Friday, November 30, 2012

Nobem* (for Novem*)

It might be a bit of a stretch (it can often be difficult coming up with decent puns for some of these), but I guess I'm gonna go with the 17th-century writer Aphra Behn today. (Great name, by the way, isn't that? It sounds a little like the first two letters of an imaginary alphabet, or perhaps part of a college sorority: "I'm pledged to Aphra Aphra Behn.") It might be better if today's typo were Noben* rather than Nobem*, but let's try and work with what we've got here. A friend was talking about women novelists throughout history the other day, so I asked him if he knew about Aphra Behn. No, he answered, sounding slightly puzzled. I don't think most people do. While relatively few details are known about her life, it looks as though Behn may have been born in the month of November, since she was apparently baptized Eaffry Johnson on December 14, 1640. Considered the first woman to earn money by writing (along with Delarivier Manley and Eliza Haywood, Behn was one of what was called "the fair triumvirate of wit"), she is best known for her books The Rover, Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, and Oroonoko. A fervent Catholic and monarchist, Behn operated as an English spy in the Netherlands and later served time in debtor's prison. Although her life and literature are currently studied in universities, Harold Bloom once called the "resurgent popularity" of Aphra Behn a case of "dumbing down." However, Virginia Woolf claimed that Behn's career, along with her distinction as the first woman novelist, were far more significant than the actual works that she produced. Despite her checkered past and her various friends and foes, Aphra Behn may have summed it up best in the inscription on her tombstone: "Here lies a Proof that Wit can never be / Defence enough against Mortality." There were nine cases of today's typo in OhioLINK this morning, and 433 in WorldCat.

(Aphra Behn, by Mary Beale, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Genuis* (for Genius*)

It doesn't take a genius to know that an 18' x 30' 19th-century mural should not be covered up for over a decade in the musty if rather magnificent auditorium known as Chancellors Hall, housed in the State Education Building in Albany, New York. It did, however, take a new commissioner (John King, Jr., the state's first black education commissioner) to finally raise the curtain on this politically incorrect sticky wicket. The painting, by Adolphe Yvon, hung in the hall for over half a century, but by the year 2000, some African-American employees had begun to complain about its portrayal of slaves and Native Americans, particularly the image of "a slave in a loincloth ... rising up with a two-handed assist from a bearded white figure." Commissioner King wrote the following apologia in defense of his decision to throw some light on this dark chapter in our country's history: "Because the interpretation of history changes over time, this 'lesson' in American virtues can be seen as outdated and offensive. Liberated slaves and Native Americans, for example, are depicted through the sensibilities of the time, and the romantic images conceived by the artist contrast sharply with reality. Indeed, late-nineteenth century America was not a land of opportunity for all. Learning stories of the past is necessary, however, in order for us to understand where we are in the present, and what may shape our future." Staff from the New York State Museum have created an informational website about the mural. We uncovered 32 cases of Genuis* (for genius*) in OhioLINK (about half of which were proper names or foreign words), and 442 in WorldCat. Untruncated, there were 16 and 210.

(The Genius of America by Adolphe Yvon, 1858, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 26, 2012

Expection* (for Expectation*)

Is "expection" the opposite of inspection? Short answer: No. But it is an example of today's typo, which was found, through close and careful inspection of OhioLINK and WorldCat, 24 times and 369 times respectively. The Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations has been given the movie treatment eight times so far, including a 1917 silent film. Now there's another version on the horizon, starring Jeremy Irvine as Pip, Holliday Grainger as Estella, and Helena Bonham Carter as the permanently jilted Miss Havisham, a sort of would-be Dorian Gray in wedding-dress white. Speaking of expecting, there's also a new book out called Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, about the rather disappointing offspring of the famous author. I happen to have a much older book at home called Dickens's Children, although in that case it refers to the fictional children in his books, not his actual ones. Published in 1912 by Charles Scribner, it tells of the half-real, half-mythical "London of Dickens," along with the young people who inhabit it, and contains ten beautiful color plates by Jessie Willcox Smith. As an aside, one of the OCLC records found for this title spelled the operative word Dicken's (as opposed to correctly as Dickens's), causing it to appear out of sequence in the catalog. Another surprise included the subject heading: Children with disabilities in literature, which at first seemed a bit too broad, or possibly too narrow, for the likes of Oliver, Pip, David Copperfield, Tiny Tim, Little Nell, and Dombey's son. But considering how many fiction records omit subject headings entirely, I can see where it might be a helpful pointer for a disabled young reader who might have lots of books to play with, but somewhat fewer friends, and hasn't yet been introduced to Mr. Dickens and his children. For another take on this writer you might not expect, check out editor Bernadette Rule's In the Wings: Stories of Forgotten Women, a newly minted anthology about various female figures in the lives of famous men. One of my favorites, "Maiden Aunt" by Richard Van Holst (a fascinating story about Charles Dickens's sister-in-law) is a true exercise in tact.

(Studio portrait of Martita Hunt in the 1946 version of Great Expectations, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 23, 2012

Loosing (for Losing)

Loosing for losing is a very common typo, it seems. Partly because of the seeming pronunciation and partly because loosing is a real word (meaning "releasing" or "loosening" and often showing up as an antiquated one rather than a contemporary English one). In any case, I got quite a few hits on it, a decent number of which were actual typos. There were 92 cases of Loosing in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. When I combined Loosing + Losing, I got four in OhioLINK and 38 in WorldCat. And when I truncated those terms to Los* + Loos*, I didn't get any in OhioLINK (I think this may be a glitch that occurs there at times when you try and truncate too much or something) and once again, "too many records found..." in WorldCat. I know this is all a little loosey-goosey, but you may want to check it out anyway. Just be careful to consult the original work before you make any corrections. I always thought the reason a woman who was promiscuous or had sex outside of marriage used to be called "loose" was that her morals were supposedly a little flexible. I say "used to be," but these things are horribly slow to change—in the words of Anita Loos, "Fate keeps on happening"—as witnessed by the current spate of "slut shaming." Women back in those days were generally required to be tightly corseted, buttoned, and covered up to a fare-thee-well, which probably is also why the word "loose" has come to refer to women who color outside the lines, as it were. But seeing this picture of a 19th-century model en déshabillé persuades me that "loose hair" was also a signifier of such fallen status. It's like the old stereotype of a (seemingly sexless, old-maid) librarian with her hair wrapped up in a tight bun. However, just like librarians can be sexy, a hair bun can come loose. And our budget-cutting losers in Washington had better watch out or a loose horde of librarians (otherwise known as a "shush") may be loosed on their sorry asses.

(Model with hair loose, between 1895 and 1910, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hellmann + Hellman (for Hellman or Hellmann)

Besides being a movie based on the 1931 play by Lillian Hellman, the phrase "The Children's Hour" can also refer to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a painting by Winslow Homer, or a variety of radio broadcasts on the BBC and elsewhere. But the most famous use of this title was probably William Wyler's The Children's Hour, starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn. Twenty-five years earlier, there had been another Hollywood adaptation called These Three with Merle Oberon and Joel McCrea. Both films are well worth seeing, but the later one hews more closely to the Hellman original, which clearly involves lesbianism and was inspired by the true story of two Scottish school teachers. In the earlier version, the issue was framed as infidelity, not homosexuality—which is to say that in 1936, Martha is jealous of her best friend Karen; in 1961, she's jealous of Karen's fiancé. I mentioned this bit of movie trivia to a young man whose own school had recently mounted a production of The Children's Hour, and whose own parents both happen to be women. He thought about it for a minute, then nodded sagely: "Makes sense." Hellman was apparently okay with the "adulterated" version, the screenplay for which she wrote herself. (The Hays Code prohibited references to homosexuality in film back then and it was illegal in New York State to mention it on stage as well, although this ban was apparently ignored with regard to the Broadway play itself.) To Hellman, at any rate, the play was more about spreading gossip than outing gays. Today's typo was found out 23 times in OhioLINK, and 244 times in WorldCat.

(Original poster for The Children's Hour, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mataph* (for Metaph*)

Once upon a time, Frank Sinatra met Dean Martin and decided to give him what for. "You sound like a ferry boat," Frank tells him. "Toot-toot," replies Dean. "I'm not a ferry boat. I'm a very manly sloop!" A very nice example too of simile, punning, and metaphor all wrapped up into one. Actually, this racy reference to male sexuality comes from a 2010 radio broadcast entitled "Frank Sinatra: The Man & the Myth." Much of the Rat Pack's quintessentially fifties humor was rooted in just this kind of campy masculinity. At its core, a sort of winking homophobic/homoerotic joke, it relies on a form of verbal sparring that borders on seduction. The original ensemble was assembled by Humphrey Bogart; after his death in 1957, Sinatra assumed the high-ranking position in what they then preferred to call the "The Summit" or "The Clan." Although this hip group of actor and musician friends seemed to define a certain brand of cool machismo, it had its occasional female members as well (Lauren Bacall, Bogie's girlfriend and the one who first dubbed them the "Rat Pack"; Judy Garland; and Katherine Hepburn) and did not at first include Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr., although it did have the urbane David Niven. By the 1960s, however, the leaders of the pack were considered to be Sinatra, Frank, and Davis, who appeared in the signature film Ocean's Eleven, along with Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. There were 23 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 347 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Frank Sinatra at Liederkrantz Hall, New York, circa 1947, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 16, 2012

Restuar* (for Restaur*)

I was enjoying a meal with some friends at a local Greek eatery called Ali Baba the other night and found myself charmed by the somewhat hyperbolic and H-happy slogan printed on its menu: "House of Healthy Fresh Homemade Deliciousness." I've been there a couple of times now and have so far eaten, sampled, or considered ordering the iskender, the durum, the guvech, the kabob, and a cold platter of assorted globs of mystery "deliciousness"—including, of course, the traditional stuffed grape leaves. (A buddy of mine used to date a Greek woman for whom he employed the pet name dolmadaki mon, meaning "my little stuffed grape leaf.") I also had the traditional yogurt drink known as ayran, which might be a good typo candidate for Aryan, so stay tuned. (A search just now on Aryan + Ayran returned a single hit in OhioLINK and 16 in WorldCat.) Our typo du jour was found ten times in the former database and 315 times in the latter one. Due to the way the word restaurant is often pronounced, I'm always a bit surprised not to find any cases of Restarau* in the smaller of the two catalogs, although it did come up 32 times in the larger one today. Another spelling-related note here: a person who owns or runs a restaurant is called a restaurateur. The variant "restauranteur" (with an n) is widely if arguably considered incorrect.

(Greek salad, horiatiki salata, at Psaropoulo restaurant in Hydra, Greece, September 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hydrolic* (for Hydraulic*)

According to the 2010 documentary Gasland by Josh Fox, and the upcoming (?) HBO sequel Gasland 2, if you've got "fracking" going on outside your house, you might want to avoid licking, drinking, or even turning on the water inside it. The film begins with one Colorado homeowner literally lighting fire to the water coming out of his kitchen tap in order to demonstrate the apparent dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Because this method of generating energy allegedly pollutes the water at the same time that it utilizes a great deal of it in the process, and because the ultimate goal here is the extraction of hydrocarbons, some people may think the word in question is "hydrolic." However, it's actually hydraulic, a reference to the forceful pressure needed to release the underground shale gas. It's not only the technique itself that's controversial—it's what to call it, and furthermore, how to spell it. The Wikipedia article reports that this is also known as "induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing" (which, along with another abbreviation, "hydro-fracking," would seem to go a long way toward explaining today's typo) and is "commonly known as fracing, fraccing, or fracking." There were 13 cases of Hydrolic* (for hydraulic*) in OhioLINK the last time I checked, and 204 in WorldCat.

(Ad on message board in coffee shop for rally against hydraulic fracturing, 17 July 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hadyn (for Haydn)

One of the comments following an online article about the front-page typo(s) "Let is snow, let is snow, let is snow" from the Brattleboro (Vermont) Reformer read as follows: "This isn't newspaper-related and it's kind of geeky, but my favorite typo came from a CD booklet. It was a classical CD so not in the widest circulation, but it was the Cleveland Orchestra, which is/was one of the giants, and it was a prominent release for them on some big label which presumably employed copy editors. Anyway it was a CD of symphonies by Haydn and they spelled Haydn wrong on the cover of the CD. And it was one of those designs that was just a field of color and then big text in bold contrasting colors: Cleveland Orchestra / Symphonies 102, 103, 104 / Hadyn..." Franz Joseph Haydn is considered the "father" of the symphony, or the string quartet, or even of classical music itself, and though he lived more than 200 years ago, he's certainly no has-been, or even had-byn. There were 58 cases of Hadyn in OhioLINK today, and 507 in WorldCat. If you combine both Hadyn and Haydn, you get 20 hits in the former and 149 in the lattter. So let's make Hay here while the sun shines and make sure we've all got the name of Mozart's close friend and Beethoven's music teacher properly spelled in our catalogs.

(Haydn portrait on German stamp, 1959, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oppresion (for Oppression)

"Born with a hatred of oppression," Matilda Joslyn Gage arrived on the scene in the early 1800s, a much more progressive and activist century than some of the present-day politically correct might realize. An "adopted" member of the Mohawk Indian tribe, Gage grew up in Cicero, New York (in a house on the Underground Railroad) and was a lifelong proponent of Native American rights, the abolition of slavery, and a woman's right to vote. Not an advocate merely of the ballot, she campaigned strenuously for women's suffrage, though she wouldn't live long enough to see it to fruition. Unlike some of her sister suffragettes, most notably those in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she did not believe in suffrage simply because it would likely bring a needed feminine "morality" to the legislature. Instead, she regarded it simply as a "natural right," regardless of how women might choose to use it. Gage first became involved in the women's movement when she gave a speech at the 1852 National Women's Rights Convention in Syracuse. She later managed to get New York women the right to vote in school board elections, and in 1871, along with nine others, she stormed the polls demanding that they be allowed to vote. She supported Victoria Woodhull at that time and served as an elector for Belva Lockwood in her own bid for the White House in 1884. Gage was a prolific and scathingly funny writer ("It is sometimes better to be a dead man than a live woman") and was also the mother-in-law of famed children's author L. Frank Baum. (Her son and his wife had a daughter whom they named Dorothy Gage, but sadly the little girl died at five months old. This upset Gage's daughter Maud, the child's aunt, so much that her husband named his Wizard of Oz protagonist "Dorothy Gale" in her honor.) The "Matilda Effect" (coined in 1993 and meaning that if a scientist is known to be female, her work will receive less credit than if that fact were not known) was named for Matilda Gage. There were seven cases of Oppresion in OhioLINK today, and 77 in WorldCat.

(Matilda Joslyn Gage, 19th century photograph in the public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pruple* (for Purple*, etc.)

It's sometimes said there's no rhyme for orange, but fellow "secondary color" purple seems to be lacking for one as well, at least according to the poet's little helper website RhymeZone. Older folks will likely remember the 1958 chart-topping novelty song "The Purple People Eater" while demonstrably less silly younger ones probably prefer the formerly known as Prince tune "Purple Rain." (Even more recently minted ones than that must recall, whether they like it or not, being mesmerized by Barney the Purple Dinosaur singing, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family!") Purple is an often lofty, even regal, sort of color, but it's also a funny-sounding word that seems to lend itself to nonsense. Gelett Burgess (author of the "Goops" series for children, along with the excellent maxim "Love is only chatter; friends are all that matter") wrote this famous little ditty, published in 1895:

I never saw a Purple Cow;
I never hope to See One;
But I can Tell you, Anyhow,
I'd rather See than Be One.

The poem became so popular that Burgess grew exasperated by it and two years later penned the following follow-up called "Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background That I Rue":

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I'll Kill you if you Quote it!

If pot (now legal in eighteen states plus the District of Columbia) were purple, it might look something like this, a flower actually known as "Buddleia." There were two cases of today's perp in OhioLINK (one for purple and one for the French word peuples), and 15 in WorldCat. Smoke 'em out if you got 'em. (But don't quote me.)

(Buddleia, 7 July 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 5, 2012

Elction* (for Election*)

You've come a long way, baby, but hey, have you seen that viral video of the little kid crying over how sick and tired she is of "Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney"? Sometimes it's hard to know just where to stand on Election Day and easier just to throw in the tear-soaked towel. Whether you miss the 1950s and still "like Ike" or have managed to keep hope alive and are backing Barack, or perhaps like a good German are going mit Mitt, or anything else in between, you're probably planning on casting your ballot tomorrow. Unless, that is, you tried to beat the crowds or any last-minute conflicts by voting early, something the First Lady was pushing on one of the late-night talk shows the other night. Still another option, however, though not one widely encouraged, is to skip the elections entirely, which the managing editor of Reason magazine, Katherine Mangu-Ward, makes a surprisingly good case for in the journal's November issue. It's simply not worth it, she argues. And this isn't only advice for those derided 'undecideds' who aren't quite sure who the vice president is; it's also meant for a wide range of thoughtful and informed voters and abstainers as well. It's all very interesting and debatable, I guess, but on Tuesday we're being asked to make a choice. So please do whatever it is you do on Election Day and may the best men and women win. We counted five cases of Elction* (for election*) in OhioLINK today, and 94 in WorldCat.

(Country Gentleman magazine cover, November 4, 1922. The 19th Amendment giving all women the right to vote wasn't ratified until August 1920. Note the obnoxious sign: "Women Must Give Their Ages." From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hundreth (for Hundredth)

Michel Eugène Chevreul was a famous French chemist who specialized in fatty acids (including margaric acid, the precursor to margarine), formulated an early type of soap, and was a pioneer in the field of gerontology. Chevreul himself was a centenarian (plus two), having been born in 1786 and died in 1889. He made it through the French Revolution and lived long enough to see his name engraved upon the Eiffel Tower. Since frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to stay healthy and live a long life (although most people, notoriously including obtetricians and surgeons, of whom there were several in Chevreul's family, apparently didn't realize it back then), it seems he may have been on to something with all that soap. His own longevity, however, allowed him to pursue a multitude of other interests as well. He did research into various color phenonmena, including what's known as "simultaneous contrast" as well as something called Chevreul's illusion,"the bright edges that seem to exist between adjacent strips of identical colors having different intensities." He was also a professional skeptic and tireless debunker of all manner of 19th-century charlatans. There were 196 cases of Hundreth in OhioLINK today, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. I suspect a number of these may reflect early/variant spellings or cases where it's spelled that way on the piece itself, so be careful when making any corrections here.

(Chevreul in his hundredth year, 1886-1887, Popular Science Monthly, vol. 30, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid