Friday, November 28, 2014

Gazetter* (for Gazetteer*)

Gazetter? I hardly know 'er! The woodcut shown to the left was created by Robert Lewis Stevenson for the 1921 edition of his book Moral Emblems and Other Poems. It's titled "Broad-Gazing on Untrodden Lands." While that gerund is not really one you hear too much anymore, the hyphen it provides was perhaps as helpful to the reader then as it would be today. I can't find a dictionary entry for it, but I would assume it's akin to broadcasting or broadsiding. When it comes to broad being another word for woman, it apparently comes from the queen in a deck of cards (which were also known as a "broad") or the idea of a prostitute as her pimp's "meal ticket" (that being an allusion to other types of tickets, which were also compared to playing cards). We're told that "the general sense of broad meaning a woman" was first seen in the September 1911 issue of Hampton’s Magazine: "Pretty soon what is technically known as a 'broad'—'broad' being the latest New Yorkese—hove into sight." While gazing broadly at a document waiting to be cataloged recently, I noticed that the word gazetteer in the title had been misspelled "gazetter." I thought we had covered all the likely typos for this word already, but it turns out we hadn't included this one. So it's high time we get all of our E's and T's in place here, and in just the right order, like any good gazetteer would. It may help you to remember this spelling by thinking first of the word Gazette, one you often see in newspaper names. Add "er." Sound it out. And then just get zen and realize it's only got one Z. This one occurs 54 times in OhioLINK, and 1157 times in WorldCat. Some of these might appear on the work itself, so be sure to check there if the typo is in a transcribed field.

(This woodcut was made by Robert Lewis Stevenson in 1881 during his stay in Davos, Switzerland, with his wife Fanny and her twelve year-old son, Lloyd Osbourne, to illustrate Moral Emblems. Ninety copies were printed by Lloyd Osbourne on a toy printing press and sold at six pence each. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Afrcia* (for Africa, African, etc.)

Perhaps you were expecting something nice about turkeys, or the pleasant holiday that those of us in the United States will celebrate tomorrow?  Well, today’s critter is frankly just a whole lot more fun to contemplate.  Several years ago, there was that viral video.  You know the one.  "Honey badger don’t care, honey badger don’t give a s_ _ _!”  Please don’t watch if bad language isn’t your thing, and even if you liked it, also check out this fascinating and entertaining segment of Nature entitled “Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem.”  In it you will discover that “honey badger” is synonymous with “tenacity.”  So much so that in South Africa, the Afrikaans name for this tough guy—Ratel—has also been used for one of that country’s armored military vehicles.  Fortunately, today’s typo isn’t nearly as persistent.  There are only 4 instances of Afrcia* in the OhioLINK catalog and 122 in WorldCat.

(Honey Badger (perhaps enjoying Thanksgiving dinner?) from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sentor, Sentors (for Senator, Senators)

Quick, what first comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Phidippus Audax”?  For me, it’s evocative of a Roman senator or centurion.  And even if reality is not as noble as the first, it’s certainly as brave as the latter, for Phidippus audax is the Latin name for the Bold (or Daring) Jumping Spider.

Jumping spiders are fierce hunters that can be easily identified by their fuzzy appearance, eight eyes, and green or blue fangs.  They don’t spin webs, but they do use a filament as a safety line when launching themselves into a jump. In our house we often find they’ve staked their territory in a windowsill or flowerpot, where we will see them for several days at a time before they move on.  These little guys are intensely curious about humans, and not at all afraid.  Not surprisingly, they have very good eyesight.

If you hate spiders, sorry to make you shudder.  But we’re quite fond of this variety and have even composed a little song in their honor (sung to the tune of “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”):

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,
The Daring Jumping Spider needs no trapeze;
His movements are graceful, all prey he does seize,
The Daring Jumping Spider needs no trapeze.

A search for Sentor pulls up 8 entries in the OhioLINK database, and Sentors finds 2 results.  In WorldCat, the numbers are 155 and 9, respectively.  Be careful, though, because many are actually instances of the proper name Sentor.  While one should surely eradicate these pesky typos, the next time you encounter Phidippus audax, please consider giving him or her a break!

(Adult female Phidippus audax, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sinclair + Babbit (for Sinclair + Babbitt)

On Leave It to Beaver the other night (which is also to say, 54 years ago), Wally gets offered a summer job as a lifeguard (though it later turns out he's too young to take it). Beaver is beside himself with reflected glory. Ward seems a bit wary at first, but is equally impressed. June teases him about it, but her husband denies any undue parental pride. When Eddie Haskell drops by and affects surprise at the news, Ward says: "Coach Driscoll recommended him for the job. I suppose the fact that he'd lettered in three sports had something to do with it." "Yes, sir," says Eddie. "Athletics are fine, Mr. Cleaver. Of course, my father prefers me to develop in a normal manner." Ward grits his teeth and sighs as Eddie heads upstairs. "I thought you took these things in your stride," June reminds him. "Well, usually I do," says Ward, "but there's something about that Eddie that brings out the Babbitt in me." Sinclair Lewis's most famous novel, published in 1922, brought out the Babbitt in much of mid-century Middle America. George F. Babbitt's name eventually became synonymous with "a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards." We found seven cases of this author-title typo in OhioLINK this morning, and 98 in WorldCat.

(Sinclair Lewis, 7 March 1914, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trukey* (for Turkey*)

Tomorrow is the Great American Smokeout, so if you've been thinking about quitting, this might just be your day. (The true key to liberation, one could say.) It's apparently easier for some people to envision "cutting down" on cigarettes, though many experts believe that going "cold turkey" is best. So where does the expression "quitting cold turkey" come from? One theory is that it was based on an earlier one—"talking turkey"—which meant speaking plainly and frankly. Therefore, it's argued, to quit something "cold turkey" is to give it up with the same sort of unadorned directness. According to Mental Floss: "Another possibility is that it stems from actual cold pieces of turkey. To make cold, leftover bits of the bird into a meal requires very little preparation, as does abruptly quitting smoking." A third one suggests the somewhat chilling comparison between an addict going through withdrawal and the carcass of a plucked turkey: both are "clammy, pale, and covered in goosebumps." One final, if I may, and more facetious theory could be that Turkey has traditionally been full of smokers and that if all of its citizens were to have suddenly put down the hookah, as it were, it might have actually lowered the ambient temperature of that country, resulting in a cold Turkey! Best of luck to all of you quitters (as you focus solely on your health and disposable income, while trying to ignore the growing tyranny of the obnoxious anti-smoking lobby) and maybe you'll have a new thing to be thankful for in a couple of weeks, as you enjoy your leftover stuffing, baked yams, pumpkin pie, and cold turkey. We found three cases of Trukey* (for turkey*) in OhioLINK today, and 31 in WorldCat.

(Men and two children sit smoking pipes in a Turkish coffee house. Lithograph by J. Nash after D. Wilkie, 1840. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 17, 2014

Femins* (for Feminis*)

Last week, for the first time ever, I completely completed (excuse the redundancy, but I'm very excited) the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. I mentioned this to a friend and said that one of the clues had been "Koala bear, e.g." (Answer: "Misnomer.") He observed that people sometimes use the word misnomer to mean "misunderstanding" and that, furthermore, such a usage is "self-reflexive!" Or rather, he said, upon further reflection, "doubly self-reflexive!!" He meant that the speaker was misunderstanding a word he or she thinks means misunderstanding. I agreed that that was cool, and added that I prefer the word misapprehension for a "failure to comprehend." (To me, the former has a slightly different connotation: "We had a little misunderstanding.") Later in the day, another friend sent me a link to an article about a Time magazine poll concerning which word or phrase its readers would most like to see "banned" in 2015. Along with contenders such as bossy, sorry not sorry, bae, basic, and om nom nom, they also included the word feminist. (Hardly a neologism, boys, but widely hated, apparently, nonetheless.) The onomatopoetic phrase om nom nom put me in mind of my "misnomer" conversation earlier that morning and led me to our picture for the day. Feminists might not have a prayer if Time magazine has anything to say about it, but I have to say I love the idea of a praying mantis saying "Om" before dinner. We found 26 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK and 259 in WorldCat.

(Om nom nom, Mantis religiosa devouring a cricket, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 10, 2014

Centruy* (for Century*)

Although autumn is my favourite season, it always makes me think of mortality: the shortening days, the leaves falling and decomposing, squirrels gathering seeds as if the world is ending, and my own aching back after raking leaves. Autumn does feel like it’s about finality.

So I was amused when I came across a study from the University of Chicago in 2011 that suggests people born in the fall actually live longer. Researchers looked at people who lived to be 100, and compared the birth months of those who lived a full century to those who died younger. They found that people born in the fall (September, October, or November) had a higher chance of becoming a centenarian.

As a September baby myself, I quite like this finding: perhaps it means I will live to see flying cars invented, or an elevator to the moon. 

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Baltimore graveyard in autumn by Huw Williams, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sprit* + Spirit* (for Spirit* or Sprit*)

I recently attended a tour of Albany's Cherry Hill Mansion that included the reenactment of an infamous 1827 murder. John Whipple had been shot while sitting at his desk in the house on the Hudson where he lived with his wife, Elsie, and other members of the Van Rensselaer family. The assailant was a man named Jesse Strang (aka Joseph Orton), the newly hired hand and his wife's secret lover. Elsie was the niece by marriage of Philip P. Van Rensselaer and the granddaughter of Abraham A. Lansing. (The Lansings and Van Rensselaers, along with the Schuylers and Knickerbackers, were Albany royalty and often intermarried, mixing business with pleasure.) A spirited, attractive, and apparently amoral young woman (anxious for an inheritence to which she wasn't legally entitled while her husband was still alive), Elsie is widely considered the impetuous impetus and criminal mastermind behind the murder. She was ultimately acquitted of conspiracy, however, while her paramour, who had earlier confessed, paid the ultimate price. Strang was hanged on what is now the Empire State Plaza; the glamorously grisly event drew close to 40,000 onlookers. As a result of this unprecedented spectacle, it would be the last public execution ever to be held in the city. Elsie Whipple, who at the age of 24 had already been married for ten years, was equally restless and reckless. Upon meeting her one night in a local tavern, Jesse described her as "sprightly, playful, and giddy," advising his companion: "I would not mind passing a night in her chamber." The rest, as they say, is history. The day after taking the tour of Cherry Hill (along with whatever spirits still haunt it), I happened to catch an episode of Andy of Mayberry, which concluded, according to the closed captioning, with a bout of "sprightly whistling." I have also been thinking lately about planting some daffodils, which were once called "sprightly" by William Wordsworth in the poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." ("Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance...") The adjective sprightly comes from the word sprite, a sort of fairy-like creature. (The rather odd word fey has a similarly spiritual, although distinctly more sinister, connotation.) Spritual* was blogged about in 2010, but because it's such a high-probability typo, and because I couldn't think of a better one just now, we're resurrecting it in slightly different form today. There were 105 cases of this folie à deux in OhioLINK, and 1311 in WorldCat. But watch out: there may be a few sprites among them.

(Tossing Their Heads in Sprightly Dance; 18th March 2007 was a very blustery day in Colchester Cemetery. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lonliness (for Loneliness)

I just saw another Lon Chaney film over at the public library and am now more enamored than ever. The Penalty (1920) was directed by Wallace Worsley and based on a pulp novel by Gouverneur Morris (who also wrote The Ace of Hearts, giving rise to another great Chaney vehicle in 1921). Blizzard was a man consumed by bitterness, bad intent, and loneliness. His story was about as chilling and bizarre as it gets, and yet you still sort of sympathized, even as he plotted to destroy the city and wreak revenge on the surgeon who had maimed him. As a review by Fritzi Kramer puts it: "Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about a double amputee criminal mastermind who plans to take over San Francisco with a gang of anarchists wearing stylish straw hats?" Chaney, who was dubbed "The Man of a Thousand Faces," gets to portray the Devil in this one when he answers a classified ad from a local sculptress hoping to gain fame with a bust of Satan. At least a few of his horrifying grimaces, it would seem, may have been genuine, since in order to play his character realistically, he insisted on strapping his legs into painful leather stumps, which could only be worn for ten minutes at a time and actually left him with permanent knee damage. In light of our last blog entry (citing a 1920 article about Alice Trask and the San Francisco League for the Hard of Hearing), I should note that Lon Chaney's parents were both deaf and had met at the Colorado School for the Education of Mutes, founded by Lon's grandfather in 1874. As a likely result of his upbringing, Chaney developed an early facility for pantomime; his equally amazing aptitude for voices at first startled those who had previously known him only as a silent screen star. Lon Chaney was certainly willing to suffer for his art. He died at the age of 47 after contracting a lung infection from fake studio snow made of cornflakes. His death, writes Wikipedia, was "deeply mourned by his family, the film industry, and his fans." Today's typo is hardly a lonely one, with 51 hits in OhioLINK, and 434 in WorldCat.

(1923 Lon Chaney portrait, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 3, 2014

Heard of hearing (for Hard of hearing)

A colleague recently showed me a catalog record containing our rather delightful typo of the day, along with its bracketed correction. The misprint was on the work itself, a 1994 New York State Assembly document. The title field read: Public hearing on communication barriers in health care for persons who are deaf, deaf-blind or heard [i.e. hard] of hearing. It more or less spoke for itself, but my coworker added the following for amplitude: "A little tone-deaf considering the topic, no?" Yep, I hear ya, and so, I'm sure, would have Alice N. Trask, a woman who might've been hard of hearing, but once you have heard of her, is pretty hard to forget. (The hat and stole alone speak volumes. Or at least one lovely, slim volume or two.) In 1915, Trask was appointed the head of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing; she later founded and presided over the San Francisco League for the Hard of Hearing, as well as the San Francisco School of Lip-Reading. An "Appreciation" published in the Volta Review in 1920 describes her influence thusly: "She realizes that the ideal teacher of lip-reading must more nearly approach a metaphysician than any other class of instructor, dealing, as she does, with so much that is intangible; that it requires so much intuition, such fine sensibilities and nice adjustment to get en rapport with natures so oversensitive and unapproachable; and also that it is very necessary that the teacher be blessed with enough of their infirmity (deafness) to inspire them with courage and hope. There is nothing so cheering to the deafened as to find some one who is deafer. Mrs. Trask is very cheering in this regard." You may or may not be cheered to hear that we uncovered seven cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 122 in WorldCat.

(Alice N. Trask, from The Volta Review, V. 23 No. 11, Nov 1921, p. 478, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid