Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lenglish* (for English)

Or at least I think it's for English. I'm so fascinated looking at the Ballard List, because, seriously, there are times when I either don't know what the typo is supposed to be, or how someone could make it. This falls in the latter category. Please do not think that I'm looking down on any sort of typo, Lord knows I've made at least my share of them. But the L is way on the other side of the keyboard from the E which starts the word.

So for consolation, I tell myself that perhaps it's not a typo at all, but is like Spanglish, but with Latin instead. Then I realized we already have a word for English with Latin. It's, well, English.

It could be "languish," I suppose. It's a stretch, but languish is such a great word. "I languish in a deep dark drama." Sounds like an existential poem I would've written in college. Actually, I think the next time I'm feeling theatrical (it happens) I'm going to do my best Edward Gorey and clutch - nay, brandish! - a strand of pearls and collapse on the fainting couch vociferating "Languish! Languish!"

There are other ways of misspelling English on the Ballard List such as "Engish" and "Englsh" which I can completely understand. But with an L at the beginning...what did I do with those pearls?

(Photograph of Sarah Bernhardt from Wikipedia. She's so great - I could only wish to languish with so much style and grace.)

Brian Dahlvig

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Indusr* Industi* Industra* Industrializai* (for Industrial*)

My my, people appear to be rather industrious when it comes to misspelling today's word. Misspelling and typos for industrial shows up throughout the Ballard list on different levels in different spelling. The four I listed are just a few.

Speaking of industrial - in this case a huge industrial misstep - Henry Ford was sick of sharing profits from his cars with Goodyear and/or Firestone tires and decided to open his own rubber manufacturing plant in Brazil in 1928. But, like any good colonialist, just producing the rubber wasn't enough. Henry built himself a town which he christened Fordlandia. Not only was it a self-contained company town, it also followed the American lifestyle of consuming hamburgers and not consuming alcohol. One wonders if prohibition would been repealed there as it was here several years later. We'll never know as, unfortunately for Mr. Ford, the workers rebelled, chasing the managers into the jungle until they were rescued by Brazilian army.

Ford tried opening another plant in a different part of Brazil, but between blight and the invention of synthetic rubber in 1945, his industrial Utopian ideal dried up and the land was sold at a loss of $20 million. (Eh, probably needed the tax write-off anyway.)

For more information, you c
an read about Fordlandia in fiction, non-fiction, a French comic book, or hear an orchestral piece named after it. You industrial types will have plenty of time do your research before the movie comes out next year.

(Still taken from the in-public-domain film Man with a Movie Camera directed by Dziga Vertov - 1929. Sorry for any confusion - it has nothing to do with Fordlandia or Henry Ford, I just like the industrial look of the photo.)

Brian Dahlvig

Monday, February 27, 2012

Z California (for California)

Although Z California hardly shows up at all as a typo in catalogs, last night was the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards, otherwise known at the Oscars, otherwise known as "the Superbowl for people who don't like football*," so I had to write something on it. While the Awards are held in California, the motion picture business was not always centered there.

Built by the Thomas Edison Company, the first movie studio in the United States was the Black Maria in Orange, New Jersey. Built in 1892, it was used to film 90-second single-take films of people and things in movement. New York and New Jersey then became the undisputed centers for the film industry. It wasn't until 14 years later that things even started happening in Southern California...

The first film shot in the Los Angeles area was by the Biograph Company (based in New York), "A Daring Hold-Up" in 1906.

The first studio in the Los Angeles area - but not Hollywood - was established by the Selig Polyscope Company in Edendale, with construction beginning in August 1909.

D. W. Griffith was the first to direct a motion picture in Hollywood proper. His 17-minute short film "In Old California" was released in March 1910, by the Biograph Company.

Nestor Motion Picture Company was the first Hollywood-based studio. They started filming production in October 1911.

The first feature film (over an hour) made at a Hollywood-based studio was "The Squaw Man," directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel in 1914.

Not till 1915, however, did California beat the East Coast in film output.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Ah, the Black Maria – the epitome of movie romance!)

*Attributed to me, just now.

Brian Dahlvig

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yourt* (for Your, Youth, etc.)

Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss was a hard-shelled hard sell, and not just because it was an allegory about Hitler. It seems that nobody had ever "burped" before in the pages of a children's book—a somewhat quaint notion nowadays when kiddie best-sellers are entirely devoted to topics such as farting and pooping. Speaking of the joys of youth, however, the childless Dr. Seuss was inarguably one of the best things to happen to young people (if not all people) during the past hundred years or so. Theodor Geisel did not start out intending to be a children's author, though. As a matter of fact, he had an awfully hard time convincing publishers of the merits of his first attempt, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. (Which just goes to show ... something, I'm not quite sure what. Something about the value of perseverance, perhaps, or the difficulty in recognizing true genius. Or maybe it was Seuss's original title, "A Story That No One Can Beat"—which may have made certain crabbed publishing houses inclined to try and do just that.) There were 21 instances of Yourt* in OhioLINK (a little over half of which were typos) and 350 in WorldCat. So check it out today in your own catalog. A misspent youth is one thing; a misspelt one is quite another.

(Cover of Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yelows* (for Yellows*)

Hello! I once knew a beautiful baby who pronounced the word yellow as "lello." Which actually seems rather appropriate, somehow, like a contraction of "lemon yellow." Or let's say if Yellow were a person, he'd be a soft-spoken, mellow sort of fellow, disinclined to shout or yell. Last night on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda repays a loan by buying Mary the cute convertible she'd had her eye on. Only, in order to get the great deal she got, she had to get the car in yellow. And, as it turns out, Mary hates yellow. Georgette, in typical fashion, tries to reassure her: "Yellow's a lovely color, Mary. It's the color of the sun, and wheatfields..." "Ticonderoga pencils..." adds Rhoda. "And daffodils," continues Georgette, "and lemons... Oops, I shouldn't have said that!" Yellow is my favorite color too. It's both happy (flowers, sunshine, smiley faces) and nostalgic (yellowing paper, antiques, sepia tints). There are many shades of yellow, but not too many ways to misspell it, it seems. There was only one instance of Yellos* in OhioLINK (and several in WorldCat, most qualified with a "sic") and four of Yelows* (zero in WorldCat). (We also got 40 hits on Yello, but at least 25 of those were false hits, mostly for the musical group Yello.)

(Baby playing with yellow paint, work by Dutch artist Peter Klashorst, entitled Experimental, 28 February 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Transcib*, Transcip* (for Transcrib*, Transcrip*)

Typos can frequently be quite funny, but it's rare that I come away beaming ecstatically at the mere sight of them. Today, on the way into work, I stopped to look at some of the local children's art on display in honor of Black History Month. The older these students are, I've found, the more predictable their offerings (often just "I Have a Dream" scribbled in the word balloon of a black guy), but the younger ones can be really sweet and inventive. The entry I saw today spelled it out as follows: "I can show peace by cleaning the earth. by helping my baby cosines to sleep. by helping my naber to cary his sootcase. by helping my frends recicle." (At first, I read that last word as reconcile, but on second thought, it's got to be recycle.) I didn't have time to copy the whole thing down, misspellings and all, but as I glanced up, my eye was caught by a nearby advertisement that read: "Transcription with a smile!" Still grinning, I vowed to stop by later to transcribe the label written by today's color-blind little helper. We found five cases of Transcib* (for transcribe, etc.) and 42 of Transcip* (for transcript, etc.) in OhioLINK, plus 292 and 1,098 in WorldCat. Help clean up your own database by checking for today's typos and ensuring that all original language is properly transcribed.

(African American boy, sitting on debris in the wake of the 1900 hurricane, Galveston, Texas, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shelly* + Shelley* (for Shelley*or Shelly*)

In the uncannily cast Robert Altman vehicle Popeye, the most marvelous match-up of all is the amazing Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, a role that the director felt she had been born to play, and a resemblance for which Shelley had often been teased as a child. It isn't just her impossibly belle laide looks—her lanky, leggy, wiggly, giggly, geeky sensuality. It's also her squeaky speech patterns, her cascading cadences, and her overall sensibilities. When she warbles comparatively about her putative boyfriend Bluto ("He's Large") and his seafaring, spinach-squeezing rival, Popeye ("He Needs Me"), she poignantly limns not a few other landladies' romantic dilemmas. Popeye was highly underrated by moviegoers and critics alike, in my humble opinion (and happily enough, in Roger Ebert's as well). If you missed this quirky sleeper when it first came out in 1980, it's well worth renting and watching for Shelley Duvall alone. In honor of Duvall's flawless turn as Olive Oyl, let's be sure and correct any misspelt Shelly/Shelleys that may show up in our catalogs today, shall we? We found 143 contenders for this typo in OhioLINK and 1,243 in WorldCat.

(Still frame from the 1936 animated cartoon Little Swee' Pea, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 20, 2012

Labarat* (for Laborat*)

The first dog I ever remember owning was called Mitzi, a gentle black Labrador-collie cross with long black silky-soft hair. I was even told that I had somehow named her myself, in a confused child's voice, perhaps intending to say something else, I'm really not sure. But whenever I hear Mitzi Gaynor (though her tresses were curly and blonde) singing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" from South Pacific, I find myself thinking about our old dog Mitzi with the wavy black hair. (Fun fact: Mitzi Gaynor was born Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber.) Mitzi (the dog) also indirectly taught me my first lesson in dirty words, censorship, and social niceties, and how, in a nutshell, context is everything. One time, at a tender age and family gathering, I was amusing myself by matching up the guests and and then switching the first letters of their names. Romeo and Juliet, Jomeo and Ruliet. That kind of thing. When I had gotten through all the people present and was down to the dogs, Mitzi and Sherry (the latter being a blameless little Pekingese belonging to my grandparents), a concerned female relative hastily drew me aside. Let's just say I stepped right into that one! Mitzi was a lovely pooch and I'm sorry to have sullied her sainted name. A name that still sounds to me sort of half German, half gibberish, half Gaynor. By the way, speaking of great canines, I just passed along my old dog-eared [!] college copy of Sirius by Olaf Stapledon (subtitled "a fantasy of love and discord") to a very worthy young reader I know. I am now eagerly awaiting his review of this 1944 British sci fi novel about the relationship between a girl named Plaxy and her beloved dog Sirius, a highly complex creature who had been conceived in a laboratory. So here's to Labs, labs, labels, labors, and pretty much all things labial and labile. There were ten cases of today's typo in OhioLINK this morning, and 229 in WorldCat.

(Olaf Stapledon, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feburary, etc. (for February)

My extended family seems to have more members born in February, including me, than any other month of the year. And a new one was just added last week! February has the fewest days of all the months, although it probably has the most ways to misspell it. I've found at least four of them in OhioLINK so far and there are likely even more than that: Feburary (48), Febuary (37), Februray (18), and Februay (3). As a librarian, you should definitely know how to spell this word correctly, but don't feel too bad if you can't quite say it right. According to Wikipedia: "Many people pronounce ... [February] ... as if it were spelled 'Feb-u-ary'. This comes about by analogy with 'January' ... as well as by a dissimilation effect whereby having two r's close to each other causes one to change for ease of pronunciation. The Scots-language names for the month are Feberwary and Februar, the latter usually pronounced with a long 'ay' in the first syllable..." Aarrgh, too many R's are harrd to arrticulate. (Especially while having to say Brrr at the very same time.) But, like the (mythical) Father of Our Country, I can not tell a fib: February is a fabulous month, with four separate syllables (let's call 'em the Feb Four) that really are quite easy to enunciate if you just take your time. And, fortunately, it's spelled just like it sounds!

(Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 2, verso: February, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Suburd* (for Suburb* or Subord*)

James Howard Kunstler is the Saratoga-based author of several books on the history and future of suburbia and urban design. He lectures frequently on these topics, along with the "global oil predicament" and "resultant change in the American Way of Life," says Wikipedia, and is a "leading proponent of the movement known as New Urbanism." His works include Geography of Nowhere, Home from Nowhere, The City in Mind, and The Long Emergency. He is also the author of ten novels and a play. We found two examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 57 in WorldCat. The overwhelming majority were for words like suburbs or suburban, although a few were for words like subordinate or subordination. When I first saw the record for a work from Brussels about roads and highway planning, I assumed it was just another case of Suburd* for suburb*. However, this one surprised me. The typo occurred in a 500 note: "Shows administrative suburdination of roads, road condition, and planned highways." So if you decide to take your Suburu out on the road today, please make sure your needs are equal or subordinate to those of your fellow drivers and dwellers, both urban and suburban. And don't forget to clean up this burdensome typo wherever you find it, marring the landscape of your catalog and disrupting the flow of information. (Coincidentally, right after composing this post, I saw a local news item about how the quiz show "Jeopardy!" on Tuesday night used a picture of a boarded-up section of Sheridan Avenue in Albany to illustrate the concept of "urban blight." Burn.)

(James Howard Kunstler, 27 December 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brussells (for Brussels)

It's time to start thinking about the garden again. This year I want to plant a lot of Brussels sprouts. If you're also a fan of le petit chou, you know how good the little darlings can be either roasted or steamed. But I recently discovered that they make a delicious and delicate coleslaw as well, substituting for the bigger and somewhat rougher cabbage. Recently, I had to set aside my copy of Villette (which I was reading on the strenuous recommendation of a friend) because I could only understand un peu de français, Charlotte Brontë's second language, the mastery of which she was seemingly showing off a bit in the book. I've since been presented with the Oxford annotated edition, however, and am once again enjoying this quasi-autobiographical novel. (Along with her sister Emily, Charlotte went to Brussels in 1842 to attend the pensionnat, or boarding school, of Constantin Heger, and returned the following year to take up a teaching post there.) If you're not yet persuaded that you too should be reading Villette, the wonderful Brussels-Brontë Group website may be able to sell you on the idea. Unlike sell and spell, the word Brussels has two S's and one L, which seems to make it a little bit tricky. There were 21 hits on this typo in OhioLINK, and 414 in WorldCat.

(Digitally restored version of the damaged portrait of the Brontë sisters by Patrick Branwell Brontë, from Wikimedia Commons. From left to right: Anne, Emily, and Charlotte.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valetin* (for Valentin*)

February is Black History Month and its midpoint, Feb. 14th, is Valentine's Day. Although the particular valentine pictured to the right incorporates numerous stereotypes about African Americans (watermelons, non-standard patois, ragged clothing, and over-large lips), an argument could be made (just like with the "N word") that, when it comes to matters such as these, offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. "Pickaninnies" like this one were commonly seen throughout 20th-century American art and culture; nowadays such iconic images are considered racist almost by definition. Spike Lee raises the otherwise taboo topic of blackface and minstrelsy in the 2000 film Bamboozled, an arguably misunderstood and unfairly maligned effort on the part of an otherwise greatly admired director. I know a (white) person who walked out in protest during the first few minutes of this movie and Roger Ebert himself gave it a thoughtfully bad review. There were 12 examples of Valetin* (for valentin*) in OhioLINK today, and 364 in WorldCat.

(Black Americana Valentine, circa 1940, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 13, 2012

Evoltion* (for Evolution*)

Charles Darwin, born on February 12, 1809, seems to have grown, or dare I say evolved, into his looks, but perhaps you'll forgive me for choosing this somewhat sketchy portrait of him in his prime, considering his own blatant double standard when it came to the (not necessarily always) "fairer sex." I mean, come on, somebody's got to say it, what with that sloping forehead and heavy brow, he resembles nothing so much as our closest hominid cousin, the ape. (Which does not make me a creationist, just a feminist.) I was reminded of Darwin's lasting legacy and contribution to science the other night when the New York State Museum once again celebrated his birthday with another installment of its wildly popular program "Cooking the Tree of Life." Their theme this time was milk and dairy products. We were treated to samples of Nettle Meadow's Crane Mountain Chevre and Old Chatham's Ewe's Blue, plus a couple of cheeses from Massachusetts—Maggie's Round from Cricket Creek in Williamstown and a raclette from Spring Brook Farm—along with some dessert made by what has to be one of the best-named bakeries ever: Cheesecake Machismo. In past years, the program has focused on vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, fungi, peppers, birds, sugar, yeast, etc. One of my favorite Darwin anecdotes emerged during the mushrooms and fungi event. Apparently, Darwin's daughter Henrietta hated the stinkhorn mushroom due to its uncanny resemblance to the human penis. "Etty" was a prude, but no wuss, it seems, aggressively collecting the offensive fungi in the woods around Cambridge with a pointed stick. "At the end of the day’s sport the catch was brought back and burnt in the deepest secrecy on the drawing room fire with the door locked—because of the morals of the maids." The typo Evoltion* was found four times in OhioLINK and 45 times in WorldCat.

(Pastel drawing of Charles Darwin by Samuel Laurence, 1853, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dickins* + Dickens* (for Dickens* or Dickins*)

The Dickens, you say! (According to Wordwizard, "the dickens" is a euphemistic expression or minced oath meaning "the devil," a corruption of the term "Old Nick.") No relation, however, Charles John Huffam Dickens was born 200 years ago this week, February 7, 1812, to be exact. While I haven't read a lot of Dickens (I'm told I should start, as he did, more or less, with his first published novel, The Pickwick Papers), I was fortunate recently to be given a sneak peek at a wonderful short story about Charles Dickens written by a colleague and as yet unpublished. It speaks to the deliciously arresting facts surrounding the Victorian author's relationship with his wife's sister, Georgina Hogarth. The unusual steps that Dickens ultimately took to reassure his gossiping neighbors of his sister-in-law's rectitude make for a tale worthy of his own pen. We discovered 122 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 921 in WorldCat, although there are bound to be some false hits among them.

(Portrait of Charles Dickens, daguerreotype, circa 1867-1868, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maude + Maud (for Maud or Maude)

Maud Lewis (1903–1970) was a Canadian "folk artist" whose homely reputation continues to grow despite her death over forty years ago. Born and raised in meager circumstances and stricken with a childhood disease that was apparently either polio or rheumatoid arthritis, Lewis simply ignored what in a lesser person would have been both crushing poverty and a crippling disability, in her cheerful quest to paint every single surface of her tiny house, including "pulp boards (beaverboards), cookie sheets, and Masonite." Her husband, Everett, a "taciturn fish peddler," encouraged his wife's budding talent and bought her her first set of paints. She began by creating Christmas cards, which the enterprising couple would take door to door along with the day's catch. As word gradually spread, the two started selling Maud's paintings for a few dollars each out of their home in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. Maud Lewis pieces currently fetch close to twenty thousand dollars. Not to be "maudlin" about it, but it's a very touching and heartwarming story. There were 48 examples of this typo in OhioLINK today, most of which were of the expected sort. However, the first hit was for a title by someone called, oddly enough, Maud Maude (actually, "Mrs. Maud Maude"), the author in 1890 of A Handbook of Pyrography, which apparently addresses yet another form of "folk art." We got 465 hits on this typo in WorldCat, some of which may also occur on records containing both forenames correctly spelled (i.e., for two different people).

(Maud Lewis, from the Folk Art Canada website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crysan* (for Chrysan*)

A constant reader and typo contributor from the Netherlands wrote us the other day to say that she had found 705 cases of Chrystal* in WorldCat, adding that this typo does not yet appear on the Ballard list. She's right, it doesn't, although we did in fact blog on the combined typo Chryst* + Cryt* (for Crystal, etc.) back in 2009. Since I'm currently in the process of memorizing the poem "The Dormouse and the Doctor" by A. A. Milne, I have decided today to feature the contrasting Crysan* (here the H is mistakenly omitted, rather than added to the word in question), a typo for chrysanthemum*. I loved this poem as a child, despite (or maybe even a bit because of) the fact that I was totally unfamiliar with delphiniums, and only vaguely aware of geraniums. And I'm pretty sure I didn't know what a dormouse was either, though I knew that one figured prominently in the book Alice in Wonderland. The Milne poem attempts to answer an age-old, if garden-variety, mystery by concluding: "And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said) / If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed / You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies / Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes." In this poem the unctuous yet clueless doctor prescribes for his patient "Milk and Massage-of-the-back," along with "Freedom-from worry and Drives-in-a-car," but mostly insists upon chrysanthemums (yellow and white). We found nine cases of today's typo in OhioLINK (six of which were for the expected errors, with two for various surnames and one for "Crysand Press"), plus 177 in WorldCat.

(Chrysanthemums, c. 1875, by James Tissot, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nigth* (for Night*)

Once again, Gawker is totally on top of the day's Big Apple-oriented typo news. A trendy (i.e., "brand new and still retro") Manhattan disco called XL had decided to hand out "membership" cards to potential customers. But in true too cool for school fashion, they misspelled the word night in the URL crawling discreetly up the side of the card. Back to the drawing board with this one, boys! (Gawker in fact suggests a bit of karmic retribution in that the disco's designer/promoter once instituted a color-coded card system ranking patrons according to physical attractiveness, and speculates that "maybe the uglies with the white XL card aren't pretty enough to visit the real website and they're just throwing them off the scent.") And while we're dishing the dirt here, let me just add that I saw an interview with Maurice Sendak the other day in which he brazenly and somewhat bizarrely took exception to a bunch of people including Salman Rushdie and Gwyneth Paltrow, but perhaps most notably his fellow kidlit icon Roald Dahl, of whom Sendak said it was "nice" that he was dead. (An interview well worth reading, I might add if this weren't already plainly apparent.) There were five cases of Nigth* (for night) in OhioLINK this morning, and 418 in WorldCat.

(Cover of the award-winning and controversial In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 6, 2012

Matrial* (for Material* or Martial*)

Arizona Donnie Clark was born in Ash Grove, Missouri, in 1873. Infamously known as "Ma Barker," she was the luckless mother of four crooked kids (Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred, aka the Barker-Karpis Gang). Like a good many mothers probably would, she did whatever she could, as Wikipedia puts it, "to protect her boys and to keep them out of jail." Although she herself was never accused of a crime, or otherwise hauled into court, her children were her trials. Herman committed suicide in 1927 after a lengthy shootout with police. By 1928, her other three sons were all in stir in either Kansas or Oklahoma. Their father, George Barker, had loyally stuck by his family, holding down various jobs throughout the years, but he finally left "Arrie" holding the bag full of his bad-seed boys. The common belief that "Ma Barker" was a criminal mastermind (found with a Tommy gun in her hands after being shot by federal agents, along with her son Fred, in 1935) is now considered to be a complete myth, promulgated by the FBI in order to justify the killing of a relatively innocent old woman. "Kate" Barker, of course, knew what her offspring were up to most of the time (although they would often "send her to the movies" during the commission of a crime), she was never much more than a mere accomplice, providing a certain sort of cover for them as their mother. OhioLINK is sheltering our typo of the day to the tune of 14 hits today, mostly for material*, with a couple for martial* thrown in there. Amazingly enough, we also found 1,184 cases in WorldCat. (I'm not really sure, but some of them might be Russian or Polish words, correctly spelled.)

(Kate Barker, ca. 1930, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wordworth* (for Wordsworth*)

Wordsworth is a word worth spelling well. In an article last week in the New York Daily News concerning the relative literacy of New Yorkers, based on an annual survey of U.S. cities (New York City placed a surprising 22nd, in a "statistical dead heat with Lexington, Kentucky"), the word literate was initially, and ironically, misspelled as "literatre." (This seems just as likely to be a typo for literature, but here the author clearly meant literate.) In defense of the typo, he wrote: "The reason that I made that mistake was because, while writing up my post, I was also reciting Wordworth's [sic] 'Tintern Abbey' and translating Proust into Sanskrit." Which he was then forced to follow up with: "Damn, and I misspelled Wordsworth. This is getting very bad. The truth is, I was watching YouTube videos of dachshund puppies, okay? Cleveland, you won fair and square." (I like his last-ditch choice of the word dachshund there as that's a notoriously hard word to spell.) Since I'm all about coincidence lately, let point out that yesterday's nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll was said by one reader to be "a remix of poems by Tennyson and Wordsworth," although it's apparently a direct parody of "Alice Gray" by William Mee.) There were 28 occurrences of this typo today in OhioLINK, and 402 in WorldCat. Some of these, however, were proper proper names or intentional "words" like wordworthy. You might do better, depending on the size of your catalog and the number of hits you receive, to do a combined search on Wordworth* + Wordsworth*, which returns a more manageable 18 results in OhioLINK and 218 in WorldCat.

(Wordsworth on Helvellyn, by Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1842, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Perseveren* (for Perseveran*)

Dan Savage has dubbed Newt Gingrich the reluctant, right-wing poster boy for polyamory (or "honest nonmonogamy"), based on allegations made by his second ex-wife. In a similar vein, I'd like to nominate the poem "She's All My Fancy Painted Him" by Lewis Carroll its absurdist anthem. ("Don't let him know she liked them best / For this must ever be / A secret, kept from all the rest / Between yourself and me.") A friend and total Lewis lover commended this poem to me the other day and I quickly fell head over heels. It has a nice bouncy rhythm and pleasing rhyme, although it's not an easy one to memorize, with its almost promiscuous plethora of personal pronouns. Nevertheless, I shall persevere. (One website goes out of its way to assure a questioner that "yes, this is a nonsense poem ... so there are no typos here.") Coincidentally, as I sat up reading it later that night, I managed to catch another classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode (and yet another Peter Pan collar!) called "The Return of Edwin Carp." The retired and retiring radio performer is coaxed back onstage, this time on television and without his customary glass of elderberry wine to calm his nerves. (Edwin's elderly mother calls him a "naughty wino" and he's resolved to quit drinking.) Richard Haydn, who played the voice of the Caterpillar in the 1951 Disney movie Alice in Wonderland, is masterful here and his poetry is sublimely facetious. In "Perseverance" (his tongue-in-cheek spoof of "It Couldn't Be Done" by Edgar Guest), he burbles: "So he buckled right in, with the trace of a grin on his face—if he worried he hid it—and he tackled that thing that couldn't be done ... and he couldn't do it!" I believe that Lewis Carroll would have been proud of Edwin Carp. Make me absurdly proud of you by tackling today's typo, which turned up 31 times in OhioLINK and 277 times in WorldCat.

(Richard Haydn in "The Return of Edwin Carp," The Dick Van Dyke Show.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fashon* (for Fashion*)

I was pleased to read an article on Slate recently stating that "Peter Pan collars" are currently back in vogue. Although I was never a boy and grew up ages ago, I still think they're the cat's pajamas. And I had a sort of funny little coincidence while thinking about that the other night. I was escaping into après-dinner TV nostalgia and reflecting on how I really like Mary Tyler Moore in black and white, but prefer Marlo Thomas in color, because her outfits on That Girl (Miss Thomas' Fashions by Cardinali) were so Sixties-style awesome and had such a saturated color palette. (Although, in fact, when the show originally aired, 1966–1971, I had to watch it in b&w, so maybe I'm simply enjoying it in color for the first time.) Just as this fairly frivolous thought was flitting through my head, a promo for MeTV popped up in which Thomas's character, Ann Marie, says: "Watch me in color or in black and white, but just watch me!" And then an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show came on and here comes Laura Petrie in the most fetching at-home ensemble consisting of black pants and top with large white buttons down the front and a cunning Peter Pan collar with white piping. (She must have been rather partial to the PPC as well, since she appeared sporting a similar look the following evening too.) There were 18 cases of Fashon* (for fashion) in OhioLINK today, and 103 in WorldCat.

(Mary Tyler Moore in "How to Spank a Star," The Dick Van Dyke Show.)

Carol Reid