Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Propet* (for Prospect*, Property, etc.)

Folks of all types keep pets of all stripes, and dogs are arguably the most popular of these in the good old U.S. of A. There once was a time when gay Americans were not legally allowed to adopt, but fortunately those days are (partially now, at least) behind us. Unwanted children, as well as abandoned animals, may now be adopted (in many states) by any prospective parent, if otherwise qualified, regardless of sexual orientation. And when it comes to canines, some would even say that gay people make the best dog owners of all. Though we often speak of "owning" pets, many would regard that as a meaningless misnomer and often feel closer to their pets than they do to their own family or friends. Animals—these animals, anyway—are not property. As Groucho Marx once put it: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." If you are pro-pet (or even if you're not) and it's not too dark to read right now, please sniff around a bit for our typo of the day, which was dug up 42 times in OhioLINK, and 782 times in WorldCat.

(At the Capital Pride parade near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2012, Washington Animal Rescue League brings along some of their most ardent supporters. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 28, 2013

Luxenbourg* (for Luxembourg*)

While studying up on RDA and FRBR, I noticed a language note for Luxembourgish. Along with French and German, Luxembourgish is one of three official languages spoken in Luxembourg. It's a sort of High German dialect employed by approximately 400,000 people worldwide, and the one native speakers refer to as the "language of the heart." I really don't know very much about the place, but it sounds rather nice, if this shining beacon of a war memorial is any indication. It was created by the artist Claus Citro, a leader in the avant-garde Luxembourg Secession movement of artists in the early twentieth century. My new favorite word in Luxembourgish is "Firwat," which is translated as "Why?" To an Anglo-American ear and eye, it looks like it might be pronounced "For what?" (it's actually more like "feer vat"), which is what I suspect many catalogers are secretly asking themselves about FRBR/RDA. LOL. (For a crew that eschews abbreviations, this one has certainly contributed its own memorable ingredients to the alphabet soup which are library acronyms. Although I kinda like WEMI. Firwat it's worth.) In any event, we found four cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 281 in WorldCat. And since there were no names in the OCLC authority file (personal, corporate, or geographic) starting with Luxenbourg*, it's a pretty good bet that virtually all of them are typos for Luxembourg*, and not merely Luxembourg-ish.

(Gëlle Fra, the Golden Lady, World War I Memorial in Luxembourg City, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 25, 2013

Preceed* (for Preced* or Proceed*)

Sometimes I feel big, see,
And sometimes I feel small,
Sometimes I feel adamant,
And sometimes not at all.

Seeds come with the seasons,
Though cede they not an inch,
A plante is often preferable,
But sedes do in a pinch.

C's also short for century,
A neat one hundred years,
While not a grade to celebrate,
It hardly leads to tears.

The C is round and curvy, but
Musicians like them sharp,
Just like the giant instrument
We all know as the harp....

Hey, I could go on all day here, probably, so let me just add that C is the third letter of the English alphabet, and the first letter of my own first name. Although my parents-to-be played around a bit with other possibilities (Alice? Rebecca?), I was actually sort of pre-C'd by default. Each of us being the eldest in our families, my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and I all carry some form of Carol in our names. Let's proceed now to precede (don't even get me started on supersede) and point out that there were an amazing 233 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. Please intercede on its behalf and see that it's spelled as it should be.

(Latin letter C, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walter* + Watler* (for Walter*)

Walter the Farting Dog is one beleaguered pooch who has had his ups and downs. William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray's book rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, at the same time that tight-assed critics were refusing to carry it in bookstores and libraries, or dismissing it as worthless "poop fiction." Based on a true story, it took the authors eleven years to find a "willing publisher." Walter was once (in one of several sequels) banned from the beach, but I bet he never thought he'd be banned from the library as well. Or even worse be held responsible for getting a fledgling teacher and aspiring librarian fired from her job. Which is exactly what happened in 2004 in Broome County, after this teacher had the temerity to present the popular title for "reluctant readers" as part of a book talk to her fellow educators. Such a reckless act sparked outrage from a coworker in the kindergarten, who along with the other local church ladies proceeded to raise a big stink. Amid some loose talk about the so-called "F word," librarian and book were soon out on the street. (Something smelled in upstate New York that day, and it wasn't just Walter. A friend says you could write a children's book about the entire incident: Farting in Such Sweet Sorrow, or, The Great Whitney Point Gas Crisis.) If you have passed so far on this olfactory ode to "everyone who's ever felt misjudged or misunderstood," it's may be time to rectify that. In a piquant comparison to the 1956 children's classic Harry the Dirty Dog, John Sutherland writes in the New Statesman that Walter "is to Harry as Portnoy was to sexually uptight Holden Caulfield—dirtier." Clean up the dogs in your own catalogs by rounding up all the slightly flawed Walters you can find and giving them good, well-spelled homes. There were six in OhioLINK, and 91 in WorldCat. (Watler* alone gets a dozen hits in the former and 168 in the latter, some of which could be correct, of course, so please check.) And let's all support intellectual freedom in any way we can. (Whew, that feels better!)

P.S. Don't forget: "He who farts in church sits in his own pew." (A couple cases of windy wordplay here come courtesy of our censored librarian.)

(Cover of Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, charmingly illustrated by Audrey Colman.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inflaton* (for Inflation*, etc.)

On my way to work the other day, I noticed an old diner with a new sign. Johnny's Hot Dogs is now the Joe N' Dough Café. The "Joe" refers to coffee, of course, and the "dough" is obviously its classic companion, the doughnut. (One rather inspired menu selection in that regard is the Stiglemonkey, which is a "store-made glazed cake donut with Nutella frosting and topped with a banana.") Recently a friend sent me a link to the photograph pictured at left, asking: "When did we start spelling Donuts without a space?" Another recipient added, "When did we start selling brains for only 25¢?" Upon closer inspection, the more appetizing of the two offerings appears to be faintly hyphenated, using a small dot instead of a line. Compounds often start out as separate words, gradually growing closer through hyphenation, and finally merging into a single unit. (Although there is no evidence that doughnut was ever actually two discrete words.) The shortening (no pun intended) of doughnut to donut occurred at some point as well, at least in American English (the Brits still prefer to make the "dough" plain). A related example of how words and their meanings can change over time is the saying "I'll bet [or give] you dollars to doughnuts..." The idea was that dollars were worth so much more than doughnuts back then that this would perforce be a very good wager. Of course, given the rate of inflation, a doughnut (or donut) now often costs more than a dollar, making the expression nonsensical, or in any case, backwards. The phrase first arose around 1870, but was originally given as "dollars to buttons" or "dollars to cobwebs." It wasn't until the turn of the century that the alliterative appeal of "dollars to doughnuts" proved stronger. We found two cases of Inflaton* (for inflation*, etc.) in OhioLINK today, and 370 in WorldCat.

(Photo of store advertising donuts and brains, found on the Web.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gardner* + Gardener* (for Gardener* or Gardner*)

Today's combination typo is one of "high probability" on the Ballard list, garnering 76 hits in OhioLINK and 623 in WorldCat. These include a number of false positives (e.g., The terrace gardener's handbook: raising plants on a balcony, terrace, rooftop, penthouse, or patio; drawings by Sue Gardner), but the majority are surely typos for either Gardener or Gardner (surnames) or gardener (the common noun). When I was a kid growing up in the country and surrounded by lots of informal gardens (the most nearly Edenic of which had long been dubbed "The Love Garden"), the bus driver who ferried us budding young flowers to and from our grade school was called "Gardner" (or possibly "Gardener" or "Gardiner"). I'm actually not quite sure how he spelled it, or even whether it was his first name or his last name—it was simply the way we all greeted him, carefully climbing onto the bus each morning and carelessly jumping off again in the late afternoon. It was a long ride, and I recall often cramming for my spelling test (the list had been handed out to us the previous week) on my Monday morning commute. In any case, it was always nice to see Gardner. He was handsome and kind and looked sort of like a cowboy to me. (He actually took my side one time when I cracked a classmate over the head with my plaid metal lunchbox, after he had gratuitously punched me in the nose.) That was really all I ever knew about the man, but he's remained in my memory ever since. Remember to take a look back at the Gard[e]ners in your own catalogs and see to it that they're all spelled the way they should be.

(Gardeners, lithograph by József Rippl-Rónai, 1896, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fom (for From, etc.)

The idea for today's typo blog entry comes straight from FOM, otherwise known as the Fraternal Order of Maoi. This organization is a tiki-happy, slightly tongue-in-cheek social club and fraternal order, founded in 2005. Its original goal was to preserve the local history and artifacts of the erstwhile Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio. If you too like tiki tchotchkes, check out the Archie McPhee store, which has been known to carry such products for all your Polynesian party needs. Fom (which is usually a typo for from, but could also be for for or even form) turned up 140 times in OhioLINK, with "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. A good percentage of these were false positives (acronyms and foreign words), but in any event, this is not a typo to back away from.

(Poster for the Chicago Area Tiki Tour event poster, 2011, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 14, 2013

Psychad* (for Psyched*)

Baby, it's cold outside. But then all you needed was love on January 14, 1967, the day the "Human Be-In" was born in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The Be-In (a response to a recent California law banning LSD) sparked the so-called Summer of Love, a sort of "Occupy" for the 1960s, consisting mostly of draft resisters and assorted peaceniks, experimental drug users (Wikipedia says this cultural moment "introduced the word psychedelic to suburbia"), and various inchoate sexual liberationists, spiritual seekers, and other types of campus and off-campus "radicals." Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Turn on, tune in, drop out. You know, hippies. Truthfully, and wonderfully enough, it wasn't so much about politics per se, though anti-war fever raged. It was more along the lines of: "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair..." (Speaking of Hair, the now-hoary musical canonizing this anatomical symbol of hippiedom debuted off Broadway the following October.) I'm psyched to report that there were only eleven cases of Psychad*(for psychedelic, etc.) in OhioLINK this morning, and 127 in WorldCat.

(Poster advertising the Human Be-In, designed by organizer Michael Bowen using the photograph of artist Casey Sonnabend, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 11, 2013

Computio* (for Computatio*)

Do you ever find yourself scratching your head or twitching your nose or popping out of a bottle (or whatever it is you do when you're feeling perplexed, confounded, bemused, or nonplussed) and thinking: This does not compute? You might assume the expression comes from Star Trek or Star Wars ("There's absolutely no difference," asserts Penny on a 2012 episode of The Big Bang Theory) or possibly Lost in Space or Doctor Who. Or from the mouth, in any event, of some other boyish robot/alien/android. But surprisingly enough, the phrase was first uttered by the utterly feminine Julie Newmar (in the role of Rhoda Miller, aka AF709) on the short-lived sixties sitcom My Living Doll. At least according to Jesse Sheidlower, editor at the Oxford English Dictionary and author of the eye-catching 1995 lexicon The F-Word, citing the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Which is good enough for me. There were 23 examples of today's typo found in OhioLINK, and 397 in WorldCat. This one actually does compute (it's common to drop the "ta" in words like computational) and adds up to being a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list.

(Photo of Bob Cummings and Julie Newmar from the TV show My Living Doll, September 4, 1964, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Homles* (for Homeles* or Holmes)

I just finished a great book entitled Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. While doing a bit of sleuthing about the author, Ransom Riggs, I found he had written something called The Sherlock Holmes Handbook, released in 2009 as a tie-in to the Guy Ritchie film starring Robert Downey, Jr. In Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Jacob Portman, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, loses his beloved and eccentric grandfather to a mysterious and grisly demise and is consequently launched on a fact-finding mission to rival any embarked on by Sherlock Holmes himself. Furthermore, it's a trip from which Jacob might never come home. This captivating young adult novel is based upon a series of odd Victorian photographs, and has a sort of Holocaust subtext. I shan't spoil it for you except to say that the eponymous dwelling at the center of the story is both utterly perfect in every way and literally unlivable for one more day. With six cases of Homles* in OhioLINK (five for homeles* and one for Holmes) and 95 in WorldCat, it's a typo of "low probability." Would we could say the same about the actual homeless, at home and abroad, in this world and the next.

(Statue of Sherlock Holmes at Meiringen, Switzerland, by British sculptor John Doubleday, unveiled on September 10, 1988. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 7, 2013

Preperat* (for Preparat*)

In the first Simpsons episode of 2013, called "Homer Goes to Prep School," our panicky protagonist pontificates: "Marge, the Apocalypse is coming... Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe never. But it's coming. And soon." After joining a local survivalist group, Homer starts moving provisions from the kitchen to the basement. Predictably, he leaves the rice cakes sitting forlornly in the cupboard, while making sure to move the "butter brush" down to the bunker. I don't know how prepared you are for Doomsday, but if you're anything like a lot of us, you're probably not even caught up with your nudiustertian—"of or relating to the day before yesterday"—to do list yet. (How's that for wedging in a weird Anu Garg word of the day there?) Happily, numerous past predictions of humanity's demise (including the Mayan downer from a couple of weeks ago) have failed to hit their mark. As Mark Twain might have said, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. Twain further advises: "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." Prepare yourself to (eventually) correct our typo for the day, which was found 27 times in OhioLINK, and 391 times in WorldCat.

(Frame for the 1951 educational short film warning children of the dangers of nuclear war and demonstrating how to "duck and cover" in the event of an emergency, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 4, 2013

Aknowl* (for Acknowl*)

Ack! Ack! We found about a dozen examples of Aknowl* (for acknowl*) in OhioLINK today, and slightly over 400 in WorldCat. While there may be a lot of words in English that end in a-c-k (back, black, clack, crack, frack, and hack are just a few of the single-syllable ones), ack itself isn't exactly a word. Although if you double it up (ack-ack), it's defined in the dictionary as "anti-aircraft fire." (It's a case of onomatopoeia.) Today's picture shows a much better way to get bombed, however, and highlights the difference one little letter can make sometimes, along with the importance of periodically shining a light on such things. You can simply trust your luck on this, or better yet, check your own catalogs in order to acknowledge the presence or absence of today's typo there. And, speaking of acknowledgments, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has helped to keep our little blog up and running for the past five years. We have recently switched to a somewhat less frequent publishing schedule (three times a week or so) and will be welcoming a couple of newish volunteers on board as well. So look out for these changes in 2013, and if anyone else out there would like to try their hand at "typo blogging" too, please drop us a line. (You might think you lack the knack, but hold on, Mack, we've got a FAQ!)

(Casino at Interstate 10 gas station, west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 10, 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wiscosin (for Wisconsin)

Cartoonist Lynda Barry was born on January 2, 1956, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and later moved to the state of Washington. I first discovered her in the syndicated cartoon "Ernie Pook's Comeek" back in the 1980s. It appeared in my local alternative newsweekly, right above Matt Groening's "Life in Hell." (Barry met Groening at Evergreen State College in Olympia, where he filched a fledgling "Ernie Pook" and published it in the school newspaper.) I read Barry's comic strip religiously for years, but I don't think I ever realized (or at any rate had forgotten) that that was what it was actually called. I just called it "Lynda Barry" as in: "Did you read Lynda Barry today?" Some of my coworkers would tell me they couldn't be bothered because it had "too many words" or "too much writing" in it. Which I always found sort of odd coming from those who prided themselves on preferring reading to watching TV. However, I think it was more a matter of expectation than erudition. "Ernie Pook" was simply unlike any other cartoon there was, and if you couldn't think (like Barry often wrote) outside the box, well, there you were. Neverthless, Barry had garnered a lot of attention by that time and was quickly becoming famous. She disliked the limelight, though, and has been quietly working behind the scenes, writing books and teaching writing, for the past couple of decades. The New York Times praised her 2000 book Cruddy as "a work of terrible beauty"; her other graphic novels and collected works have also gotten good reviews. Today's typo was found four times in OhioLINK, and 98 times in WorldCat. My original intention was to blog on Linda + Lynda for misspelled version of those two names. (Barry herself had changed the spelling of her own name from "Linda" to "Lynda" when she was twelve years old, the same year her parents got divorced.) This combo brought up too many false positives to really be useful in such a wide search, but you might want to try it in your own library catalogs.

(Lynda Barry at the Alternative Press Expo 2010, organized at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, California, by Comic-Con International, Oct. 16-17, 2010, signing a copy of her latest book, Picture This. Photo by Guillaume Paumier, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid