Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurican* (for Hurrican*)

I can no longer foolishly regard the unprecedented hurricane we experienced recently as just a thrillingly and exceedingly windy and rainy day, with the occasional flooded cellar, roof damage, and annoyance of no Internet connection or temporary loss of power to deal with—but see it instead as an unbelievably cold and cruel act of nature. The wife of a former coworker was killed in the normally placid creek behind their home as she and her husband prepared to evacuate, after warning all their neighbors to do the same. A loving eleven-year-old boy in Virginia was killed as he slept in bed next to his mother when a tree crashed down upon their house. At least 44 people were killed in this horrific storm, which like a Nazi storm trooper simply annihilated everything and everyone in its path. A family member in Vermont described her town's nearest river as a "raging roiling monster." And, while it doesn't compare to the tragic loss of life that's occurred, I felt utterly disheartened when I heard about the destruction of the historic Old Blenheim Bridge in nearby Schoharie County. (Wikipedia is already referring to it in the past tense.) Old Blenheim Bridge in North Blenheim, New York, was the longest covered bridge of its type in the world. The sign at its entrance had read: "$500 fine to ride or drive this bridge faster than a walk." I wish we could consign that goddam gale to eternal Hell for tearing down our beloved bridge faster than you could walk over it, and for the pain and suffering it has caused up and down the eastern seaboard. My thoughts and prayers are with all victims everywhere of what I can no longer bring myself to call "Mother Nature." (Five cases of Hurican* in OhioLINK and 89 in WorldCat.)

(Old Blenheim Bridge, photographed March 11, 2008, from up the hill on the eastern shore of the Schoharie Creek, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Consultin, Consulan*, (for Consulting, Consultan*)

"I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers, consultin' with the rain..." sang the Scarecrow in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, considering all the options that would be open to him, if he "only had a brain." No matter how brainy a consultant might be, nobody really knew this past week just where and how hard the hurricane would hit us. On the heels of an earthquake a few days ago that rocked Virginia and many other points up and down the eastern seaboard, how you were affected was basically a crapshoot. Some people in my building felt the earth move under their feet and witnessed the unnerving sight of furniture, shelving, books, etc. bouncing about, and like a wobbly Ray Bolger, weren't quite sure which way to go at first; others didn't notice a thing. Same with the storm. A few of our coworkers are still at home dealing with flooded basements, a lack of electricity, and other distressing developments, while others remained high and dry. If only there were someone possessing the power of a wizard with whom we could consult on matters like this. After consulting with OhioLINK and WorldCat, we found two examples of Consultin and 22 of Consulan* in OhioLINK (along with 20 and 212 in WorldCat).

(An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, published in 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aproach* (for Approach*)

While watching the coverage of Hurricane Irene this morning, I thought I heard one of the newscasters say: "As the storm appoarches..." I was eager to find evidence of this audio 'typo' in OhioLINK too, but sadly enough, no dice. In any event, as the storm approaches, it might be time to come in off the porch. And bring in all your garden tools, barbeque skewers, and various other summer accoutrements while you're at it. Any potential projectiles, as it were. Batten down the hatches. So far, no major tree limbs have managed to flatten the car and my bushes are all bowing gracefully, if rather frantically, in the wind. This one, though, is surely off the Beaufort charts. There have been close to 70,000 reported power outages in the area and surely a lot of things blowing around that really shouldn't be, but most of us weathered the storm okay. Hope you're all doing well wherever you are. Keep your powder dry and keep a positive approach. There were 33 cases of Aproach* in OhioLINK (maybe one of those P's got carried away!) and 882 in WorldCat.

(Hurricane Irene as seen from GOES 13 East Satellite, Aug 27, 2011, at 19:24 EST, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 26, 2011

Partipants (for Participants)

If you think women's fashion trends are a hot button today, you should have been around a hundred years ago or so, when a girl couldn't even wear slacks without causing a sensation. In this picture captioned "Good Heavens! The Shirt!" from Vanity Fair's Bifurcated Girls Special Issue—"bifurcated" in this case meaning that women (stop the presses!) actually have legs—this daring young lady appears to be straddling the fence with bloomers bunched up under her trousers. (The editors are focused on something else, however: "She had been dressing in her brother's clothes and had gotten as far as the vest, when she suddenly realized that she had forgotten to put on the shirt. Oh dear, how silly she felt! She wouldn't have had her brother know the mistake she made for the world." Although, once she had gotten into his pants, who really cares about the shirt?!) Feminist Amelia Bloomer did not actually invent the pouffy pantaloons, but was a prominent advocate of this advance over the constricting corsets of previous generations. In fact, "bloomers" (like "suffragette," a derisive term contrived by the press) were invented by Elizabeth Smith Miller of Peterboro, New York. In 1909, Paris designer Paul Poiret attempted a revival of the bloomer costume with a combination of "harem pants" and a long tunic, but he was apparently a bit ahead of his time as well. According to Wikipedia, when he "presented the Russian Princess Bariatinsky with a Confucius coat with an innovative kimono-like cut, for instance, she exclaimed, 'What a horror! When there are low fellows who run after our sledges and annoy us, we have their heads cut off, and we put them in sacks just like that.'" Pants have been worn by women for over a century now, both for work (pantsuits) and play (party pants!) and women's fashion is now a participatory sport. The typo Partipants was found five times in OhioLINK and 57 times in WorldCat.

(From Vanity Fair, June 6, 1903, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hisstor* (for History, etc.)

On today's date in 1948, the House Un-American Activities Committee held the first congressional hearing ever aired on television. Known as "Confrontation Day," it consisted of contradictory testimony by former Communists and Soviet spies Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers. The former had been a lawyer, author, and government official involved in the establishment of the United Nations. Hiss was not actually charged with espionage as the the statute of limitations had run out; however, he was charged and convicted on two counts of perjury. (Chambers was a cooperating government witness, so no charges were brought against him.) Although the hearing was held on a day of "infernal heat," twelve hundred spectators were admitted and scores of others gathered outside. Only one in ten Americans had ever watched a television program, but millions tuned in to this dramatic and divisive hearing. Whether or not Hiss was truly a spy is debated to this very day. His story may not be uncovered for a couple of decades, though, since HUAC's records were sealed in 1976 for another fifty years. The typo Hisstor* was discovered ten times in OhioLINK (including one possible antiquated spelling from 1744 and one publisher name: HisStory) and 66 times in WorldCat.

(Alger Hiss, American statesman accused of espionage, from the Library of Congress's New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hoffmann + Hoffman (for Hoffman or Hoffmann)

On August 24, 1967, Abbie Hoffman and his merry band of "Yippies," less flippantly known as the Youth International Party, threw a pretty excellent one when they started throwing both real and fake dollar bills down from the viewing gallery of the New York Stock Exchange, causing trading to temporarily grind to a halt as brokers scrambled all over themselves trying to pick them up. C'mon now, that's still funny, and would probably go down exactly the same way, and be just as funny (or sad) today. Hoffman said they had no intention of alerting the press ("media events" hadn't been invented yet), but the story was nevertheless reported all over the world. Funny but frugal, the Yippies supposedly spent between $30 and $300 on this valuable stunt. On the other hand, the stock exchange subsequently laid out twenty grand to enclose the gallery in bulletproof glass. Don't get greedy now, but today's typo is worth 450 hits in OhioLINK, and 22 in WorldCat—in 1967 alone (with "too many records found for your search" otherwise).

(Abbie Hoffman visiting the University of Oklahoma to protest the Vietnam War, circa 1969, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amusment* (for Amusement*)

Hah! I hate what I've come to refer to as "mirthless laughter." Especially when it's paired with feigned incredulity. You know, the way some people will mask their hostility with a fake little puff of air (or in more versatile mouths, a series of tiny exhalations), often accompanied by an eye roll, an insincere smile, a weary head shake, or an unconvincing "That's hilarious." And I also hate the way there seems to be no real word for it. Snorting is the best I can come up with, and that doesn't quite capture the phony amusement part. Maybe a French phrase is what's called for in this case. Something like rire sans joie. You'll often hear it in a court of law, when a witness is presented with some evidence or an accusation they clearly wish to deny. It's sort of like when people use the words honey or sweetheart as a putdown. It's like taking something that is only in the world to do good, and then poisoning or corrupting it. Or at the very least, kind of mussing it up. I'm not trying to be funny here, but we found three examples of Amusment* in OhioLINK today, and 72 in WorldCat.

(Announcement in a cafe in Oirschot, the Netherlands, September 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 22, 2011

Releven* (for Relevan*)

I know a kid who's turning eleven this week, which makes it a relevant typo of the day for me, and a typically red letter day for him. It marks the end of an era, the demise of a decade, the beginning of a respite before being thrust into the hurly-burly of impending puberty. He's a very sweet and beamish boy. I was recently reciting the poem "Kubla Khan" and when I got to the verse that goes: It was a miracle of rare device, a sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice, his eyes opened wide and he murmured, "That sounds nice." Later we were enjoying "ice cubes" made out of fruit juice; mine was orange and I observed, "This is like a little burst of frozen sunshine." He immediately stuck out his hand for me to shake, saying: "That's the best description I've ever heard!" This is the best description, or at least my current favorite, for a wonderful young man who deserves a great many happy returns of the day. We got 34 returns today on Releven* in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

("Eleven" graffiti in Oakland, California, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fexib* (for Flexib*)

Senate bill S5244-2011, recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, grants the NYS Board of Regents the so-called flexibility to order the New York State Library to close on a weekday by updating a law that required it to be open Monday through Friday. When the Library (which shares a building with the State Museum and State Archives) opened on Saturdays last October in the midst of a budget crisis, it was paid for by closing the State Museum on Sunday. When that created an uproar, this legislation was passed in order to reopen the Museum to visitors on Sunday by closing the Library and Archives to researchers on a weekday, thereby doubling down on a dumb idea. This confers an air of fecklessness onto an already stressed out and vastly depleted workforce, in addition to the public it purportedly claims to serve. (Not to mention the legislators and administrators largely responsible for the longstanding fiscal fiasco we call our operating budget.) While adding hours on Saturday (the slowest day of the week) was a worthy goal, the Library's principal clientele is dependent upon "normal" weekday hours, and it depends on far more staff and service considerations than the guards, janitors, and gift-shop volunteers who basically run the Museum on weekends. Simply put, the Library can not be expected to "shutter its doors" for one or two days a week just so it can align itself with the busiest traffic day of the Museum, which has an entirely different mission. It might be a feel-good PR move to continue squeezing the remaining Library staff since instituting Saturday hours nine months ago, on the heels of drastic layoffs, but we are only just so flexible. Regrettably, this is just another sad chapter in the decline of this formerly great research institution, which can no longer even afford to buy books. Remember them? Fexib* was found seven times in OhioLINK and 105 times in WorldCat.

(The Cultural Education Center, which houses the New York State Library, the State Museum, and the State Archives, June 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid (with help from the staff)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paul* + Pual* (for Paul*)

Today marks the 91st anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote. There are probably very few women alive anymore who remember the days when women were denied that right. The shocking abuse suffered by suffragists who chained themselves in protest to the White House gates during the Wilson administration, and were subsquently arrested for their efforts, ensured that they barely made it out alive as well. One strung up by the wrists all night, another beaten unconscious, they were given only dirty water and worm-infested "slop" to subsist on while in jail. When Alice Paul initiated a hunger strike, she was violently force-fed until she vomited; this "torture" continued for weeks until word was leaked out to the press. Such treatment was even worse in England, where the battle for women's suffrage was valiantly led by Sylvia and Emmeline Pankhurst. However, not all men back then were such brutes and bigots. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was the author of the opinion upholding ratification of the 19th Amendment in Leser v. Garnett, which concerned an attempt to prevent two women from voting in Maryland. As Mrs. Banks and her friends pointedly, if rather understatedly, put it in the song "Sister Suffragette" from the movie Mary Poppins: "Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid..." Today's grouped typo turns up 31 times in OhioLINK and 422 times in WorldCat. Let's all pull together today and lift the pall over these misspelled records.

(Studio portrait of Alice Paul printed in The Suffragist, 1915, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Necces* (for Necess*)

There are many necessities of life and, while memories of candy consumed as a kid may not actually be one of them, they often seem to be compelling components of a satisfied adulthood. Necco Wafers are a strangely muted confection that I still can recall, although I haven't had one in decades. They came stacked in a waxy plain paper wrapper and an assortment of "flavors" that all tasted sort of similar, despite the variability of their pale, dusty colors. I particularly liked the chocolate ones. Apparently, Necco-ish wafers have been around since 1847, when they were made by Chase and Company of Massachusetts. The candy was "incorporated under its current name in 1901" and began to be widely advertised as "Necco Wafers" in 1912. In 2009, "New Necco Wafers" were rolled out as a more "natural" alternative to the original. The new line also improved on the old chocolate variety ("previously," says Wikipedia, "a vanilla flavor with a hint of chocolate flavoring") by giving it a "more intense all-cocoa flavor." It even now comes in a four-flavor assortment: mocha, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark. Wow, maybe Neccos are a necessity after all! There were 64 cases of Necces* found in OhioLINK today, and a whopping 1,235 (sugarly, I mean surely, not all typos) in WorldCat. You won't necessarily find this one in your own library's catalog, but I'm willing to stick my neck out and bet you a case of wafers that you will.

P.S. I've been informed that a segment on NPR's "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" featuring Neko Case revealed the fascinating fact that Necco Wafers were among the rations given to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

(Necco water tower, painted in 1996 to look like a roll of Necco Wafers, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2004, from Wikimedia Commons.)/span>

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Newm* + Nuem* (for Neum* or Newm*)

Holy Meow, Batman, Julie Newmar (TV's first "Catwoman") is turning 78 today and still looks purr-fect. Julie's father was head of the Physical Education Department at Los Angeles City College and it looks as if he taught her well! There must have been something in the catnip back then (or, not to be catty, but the plastic surgeon's office now) because both Julie Newmar (briefly engaged to the wonderfully named writer of midlevel westerns, Louis L'Amour) and the kittenish Eartha Kitt continued to beguile and bewitch their fans long past the point at which most actresses are consigned to the doghouse. The equally campy Afred E. Neuman is known for his MADcap utterance: "What, me worry?" But as a cataloger, you probably should worry when it comes to possible typos Neum* (for Newm*) and vice versa. There were 97 examples of this dynamic duo in OhioLINK and 604 in WorldCat, although many of these are legitimate cases involving more than one person. (Another bit of Newmar trivia I truly love: as an avid gardener, she once did ferocious battle with Los Angeles leaf blowers in an attempt to effect a temporary ban.)

(Actress Julie Newmar at the 2007 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Ribbon of Hope Celebration, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chariman* (for Chairman)

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of the largest charitable givers in the world, having donated "$235 million to more than 200 organizations promoting education and health" in 2008 alone. Bloomberg is clearly not a chary man. According to the New York Times, Hizzoner plans to ultimately part with nearly his entire fortune, saying that "the best measure of a philanthropist is that the check to the undertaker bounces." As generous as Bloomberg is with his money, he is just as unguarded in his speech. In a 2001 article in New York Magazine entitled "Chairman Mike," the "charismatic CEO" is reported to have boldly issued such politically incorrect statements as: "If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they'd go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale's." Ouch. And yet his broadminded, Big Apple constituents loved and forgave him. And elected him. Three times. We got 35 hits on today's typo in OhioLINK, and 643 in WorldCat.

(Mayor Bloomberg with Spider-Man at Midtown Comics Downtown, Nov. 19, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 12, 2011

By by (for By)

Maybe it's such a short little word that we subconsciously imagine two that are better than one. Or perhaps it's the way it reminds us of one of the first words that a baby learns, and we were all babies once. Or, more likely, it's because after we type it, we often pause to check the name that comes next and then forget we've already done it and type it again. I'm really not sure why it is, but By by (for by) is an exceedingly common typo—there were 582 of them in OhioLINK alone. By the by, this one qualifies as a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list and has never been blogged about before, so by golly, it's high time it's given its due. Of course, considering that the word by occurs in many, if not most, bibliographic records, there are bound to be quite a few of these errors in your catalogs*. Like leaving a good party (or even a bad one), it may take you a little while, but try and say "Bye bye" to every one you find there.

*Note that "by" is often treated as a "stopword" and that different systems require different methods of phrase searching, so you may need to first figure out how to search for this kind of typo in your own database. In mine, I had to write [single quote, double quote] by by [double quote, single quote].

(Cast members in the 2009 production of Bye Bye Birdie at the Regals Musical Society in Sydney, Australia, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Defination* (for Definition*)

Once, when my lovely and literate grandmother was still alive, we were playing a game (now commercially produced and known as Balderdash, but back then a strictly DIY affair) at our great-aunt's cabin on a place called "Lake Desolation." You find some obscure word in the dictionary, everyone guesses at the meaning or makes up a fake definition for it, then you mix them all together with the real definition and the players vote on which one they think is correct. My word was furfuraceous, which my grandmother cutely, if a tad predictably, defined as "like a beautiful long fur coat." (In an excess of sentimentality, perhaps, I tucked away and still have the little slip of paper she wrote it on.) The actual definition, though, continues to strike me as both hilarious and absurd: resembling bran; branlike. My grandmother was an early adopter of "health food" and probably had numerous bags and jars of bran in her cupboard at any given time, whereas she most likely had never owned a fur coat in her entire life. (Although she was a bit of a flapper back in the day, so who knows, maybe she did.) I can't say that you will definitely find this one in your own database, but there were eight cases of Defination* in OhioLINK this morning and 168 in WorldCat.

(Photograph of wheat bran, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Noth and North (for North or Noth)

Ring Lardner was a boon companion of F. Scott Fitzgerald, about whom we blogged yesterday, and for whom he's said to have inspired the character Abe North in the 1934 novel Tender Is the Night. Lardner was also a favorite of J.D. Salinger, who made him Holden Caulfield's favorite writer in the book Catcher in the Rye. (Film buffs may regard him primarily as the father of Ring Lardner, Jr., the blacklisted screenwriter who was a member of the "Hollywood Ten.") Ring Lardner was a sports columnist and short story writer in the 1920s and, although wildly popular at the time, is often considered by his critics and fans to be sadly underrated today. My favorite Lardner story is called "The Young Immigrunts," a parody of Daisy Ashford's The Young Visiters. It contains this classic exchange between father and son on a long car trip from Chicago to "Grenitch," Connecticut: Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly. Shut up he explained. We found 15 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, about half of which were correct spellings, such as Chris Noth of Sex and the City fame or other proper names. However, if you truncate both search terms, the count jumps to 724. Not for nothing do we caution you, especially in cases like this one, to closely examine the work itself before making any amendments to a record.

(Photo of Ring Lardner, April 1921, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fitgerald* (for Fitzgerald*)

Having just seen the marvelous Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris, and then rereading The Great Gatsby while on vacation in the Adirondacks, I decided to blog today about the celebrated writer from St. Paul, Minnesota, who both coined and embodied the famous epochal phrase "the Jazz Age." F. Scott Fitzgerald was named for Francis Scott Key (his third cousin twice removed) and married to Zelda Sayre, whom he dubbed "the first American Flapper." While the couple was doted on by an adoring press and regarded as the toast of the Roaring Twenties, Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental illness combined to produce a fitful marriage. Their relationship is fictionally depicted in Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night as well as in Zelda's sole novel, Save Me the Waltz. There were twenty cases of Fitgerald* in OhioLINK this morning and 225 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda, taken at Dellwood, September 1921, shortly before the birth of their daughter Scottie, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beua* (for Beau*, etc.)

What's the weather like out, folks a couple hundred years ago, just like those of today, would ask. And the answer, my friend—according to Irish-born hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort—was blowing in the wind. Like many great innovators, Beaufort had found his calling at an early age: when he was 15, he was shipwrecked on account of a faulty nautical chart. In Scott Huler's book Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry, we learn the original scale included such whimsical descriptions as "smoke rises vertically," "wind felt on face," "small trees in leaf start to sway," and "chimney pots and slates removed." It has seen many modifications over the years, such as Michael Green's satirical The Art of Coarse Sailing, in which various-force winds manifest as "cigarette smoke gets in eyes," "beer froth blows off," "elderly customers have difficulty in leaving pub," and "coarse sailor hit by falling sign." Today's typo is a real beaut as well and turns up, like a trembling leaf on a tree branch, 14 times in OhioLINK (note: not all of these are typos for beau*) and 328 times in WorldCat. It ranks as a "moderate probability" typo on the Ballard scale.

(Portrait of Sir Francis Beaufort, by Stephen Pearce, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 5, 2011

Concentrai* (for Concentrat*)

If you find yourself in the American Midwest this weekend and see a large concentration of identical pairs, you're not losing your mind. Beginning August 5th and running all weekend is the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Twins, triplets, and other multiples from all over gather in Twinsburg for the celebration, which this year has an optional circus costume theme. Events involve contests, sports, fireworks, a Double Take Parade, and a talent show. Researchers also visit the town, inviting twins to sign up for particular projects, which include studies on fingerprinting, facial ageing, infectious diseases, and more.

Concentrai* is a low probability typo that occurs nearly 330 times in WorldCat.

(Image of twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen from

Leanne Olson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aughust* (for August*)

Apparently August is a tricky word to spell. Although most of the permutations of misspellings surrounding the month appear as low or very low probability typos on the Ballard List, there are enough of them to make it worth paying special attention to this month.

So far, we've identified Aughust, Augist, Auguts, Auguust, Augiust, Augukst, Augut, Auqust, and Auqust.

What’s up with our inability to get “August” right? Are we cataloguers all a little addled from the heat and sun? Or perhaps we've been getting ready early for tomorrow, August 5, which is International Beer Day?

(Image of the hot August sun from Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dipthong* (for Diphthong*)

A diphthong or "gliding vowel" occurs where there are two adjacent vowel sounds in the same syllable. They occur with most English speakers in the words hay, out, and boy, for example.

I'm no phonetician, but as a Canadian I'm familiar with the phenomenon called Canadian raising -- our English speakers will often "raise" the diphthong before a voiceless consonant such as t or k. That is, we give the second vowel sound in the diphthong more prominence (with volume or pitch). Strangely, the common stereotype is that we say "aboot" rather than "about" but in actuality, many have observed that most Canadians pronounce it like "aboat" (as in, what you'd call the canoe in today's photo). And, of course, there are numerous regional variations!

The about/aboot/aboat discussion can be quite controversial, since some Canadians avow that they have no discernible accent. Me, I like to ramp mine up while travelling and throw in a few extra "eh?"s. Americans are always very helpful and friendly when approached by a silly lost Canadian!

Don't forget the first H in diphthong: dipthong* is a low probability typo on the Ballard List.

(Canoe off the shore of Toronto photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Carraige* (for Carriage*)

Dalmatian is one of those words I've had trouble with all my life, despite having read Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians at a young age. At least I'm not alone -- Dalmation* is a high probability error that occurs almost 900 times in WorldCat! However, Dalmation isn't today's typo...what do Dalmatians have to do with carriages, you ask?

Dalmatians in North America are often associated with fire fighters and are adopted as mascots for fire houses. However, they weren't always just for show and companionship. When horse-drawn fire carriages (not carraiges) were used, the Dalmatians ran ahead of the horses, finding a clear path. They were also kept by aristocrats for their interesting coats and as companions for the horses. In addition to running with the carriages, Dalmatians frequently lived in the stalls and slept with the horses at night.

Carraige* occurs less frequently than Dalmation, appearing just over 150 times in WorldCat. Might want to check your library catalogue for both!

(Dalmation puppy photo from

Leanne Olson

Monday, August 1, 2011

Biogapher* (for Biographer*)

The month of August was named for the first Roman emperor. Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus (there's a mouthful), he was later named Gaius Julius Caesar after his uncle. To keep things confusing, he was granted the honourific "The Revered One" and became Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus.

The Emperor Augustus was a handsome man, described by the biographer (not biogapher, a moderate probability typo) Suetonius as follows: "He had clear, bright eyes...His teeth were wide apart, small, and ill-kept; his hair was slightly curly and inclining to golden." Aside from the backhanded teeth comment, Augustus sounds like the perfect inspiration for a summer month with those golden highlights. One can almost picture him running down the beach in a scene from Baywatch: Greece.

More about the naming of our 8th month can be found in our August entry from 2009.

(Photo of a statue of Augustus from Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson