Monday, January 31, 2011

Bufff* (for Buffalo, etc.)

You think schoolyard bullies and mean girls are bad? Well, did you know Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo? It's true! Or, as Wikipedia explains: "The sentence when parsed reads as a claim that bison who are intimidated by bison are intimidating to bison (at least in the city of Buffalo, impliedly Buffalo, NY)." In other words: Bison from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo) bison from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo) intimidate (buffalo) intimidate (buffalo) bison from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo). What goes around comes around, kiddos! Anyway, try writing that on the blackboard one hundred times. Also, just because it's cool, check out this animated photograph of galloping bison by Eadweard Muybridge. Today's typo is Bufff* (for Buffalo, or perhaps another word). It was found twice in OhioLINK and 52 times in WorldCat.

("Hunting bison in the USA," 1844, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 28, 2011

Musue* (for Museum, etc.)

I'm not exactly the standing on a chair screaming type; nor, on the other hand, am I one to welcome the humble Mus musculus (or "house mouse") into my own home without reservations. Few people are, of course, but Dorothy Lathrop, an Albany-based children's author (and winner of the first Caldecott Medal), along with her sister Gertrude, a sculptor, were. They shared quarters with a wide assortment of animals, kind of like Dr. Dolittle did, keeping them both as pets and as models for their art. This unusual living arrangement was paid homage to, appropriately enough, by Kate Spohn, who had once been the women's teenaged gardener, in a book she later wrote called By Word of Mouse. There were 102 instances of Musue* in OhioLINK today, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. There's no need to get out the pesticides and traps just yet, but you will want to muscle these little ones out the door as soon as possible.

(Baby mouse named "Cooky," ca. 2003, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Husdon (for Hudson)

Frederic Church (1826–1900) was a leading member of the "Hudson River School" of landscape painters, a movement founded by his teacher and fellow artist, Thomas Cole. Church spent much of his adult life traveling the world and recording what he saw. He was primarily interested in natural history; his gorgeous paintings are suffused with rich layers of light and shadow. At the age of fifty, Church was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. This eventually made painting impossible and the last twenty years of his life were spent decorating Olana, his amazing, Persian-style abode on the Hudson River. As he once proudly stated: "Almost an hour this side of Albany is the Center of the World—I own it." We found five instances of Husdon in the OhioLINK database, and 72 in WorldCat.

(View from Olana in the Snow, 1873, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Communn* (for Community, etc.)

Comedian (or, should you prefer, comedienne) Olivia Munn garnered the plum position of Daily Show correspondent last year, which brought down the wrath of at least a portion of the feminist community. Some women felt she wasn't funny enough, while others suspected she may have gotten there on her looks. (Come on, says Munn, in the Wall Street Journal—the two things don't have to be mutually exclusive.) Feminists have always battled the perception that they lack wit and humor, not to mention the fact that men are not traditionally attracted to funny in a female. Even the great (and hilarious) Christopher Hitchens felt the need to pile on this way in Vanity Fair a few years back. There were eight examples of Communn* in OhioLINK (though the two cases of communn among them, one in French and the other Gaelic, I shall leave to my more foreign-language-fluent colleagues to figure out). Furthermore, WorldCat contained a whopping 225 iterations of this typo. And that's not funny!

(Olivia Munn at the 2007 Comic-Con, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gallary, Gallaries (for Gallery, Galleries)

According to Wikipedia, the word gallery has numerous meanings and applications. Generally speaking, however, it refers to a room usually used for viewing art, scenery, or performances. It can also describe the people inhabiting such a room, for example, a peanut gallery, which is "an audience that heckles performers." (It's also the name of a band, a song, an album, a disco, a magazine, a fanzine, a hotel, a mall, a cafeteria, etc.—a whole gallery of possibilities.) There were eight examples of Gallary and four of Galleries in OhioLINK today (plus 106 and 55 in WorldCat). Don't let it gall you, but do remove these typos from display at your earliest convenience.

(The Alfred Stieglitz gallery at 291 Fifth Ave., NYC, before 1913, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ettiquet* (Etiquette)

According to Miss Manners (aka Judith Martin), while it's a bad thing to be rude, it's even worse to call attention to another's lack of etiquette. Martin was born a deferential and detail-oriented Virgo in 1938, and was bred in Washington, D.C., where she continues to reside today. She also lived in various foreign capitals as a youngster, since her father was an economist for the United Nations. She majored in English at Wellesley College and worked as a journalist and theater/film critic before finally becoming the last word in "excruciatingly correct behavior." Ettiquet* has shown up uninvited six times in OhioLINK, and 78 times in WorldCat, so I do hope I'm not being too impolite in pointing that out. Please try and find some time today to discreetly remove this typo from your own catalogs. Thank you very much!

(Miss Manners giving a commencement address on "combining feminism, manners, and professional behavior," May 13, 2006, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 21, 2011

Invov*, etc. (for Involve, etc.)

It's fun, it's fleeting, it's fanciful, and it's farcical. It's called "Falling in Love" and it can get very involved. (On the other hand, birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it—so how hard can it really be?) Romantic or "courtly" love was apparently invented in either the 12th century (by French troubadours) or the 14th century (by Italian bards), but in any event, it's been with us for a long time. In the charming 2005 collection The Romance of Libraries, one fellow recalls his earliest erotic experience among the stacks, in which he shyly tries to borrow an encyclopedia volume labeled HOW to LUV. We found a few variations on today's typo in the OhioLINK database: Invlov* (three), Involov* (three), and Invov* (12).

(Three lovebirds on a perch, June 12, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reponsib*, Responib* (for Responsib*)

There are a great many professionals out there nowadays collectively concerned with "social responsibility": physicians, business owners, educators, computer professionals, psychologists, behaviorists, architects, and so on. The American Library Association established the Social Responsibilities Round Table in 1969—and with lots of input from Sandy Berman and other likeminded librarians, SRRT is still going strong today. Catalogers are also responsible for 41 instances of Reponsib* in OhioLINK, seven of Responib*, and two of Responisb*. Think globally, act locally, and correct as many of these typos today as you can find.

(Sunil Aggarwal, past president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, speaking at Seattle Hempfest, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dolll* (for Doll*)

Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946, into a "dirt poor" but happy brood of 14 (her family may also have believed that children came "cheaper by the dozen") down in Sevierville, Tennessee. Known for her over-the-top, though accessible, Mae West-like sexiness, Parton looks relatively restrained in this early publicity shot and, despite the group's name—the Pick 'n Grin Bluegrass Band—none too terribly thrilled about it. The entertainer we've all come to know over the years may have seemed to some like a living doll, perhaps even a bit of a bimbo, to put it crudely, but nothing could be further from the truth. Dolly is deceptively smart, outrageously sweet, amazingly talented, and enormously kind. She has a supportive, retiring (and recently retired) husband back home—Carl Dean has reportedly seen his wife perform in public just one time—along with a touching how-we-met (and have stuck together for 45 years) story to go with him. The contented pair have no offspring of their own, but have raised several children together. Parton also has a very close relationship with her longtime companion and personal assistant, Judy Ogle. There were three hits on today's typo in OhioLINK this morning, making it one of "low probability" on the Ballard list. Hello, Dolly, and many happy returns of the day!

(Larry Mathis, Dolly Parton, and Bud Brewster, ca. late 1950s-early 1960s, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Commerical* (for Commercial*)

We couch potatoes of a more delicate fiber might be forgiven for occasionally wishing that commercials were a bit more like children should be, according to the old saw: seen but not heard. These intrusive attempts to sell us things, in fact, have proved so consistently noisy that most viewers eventually form the automatic habit of hitting the mute button or volume control at the very first hint of one. In December 2010, Congress finally took pity on the TV-watching public and passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. There were a crashing 156 cases of Commerical* (for commercial*) creating quite a racket in OhioLINK today.

(A typical "As seen on TV" logo, 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 17, 2011

Governer* (for Governor*)

In Martin Luther King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, he states: "We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote." Governor Andrew Cuomo also has a dream, although it may not rise to the soaring heights of Dr. King's. In any case, there are quite a few New Yorkers who pray that our new governor isn't merely dreaming. Andrew comes from a liberal political family (New York's answer to the Kennedy dynasty) and possesses a good measure of the personal charm and rhetorical grace of his father, Mario Cumo, New York's governor from 1983 to 1994. However, some suspect that, despite his vision for a "new New York," Andrew may be too indebted to financial and corporate interests to sway an intransigently dysfunctional legislature, reverse the state's crushing debt, and protect the interests of his many constituents. (Including the thousands of state workers worried about losing their jobs.) Still, one can always dream. We found 37 cases of Governer* in OhioLINK, making this a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. Be sure to check the sources on these as some could be representative of old or variant spellings.

(Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally supporting the candidacy of Eric Schneiderman for attorney general, September 30, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stuggl* (for Struggl*)

Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since.
- Dave Beard
Two weeks into January, it’s the time of year when people are already struggling to maintain their New Year’s resolutions.

I did a quick search of the blogosphere for librarian New Year’s resolutions and wasn’t surprised by the number related to reading: read more professional literature, read more nonfiction, read more classics, read new authors…it’s interesting seeing what we as a profession think we’re “supposed” to be reading.

I didn’t make any resolutions myself, but now I think I might add “read at least one novel per month with no educational qualities whatsoever.”

(Calendar image from

Leanne Olson

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Villiag* (for Villag*)

On January 13, 2002, the off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village (not Villiage) closed after 17,162 performances – that’s 42 years of performances, making it the longest running musical ever.

Fantasticks looks like a typo, but that’s actually how it’s spelled. It’s a fun show in which two neighbours try to trick their children into falling in love, by setting up a fake Romeo and Juliet scenario: the fathers fake a long-standing feud.

Over the course of its run, the cast included many actors who went on to be well known, such as Liza Minnelli, Elliott Gould, F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close, and Kristin Chenoweth.

(Photo of the Sullivan Street Playhouse from

Leanne Olson

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bethroth* (for Betroth*)

In some Western countries, betrothal was a binding contract between a man and a woman promising to get married, involving dowry and formal declarations. Nowadays, the emphasis seems less on the formal statement and more on romance.

A Google employee by the name of Michael Weiss-Malik embraced the romance in his 2008 proposal to his girlfriend, Leslie. He popped the question in a Web 2.0 version of the public skywriting or Jumbotron proposal: Weiss-Malik used Google Street View, a feature of the online Google Maps in which a photograph is displayed of locations on the map.

Weiss-Malik learned from fellow employees when the Google Street View van would be driving by to take photographs, and positioned himself outside holding a sign that read “Proposal 2.0: Marry Me Leslie.”

(Image of Michael’s proposal from the LA Times.)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hawii* (for Hawaii*)

On January 11, 1935, Amelia Earhart began a flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California. The successful completion made her the first woman to fly across the Pacific Ocean solo, and the first person to complete this particular flight path.

Earhart disappeared in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe with her navigator, Fred Noonan. She was declared legally dead in 1939 and what happened to her remains a mystery.

Hawii* is a moderate probability typo for Hawaii*, showing up over 600 times in WorldCat. But watch out: some of these appearances are actually the surname Ḥāwī.

(Photo of Earhart from Purdue University, where she was a faculty member.)

Leanne Olson

Monday, January 10, 2011

Masculan* (for Masculin*)

Definitions of masculinity change over the years. For the ancient Greeks, it involved courage and skill in battle, as embodied by the heroes in the Illiad and the Odyssey. In Medieval times, chivalry was a desirable attribute, as seen in the tales of King Arthur's knights.

Even today the definitions differ: members of one generation may see masculinity in the strong jawline of actor George Clooney, and others may see it in the nonthreatening coif of pop star Justin Bieber.

Personally, I like this quotation from Norman Mailer:
Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.
Whether those battles involve defeating the Cyclops or rising through the pop charts is up to you.

(Photo of George Clooney from Wikipedia.)

Leanne Olson

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grey* + Gray* (for Gray* or Grey*)

We garnered a great many hits on this typo in OhioLINK, 307 to be exact (257 without the asterisk), but quite a few were ambiguous or clearly reflected the correct spelling of two different people's names. And speaking of two different people, you'd be hard pressed to find two people as different as the two Edith Beales—"Big Edie" and "Little Edie"—who were the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, and black sheep of the family. They were also the subjects of a 1975 documentary called Grey Gardens by Albert and David Maysles; a follow-up in 2006 entitled The Beales of Grey Gardens; an off-Broadway musical (which sounds rather improbable, but is in fact quite wonderful); a PBS documentary about the making of said musical; and a 2009 TV movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. "Grey Gardens" was the name of the once crumbling and overgrown Beale estate in East Hampton, Long Island, where the two ladies are seen endlessly reliving their lives in a fascinating combination of joie de vivre and bitter regret. Check out this typo pair in your own catalog, and then check out the DVDs about this atypical pair of Edies. You won't regret it.

("Little Edie," courtesy of Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Neigbor* (for Neighbor*)

It's been nigh on close to a decade since we saw the final episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (which aired on PBS for 33 years), though I'm sure we can all still hear our old friend's reassuring voice softly crooning as he hangs up his cardigan in the hall closet: "It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood, a neighborly day for a beauty, would you be mine? Could you be mine?" Neighbor sounds like kind of a negative word, since it begins with a homophone for nay, but Fred McFeely Rogers managed to turn it into one of the most positive words imaginable. We found 11 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK (and 134 in WorldCat). Won't you be a good neighbor and look in your own catalog now too?

(Fred Rogers with the miniature set for his television program, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Senstiv* (for Sensitiv*)

Women love sensitive men and, perhaps even more so, the idea of a Sensitive Man. Is it possible for a guy to be too sensitive? Yes, indeed, according to this joke I just made up: "My boyfriend is empathological. I can't say anything without him constantly agreeing with me!" I find that sensitivity and empathy play a big part in typo identification and probability predictions as well. I ask myself: If I were going to misspell this word, how would I do it? Or if I accidentally miskey a word, I figure the odds are pretty good that other people might do the same thing. After all, to err is human. And how one errs can be easily divined. We found six examples of today's typo in the OhioLINK database, and 91 in WorldCat.

(Old Spice Sensitive/Sensible After Shave, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Distingush* (for Distinguish*)

On the website Yahoo! Answers, someone needs to know: "How tall was Randy Newman?" One person guesses around 5' 11", but demands to know what the questioner means by was. Another can't resist tweaking the query to read: "How randy was Tall Newman?" And yet another supposes probably not very, seeing as how he wrote the song "Short People" and released it on the Little Criminals album in 1977. These are all rather interesting and/or amusing responses, but they fall short of the real answer, which is that Randy Newman is over six feet tall. I'm not going to gush over what a great musician Mr. Newman is, or how funny and ironic the lyrics to "Short People" are. But do allow me to quote this passage from the 2002 book by Eric Flint and Richard Roach, Forward the Mage: "Who is so wise as to distinguish, with unerring precision, between a little man, a dwarf, a gnome, a midget, a shrimp, a runt, a pygmy, a Lilliputian, a chit, a fingerling, a pigwidgeon, a mite, a dandiprat, a micromorph, an homunculus, a dapperling, a small fry, or someone with bad posture, weighted down with the cares of the world?" We found 15 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, several of which were distinguished by a [sic] or the fact that they appeared on records for works published in the DBD (Days Before Dictionaries).

(Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, May 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 3, 2011

Santa Clause (for Santa Claus)

You better not cry and you better not pout, but on many records in OhioLINK that E should come out. Actually, we garnered 49 hits on Santa Clause, but a dozen or so of them refer to the 1994 movie with Tim Allen, while a few others contain the correct spellings of both Claus and clause (e.g., Congress as Santa Claus, or, National donations and the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution, by Charles Warren, 1932). The rest, however, appear to be legitimate typos for (or misspellings of) the name Santa Claus. While a great many people are either struggling to make ends meet in a desperate economy or relying on the kindness of strangers (that's what's known as a "dependent clause"), I hope we all managed to have a happy holiday this year. And may the spirit of giving remain in our hearts all throughout the new one.

(1902 photo of a man dressed as Santa Claus holding a sign that reads "Help the Volunteers of America send Santa Claus down 10,000 chimneys of Chicago's poor people," with a sign next to him advertising a "Free Christmas Dinner," from the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0001069, Chicago Historical Society.)

Carol Reid