Friday, October 31, 2014

Pscy* (for Psychic, Psychological, etc.)

What could be better on Halloween than a story about the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe?  While trolling for lesser-known facts about the author, I came across something appropriately eerie that might even be new to many of you.  In 1862, psychic medium Lizzie Doten published her book Poems from the Inner Life.  In it, she claimed some of the works originated from “conscious communion with disembodied spirits” of famous writers who had shuffled off this mortal coil.  (Indeed, Shakespeare was one of them.) Six of the poems are purported to come from Poe himself. About her experience with the spirit of Poe, Doten had this to say:

The influence of Poe was neither pleasant nor easy. I can only describe it as a species of mental intoxication. I was tortured with a feeling of great restlessness and irritability, and strange, incongruous images crowded my brain. Some were as bewildering and dazzling as the sun, others dark and repulsive.  Under his influence, particularly, I suffered the greatest exhaustion of vital energy, so much so, that after giving one of his poems, I was usually quite ill for several days.

But from his first poem to the last … was a marked, and rapid change. It would seem as though, in that higher life, where the opportunities for spiritual development far transcend those of earth, that by his quick and active perceptions he had seized upon the Divine Idea which was endeavoring to find expression through his life, both in Time and Eternity; and that from the moment this became apparent, with a volcanic energy, with the battle-strokes of a true hero, he had over-thrown every obstacle, and hewn a way through every barrier that impeded the free out-growth and manifestation of his diviner self…. As he last appeared to me, he was full of majesty and strength, self-poised and calm, and it would seem by the expression of his countenance, radiant with victory, that the reward promised to ‘him that over-cometh,' had been made his sure possession…. Upon earth he was a meteor light, flashing with a startling brilliancy across the intellectual firmament; but now he is a star of ever increasing magnitude, which has at length gravitated to its own place among the celestial spheres.

As Ripley’s would have it, “Believe It or Not!”  But there’s no doubt that Pscy* is a typo of high probability.  There are 61 English-language instances of it in OhioLINK and 502 in WorldCat.

(Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, 1849, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Postii* (for Positive, Position)

I will confess to being something of a cynic.  But do even those of you with the most positive outlooks on life find that motivational posters make you want to vomit? You know the ones--beautiful or (dare I say it?) inspiring pictures that are ruined with saccharine captions like “Teamwork: When all work together, we all win together” and “Goals: The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

Enough people do find them laughable that there whole lines of spin-off posters devoted to lampooning them. Heck, I can get behind that same artwork if it’s accompanied by “Attitudes are contagious. Mine might kill you” or “Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.”

So have I disillusioned you too much, or might I yet motivate you to stamp out the typo Postii* in your library catalog? There are 10 such English-language errors in the OhioLINK database and 70 in WorldCat.

(Model of a saccharin molecule, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cocao (for Cocoa, Cacao, etc.)

“Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a 'typical 30 or 40-year-old'.” So reads the latest headline (this one from The Independent) about the benefits of chocolate, or more specifically, of the antioxidant flavanols found in cocoa beans.

Next come the usual disclaimers about the small size of the study being described and how more research needs to be done before scientists can truly interpret the results. But the most disappointing is the sort of statement that inevitably follows: “However, experts said the study did not mean people should eat more chocolate”. I’m so waiting for someone, somewhere, to finally say, yes, eat all the chocolate you want! Never mind all those calories and fat, the benefits far outweigh them!

And now we’ve wandered into fantasy land. Perhaps it would be best if we just stuck with cleaning up the error Cocao in our catalogs. There are 77 instances in WorldCat and 1 in OhioLINK. Hint: it’s a typo in several languages other than English, although you’ll have to evaluate each one carefully. And then, by all means, reward yourself with (a sensible amount of) chocolate.

Deb Kulczak

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eveden* (for Eviden*)

On another crime show the other night (I seem to watch a lot of these), the original suspect told a 911 operator that she had observed blood on her murdered friend's "headboard." This word somehow got transcribed as "forehead," however, and became a major part of the state's case against her. The investigator argued that the witness couldn't possibly have seen the victim's forehead since the body had been completely wrapped in trash bags and blankets. It's hard to know whether he made that error by mistake or on purpose, but if the latter, it was evidently an ingenious, if thoroughly corrupt, move, allowing for a certain plausible deniability. (Oops, typo!) In any case, it underscores the often critical importance of proofreading one's records; it can actually be a matter of life and death. We uncovered evidence of Eveden* twice in OhioLINK, and 57 times in WorldCat.

(Antique oak sleigh bed with high headboard, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oinion* (for Opinion* or Onion*)

With regard to some murder mystery or other recently, a commentator commented: "This is an onion that continues to unpeel." Which sounds laughably wrong at first, until you consider the alternative: "This is an onion that continues to be peeled" is arguably even worse. And not to make you hypercorrect grammar nazis cry, but it appears in fact that unpeel may actually be acceptable. (The adjective unpeeled is not in dispute.) It's sort of like ravel/unravel, flammable/inflammable, thaw/unthawwords that look like total opposites, but in fact mean pretty much the same thing. There was another mystery of sorts in my garden this past summer, in which some plants that looked a little like forgotten garlic, unharvested from the year before, started to turn up as I turned over the soil. I thought perhaps they were stunted garlics with tiny bulbs (which I now know as "field garlic"), though a fellow grower was of the opinion that they were probably wild onions. They're very tasty, but rather hard to peel. I only wish they could "unpeel" themselves! We uncovered just one Oinion* in OhioLINK today, along with 14 in WorldCat.

(Mixed onions, 15 June 2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 20, 2014

Haitain* (for Haitian*)

The other night on a TV crime show, the victim was said to have "baby doe eyes." This struck me as another one of those conflated idioms I've written about here before: doe-eyed, baby doll, baby blues, etc. The usage was a bit disconcerting at first, but you got the general idea and in a small way it actually made the sad story just that much more poignant. Speaking of murderers, Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier, the longtime Haitian dictator, passed away earlier this month as well. He succeeded his father, François ("Papa Doc") Duvalier, at age 19, making him the youngest president in the world. He ruled Haiti from 1971 till 1986 when his reign was finally overthrown. After creating a vicious state militia, trafficking in illegal drugs, and selling the body parts of his countrymen in order to support his lavish lifestyle, Baby Doc was accused of the "zombification" of Haiti. Duvalier returned from France in 2011, after a nearly 20-year self-imposed time-out for bad behavior, whereupon he was promptly spanked with charges of embezzlement, abuse of power, and corruption. (The statute of limitations had run out on his most horrific crimes against humanity.) There were a lot of people still hatin' on this Haitian in 2014, though there were only two cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 21 in WorldCat.

(Photograph showing the now-deceased Jean-Claude Duvalier and his then wife, Michele, fleeing Haiti, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thansk* (for Thanks*)

I’m late on my blogging this week due to having stuffed myself into a sleepy haze on Monday – Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.

This got me wondering about the history of Thanksgiving in Canada, and I stumbled across a little document on the Canadian Heritage website.

It turns out, Thanksgiving first occurred here in 1799—before we were even officially a country. There was no set date until 1957, when a proclamation determined it would be the second Monday in October.

What really tickled me, however, was seeing the reasons proclaimed for holding Thanksgiving, which were often thanks for an abundant harvest, but sometimes differed from year to year. On Wednesday, 6 Feb. 1833, it was held for “Cessation of cholera,” and on Monday, 15 April 1872, “For restoration to health of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.”

And then there’s Thursday, 21 Apr. 1814, when Thanksgiving was held “For glorious victories over our enemies.” Looks like we didn’t always live up to the stereotype of friendly, polite, meek Canadians.

Leanne Olson

(Wild turkey photo by Gary M. Stoltz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bibliogrp* (for Bibliograp*)

While trying to stay awake during a BIBFRAME webinar recently, my flagging attention was caught by a typo that appeared a couple of times on the monitor: Bibliogrpahic. Some typos are rather fun to sound out, and as I silently rolled this one around on my tongue, I was unaccountably put in mind of the state of New Jersey. It took a few moments, but I soon figured out why: the last part of it sounds a bit like Passaic. And just south of Passaic is Newark, the largest city in the Garden State. (Which demographical distinction further calls to mind the wonderful sister act known as The Roches, who would often trill, "We come from deepest New Jersey..." and who once recorded a song that began: "Didn't you ever feel like the largest Elizabeth in the world?") Wilberforce Eames, a truly formidable force of nature, was born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 12, 1855, and later moved to Brooklyn with his family. Former New York Public Library director Harry Miller Lydenberg, as part of a memorial tribute delivered at the 1956 meeting of the American Antiquarian Society, tells the amazing story of this life-long book collector, bookseller, librarian, and bibliographer, one that I can merely hint at here with the following quote: "Books, books, books, there was no end, bought from auction catalogues, from dealers' lists, wherever they were seen, from home and from the ends of the earth. Fred Morris, that faithful agent and loyal soul, came to me more than once, genuinely distressed because he felt that Eames was buying beyond his means and he felt that 'something must be done.' Equally sympathetic, equally fond of our friend, we could but say finally that the man was prudent enough in other ways, and with such matters we could feel that as he had proven able to meet his other responsibilities with credit, here we could do nothing more than wish him well..." Let us all wish Wilberforce well this weekend, with gratitude for his contributions to all things bibliographic. (Note: I've truncated the original typo for better access; there were 47 in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.)

(Wilberforce Eames, painted for the Society by Mr. DeWitt M. Lockman, 1931, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

French + Franch (for French, etc.)

Shhhh. Librarians are famous for saying it. Along with its onomatopoetic cousins Hush and Shush, as well as the similarly sibilant Shut up (or Shutty, Shut your mouth, Shut your face, etc.), it means "Be quiet" or "Keep still." (Generally, those variants that include the word shut are not always considered the nicest ones, but they certainly have their place. I even thought of a new one: Shutten your lip. Feel free to use it!) Every language has its ways of conveying this command and an understanding of those ways could prove useful while traveling abroad. Romance languages employ a sound that's rather akin to Shh: in Spanish it's chis or chito; in French it's chut; in Italian it's sst or zitto. German and Dutch librarians hiss Pst! or Sch! at unruly patrons who fail to observe the peace and quiet. I seem to recall hearing Ferme la bouche used in French class, but have since learned that that's incorrect and is rarely said by the natives. The polite form, it appears, is Tais-toi, whereas Ferme ta gueule is downright gauche. A commenter on Wordreference writes: "It's a kid's way of telling someone to shut up." Another one says: "Sometimes you will hear Ferme la bouche! for Ferme ta gueule! from people who try not to use rude words." Often (and perhaps it's to obscure le différence?) the phrase gets shortened to Ferme-la. So when visiting France, before you open your mouth to ask where the library is ("Où est la bibliothèque?" being one of the few other phrases en français I can remember from school), make sure you know the proper way to request that your fellow bibliophiles please keep it down. Given that we have already blogged here about silence, our typo for the day is French + Franch (for, in most cases, French). We found 21 of these in OhioLINK, and 392 in WorldCat.

(An Asian woman wearing headphones and putting a finger over her lips, 19 January 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 6, 2014

Amercan* (for American*)

Librarianship is often remarked upon, or even flat-out ribbed, over its vast array of acronyms, one of the first and foremost, of course, being "ALA." The American Library Association was founded in Philadelphia 138 years ago today by an impressive group of men, including Justin Winsor, Charles Ammi Cutter, Samuel S. Green, James L. Whitney, Fred B. Perkins, Charles Evans, Thomas W. Bicknell, and Melvil Dewey. Its first female president was Theresa West Elmendorf, who served in that role from 1911 to 1912 (she had also presided over NYLA in 1903 and 1904). ALA's second female president, Mary Wright Plummer, quickly followed in her footsteps and the position has been trending toward the distaff side ever since. Plummer was a young Indiana Quaker when she moved with her family to Chicago in 1873. She studied at Wellesley College and took the first library class taught by Mr. Dewey at Columbia University. In 1890, she began training new librarians at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and created a library school there in 1895. She published Hints to Small Libraries and Training for Librarianship, along with a work of poetry called Verses; she also wrote several books for children, such as Stories from the Chronicle of the Cid. In addition to heading ALA in 1915–16, Plummer had also been the president of the New York Library Association, the New York Library Club, and the Long Island Library Club. She invented the idea of "library ethics," which she outlined in a speech to the Illinois Library Association called "The Pros and Cons of Librarianship." I was so curious what these might have been, and to compare them to our current gripes and glory, that I went and fetched a copy from my own library's basement stacks. She didn't use bullet points, but her point was eloquently made in twelve pages of single-spaced text. I was particularly struck by this relevant passage: "Let us take the case of a catalog card. It may be beautifully and legibly written or printed; it may have its words and sentences separated by the proper number of millimeters; its construction may be according to the A.L.A. rules or the Cutter rules or the Library school rules, and it may yet contain some blunder of ignorance that would make a librarian blush to find it in his catalog. And that kind of cataloging is what is going to tell against librarianship as a profession..." Upon her untimely death from cancer in 1916 (three years, I might note, before American women got the right to vote), in a memorial at the New York Public Library, Caroline Weeks Barrett recalled the time that Plummer had asked her, "Do you really believe in personal immortality?" When Barrett replied in the affirmative, Plummer continued, "What to you is the 'unanswerable argument' for such a belief?" And Barrett, who had just before that "been thinking of her tremendous vitality," told her simply: "You are." It was a touching tribute to a remarkable woman who would clearly live on in the hearts and minds of her grieving colleagues, and whose influence is still felt in the library profession today, especially the American Library Association. There were 22 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 496 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Mary Wright Plummer, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 3, 2014

Executu* (for Executive)

The clever advertising executive who came up with the campaign “Behold, the power of cheese” (later “Ahh, the power of cheese”) didn’t know how right s/he was.  According to the June, 2014 issue of National Geographic (“Cheese Fix,” page 22):

There's a reason we love cheese. It contains tiny amounts of potentially addictive substances. Some of the feel-good chemicals come from casein, a milk protein that's concentrated during cheesemaking. Our digestion breaks down casein, creating morphine-like chemicals called casomorphins. But that's not all. Milk may also include traces of morphine itself, produced in the cow's liver.

Bring it on!  Cheddar, Emmentaler, Gouda, Red Leicester, Monterey Jack, Gruyère, Manchego, Feta, Butterkäse, Mozzarella, Havarti, Dubliner, Edam, Brie, you name it.  (Did I mention I adore cheese?) 

Executu* is another low-probability typo.  There are 6 entries for it in the OhioLINK catalog, and WorldCat advertises 76 English-language results. 

(Swiss cheese cubes, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak