur*)

Sounding like a philatelist's paradise, the PUC, or Postal Union Congress, is the international meeting of the Universal Postal Union. The congress is held once every four years (though the meetings were cancelled during both World Wars—some things are more important than postage, I guess) in different cities around the world. Members discuss postal services, legislation, politics, and anything else affecting or relating to this sticky issue. The first PUC was held in Bern, Switzerland, in 1874, and drew delegates from 22 nations. Customarily, attendees are presented with stamp albums from each participating country, covering the years since the last congress. We collected six examples of Puctu* in OhioLINK, two for words like picture, and four for words like punctuate. So let's all get together and stamp out this typo today.

(Postal Union Congress £1 stamp, designed by Harold Nelson, 1929, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Iceburg* (for Iceberg*)

Hamburgers may be getting bigger these days (especially those honking hunks of meat, wrapped in yet more meat, piled atop additional meat, by Burger King and its icky ilk), but lettuce or no lettuce and try as they might, they will never match the sheer enormousness of your average iceberg. (Although, when it comes to enormity, that's kind of a different story.) We uncovered eleven of these typos in OhioLINK, seven of which were for the "Carson-Iceburg Wilderness" in California. (One was the intentional "Joke: Iceburgers & Snowball" from the album A Child's Christmas by Susie Tallman and friends.) Thanks to itinerant typo correctors Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, who served up this excellent example from a restaurant menu ("Iceburg Lettuce") in a recent profile by Bill Geist on CBS News Sunday Morning.

(An iceberg at the edge of the Baffin Bay's sea ice is just one of the many sights three airmen from Thule Air Base, Greenland, witnessed recently during a six-day dog-sledding expedition. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gaurant*, Guarent* (for Guarant*)

I can't always guarantee you a pun-tastic post here; there are days when I simply can't make (non) sense of the typo in play. Guaranty, guarantor, guar gum, sure. But GAUR, GAUR, what begins with GAUR? (And why am I starting to sound like Dr. Seuss?) The truth is, very few words that are not proper nouns begin with the letters G-A-U-R. So few (just two, by my count: gaur, meaning a wild ox; and gaura, meaning a plant from the Evening Primrose family) that it's a bit surprising this particular typo gets made at all. There were only three occurrences of it in OhioLINK (all for the same title) and 55 in WorldCat. Still, that's no guarantee you won't find it your own catalog. (And as proof that it's worth it to keep poking around, even in seemingly barren ground, we eventually turned up 18 cases of Guarent* as well.)

(Gaur at the Toronto Zoo, October 15, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 15, 2010

Phyci*, Pysic* (for Physic*)

What's not to love about a sitcom that features a card catalog as part of the set design? Or where Rock-Paper-Scissors isn't geeky enough for the four young physicists—they have to play a more advanced form of the game called "Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock"? The geekiest of the group is undoubtedly Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons; Sheldon was recently outed as a person with Asperger's syndrome. However, this theory has been disputed by the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. "It would be a lot of responsibility and it would put up some barriers," Parsons commented. "He is Aspergian, but that allows more freedom." (I think "Aspergian" means he has Asperger's, but I won't tell him if you don't.) There were 23 cases of Phyci* and 20 of Pysic* in OhioLINK last time we checked. These may be typos for a variety of words, though, so be careful when making any corrections.

(Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Workpal*, Workpace*, etc. (for Workplace* or Workspace*)

I once wrote a bunch of "library limericks," which started one day when I stumbled across the word poetaster, meaning: "writer of mediocre verse; rhymester; would-be poet." Another definition is: "a writer of insignificant, meretricious, or shoddy poetry." It comes from the Latin for poet + aster, which means "pejorative stuff." Although this first one isn't about a librarian, per se, I think we can all relate...

There once was a poor poetaster
Whose boss acted more like his master,
He said, "You're too slow,
If you don’t want to go,
You will have to write worser and faster."

Regardless of the pace at which you work, the library world would be a much better place if you'd all take a moment to look for and fix today's typos. Workplace is a funny word when you stop to think about it, though. It's like calling your bedroom the "sleepplace" ("sleeplace"?) or kitchen the "eatplace." It may sound like a fairly modern word, but according to Random House, its origins date back to the 1820s. While we found two cases of Workpal* in OhioLINK, Workpace* didn't show up at all. We also got one hit on Workspl* (subject heading: "Diversity in the worksplace"). In Google, "workpace" can be a typo for either workplace or workspace, as well as the actual name of a bit of software (WorkPace, tm). WorldCat returns 27 hits on Workpace, only a handful of which look to be typos for workplace. The rest are for the apparently intended word workpace, which does not seem to have made it into the dictionaries yet. So be a pal and work on this one for me, willya?

"I Believe You Have My Red Swingline Stapler," from the Foundphotos file at Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quesiton* (for Question*)

Lo que es quesito, that is the question. Popular in Puerto Rico, quesito is a "cheese filled pastry twist," according to Wikipedia. The cheese is generally whipped with sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and often contains papaya, guava, or other tropical fruits. The mixture is then wrapped in puff pastry, drenched in caramel, and baked. These sweets are commonly sold in bomboneras, which means "cozy sweet boxes." Ours is not to question why ... quesitos are simply for to die! We found 11 cases of Quesiton* in OhioLINK this morning.

(Papitas arrugadas y quesito, by Luis M. Garcia, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Helath* (for Health*)

You don't necessarily have to be a he-man in order to refinish a wall, or even be especially healthy, but for the fortunate remodeler, it's a pleasure to work with plaster and lath. There were 41 instances of Helath* (for health*) in OhioLINK today, and 267 in WorldCat. According to Wikipedia: "The lath and plaster method's popularity declined in the 1950s, as it was replaced by the more efficient drywall." However, as someone who recently watched while layers of paint and wallpaper were painstakingly peeled away to reveal creamy plaster walls constructed in the 1920s, I feel confident in saying that while drywall may be more "efficient," plaster is really preferable. And once it's truly past its prime, you can always make "lath art."

(John Deere House, historic site, food pantry with wall cutaway to demonstrate lath boards beneath, Grand Detour, Illinois, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frued* (for Freud*)

Close, but no cigar, as Sigmund Freud might have said about our typo of the day today. Our Freudian slip, if you will. Actually, the quote that's normally attributed to Freud, though he may in fact not have coined it, is: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." (Groucho Marx similarly might not have invented, but often made use of, the carnival barker phrase: "Close, but no cigar!") In any case, our subject today is not the Father of Psychoanalysis, but rather his niece Martha. I would not insult this charming children's author and artist by claiming that she suffered from "penis envy," but she did seem to think her books would succeed better as the purported work of a man, so at the rather precocious age of 15, she chose "Tom" as her official nom de plume. After attending art school in London, she met and married the writer Jankew Seidmann. Together, they founded the Peregrin-Verlag, a Berlin publishing house specializing in religious material for Eastern-European Jews. Seidmann-Freud created many works for children, including The Magic Boat: A Book to Turn and Move, described on Amazon as "a collection of stories and poems, together with a puzzle and a Punch-and-Judy play, illustrated with movable pictures." Sadly, Martha followed her beloved Jankew even unto death. The Great Depression of 1929 caused them to go bankrupt and both husband and wife committed suicide. We found 13 instances of Frued* in OhioLINK, although one was for the (presumably) correctly spelled Carl Gustave Fruedenberg.

(Peregrin and the Goldfish, by Tom Seidmann-Freud, cover art courtesy of Page Books.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 8, 2010

Furtur* (for Future, etc.)

The future of fur is a matter of some debate, given the current awareness of "animal rights" and the often egregious, if rather effective, tactics employed by activist groups such as PETA. But coats, hats, and other accessories made from fur—as well as feathers, wool, and various hides and skins—have been worn for both warmth and cool by all kinds of people in all sorts of places and times. Our grandfathers (or, in some cases, great-grandfathers) didn't really qualify as hep cats unless they were yelling, "23, skidoo!" while wearing raccoon coats. Fur is the title of a 2006 fictional "biography" of photographer Diane Arbus, starring Nicole Kidman. And Venus in Furs, published in 1870, was an erotic masterpiece by Leopold Sacher-Masoch (from whom we get the word masochism). Those are just a few examples of fur as cultural signifier; animals and our wearing of them go back much much further, all the way back to the beginning of man. (See, for example, those cave women in their leopard-spotted bikinis, as optimistically depicted in movies like One Million Years B.C. with Raquel Welch.) Getting back to the future, we uncovered 18 examples of Furtur* (all of them typos, except for one Italian song called Furturella) in the OhioLINK database today.

Dutch portrait of Felicina Caglio Perego di Cremnago, 1842, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Anotomy, etc. (for Anatomy, etc.)

The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone ... now hear the word of the Lord! If you want to know about all the bones in the body and exactly how they connect, you'll want to take a look at Gray's Anatomy, something I'm sure most of you have done at one time or another—if not the MD-sanctioned reference book, then the Emmy-nominated TV show (which I should probably note is spelled with an E rather than an A). Henry Gray was born in England in 1827 and eventually appointed Lecturer on Anatomy at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London. He and a colleague, Henry Vandyke Carter, dissected unclaimed corpses from hospital and workhouse mortuaries for a year and a half, thanks to the Anatomy Act of 1832, an activity which helped form the basis of the medical textbook Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical. Gray died at the premature age of 34, but his landmark book has undergone numerous editions since then and is still in print today. We diagnosed several variations on today's typo in OhioLINK: six cases of Anotomy, two of Anatony, and one each of Anatamy and Amatomy. (There were none for Anotamy.) You can also try truncating these examples in order to pick up typos for words such as anatomical, but if you do, be aware that your results might include some foreign words or variant spellings, which may or may not accurately reflect what's on the piece in question.

(Bandapparat OSG und Fuß, von fibular, Grey's Anatomy, 1918, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Anti + Anit (for Anti)

In light of Monday's posting about Rapunzel (who let down her hair so that someone else might climb up it) and Tuesday's, which was all about drugs, our typo for today is Anti + Anit. (One record found in OhioLINK yesterday included this rather neat twofer: "... anit-HIV durgs ...") And, after contracting a head-scratching case of head lice last summer from some small-fry long-hairs I happen to know, I shudder a bit to show you this a portrait of the little bugger, the egg of which is known as a nit. (Some people urge the application of a drug-based shampoo to get rid of lice; others obtain good results with olive oil or mayonnaise.) We located 17 samples of this irritating typo in OhioLINK this morning. Comb carefully through your catalogs to locate more, and don't be afraid to nitpick.

(Male human head louse, or Pediculus humanus capitis, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Durg, Durgs (for Drug, Drugs)

Today's typo is not from the "high" section of the Ballard list, but it still needs to be diligently dug out of our databases. We found four cases of Durgs in OhioLINK (one being the correctly spelled subject of the terrifically titled Goldglove Gid, the man of grit: or, Desperate Durg's desperate scheme, published in 1891). We had a bit better luck with just plain Durg, which garnered 21 hits, slightly more than half of which, however, referred to Durg District, India, or other proper names and foreign words. So, not to be a real drag here or sounding a mournful dirge or anything, but let's all try and remember to "Just Say No" to Durgs (for drugs).

(Actress Dorthy Short as Mary Lane in the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tresspass* (for Trespass*)

If any girl could ever truly be said to have had golden tresses, it's probably Rapunzel—a likely party girl too, in a way, since she really knew how to let her hair down.* For many years, Rapunzel and her long blonde braids passed the dark dismal days locked up in a tall tower as part of a witch's curse. No trespassing was allowed. But eventually she and an admiring prince conspired to engineer her rescue. She used her plaits as a rope ladder (putting a whole new twist on tossing one's hair to get a guy's attention!) and soon had the man of her dreams climbing in through her window. Actually, this story is quite a bit more complicated than I remember it, what with garden gleaning, pregnancy cravings, skeins of silk, and an indeterminate number of babies and length of hair. It does have a happy ending, though, and so will you, as soon as you clear your catalog of today's typo, which was found trespassing seven times in OhioLINK, and 83 times in WorldCat.

* "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair."

(Rapunzel's tower in the "fairy park" of Ludwigsburg, Germany, 2003, from Wikimedia Commons. Click for closeup of braid.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adventru*, Adventuo* (for Adventur*, Adventuro*)

I once put together a conference program about the image of librarians in popular culture. The panel comprised a couple of people who'd been involved with the making of the movie Party Girl, along with our own version of the Parker Posey character, who also happened to head up NYLA's Film and Video Round Table. It was fairly entertaining, perhaps even enlightening, and I believe the consensus was that if this was the popular image of a librarian, maybe we could finally put "The Stereotype" to bed.

In the feature film Rome Adventure, the lead is a young college librarian named Prudence who stands up to a phalanx of old biddies chiding her for loaning out (her own copy of!) a book called Lovers Must Learn by Irving Fineman. (An actual book, in fact, published in 1932, and the story the movie itself is based on.) Rather than be fired for sharing a book the library board had deemed unsuitable for co-eds, she breezily leaves her job with no love lost, except for the one she might be missing out on if she doesn't arrive in Rome as soon as possible! Prudence may be a tad naive (assuring her worried mother that her "new friends"two men she's met while vacationing in Italy—care only about protecting her "chastity," an assertion she qualifies somewhat wryly by noting: "from each other"). On the other hand, she's smart, gorgeous, winsome, and ... Suzanne Pleshette, for God's sake.

She gives a lovelorn student a romance novel and now she's ready for a novel romance of her own. Despite the surprisingly well-done book-banning set-up, this is basically a chick flick adventure film co-starring the hunky Troy Donahue (whom Pleshette was afterwards moved to marry, if only for a little while.) It's about as realistic as a steamy, 3-star Hollywood love story, with filmstrip-style footage of Italy and featuring a librarian in 1962, probably could be. And yet the love scenes, as well as that scene in the library, kind of rang true. This movie can naturally be found on the A list at Martin Raish's marvelous website, Librarians in the Movies. Adventru* turns up four times in OhioLINK, and Adventuo* three.

(Soundtrack album cover for Rome Adventure, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid