Friday, February 27, 2015

Micropint (for Microprint)

I chose today’s word because it immediately reminded me of the “Bluff the Listener” segment on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.  If you don’t listen to the show, the three guest panelists all spin a story about a recent news event to a call-in contestant.  However, only one is true, and it’s up to the contestant to spot the fakes. 

Can’t you just hear Peter Sagal saying, “OK, you’ve now heard three amazing stories about these so-called micropints.  First there was Leanne Olson’s report about a group of downtown pubs in London, Ontario, conspiring to routinely short their customers during happy hour.  Next was Deb Kulczak’s account of an entrepreneurial start-up dairy in Arkansas that caters to people who just can’t seem to use up that carton of milk before the expiration date by marketing a size they call ‘just perfect.’  And finally, Carol Reid told us about a cool blog called ‘Typo of the Day for Librarians’ that inspires librarians everywhere to rid their databases of garbage like ‘micropint.’  Which is the real story?”

We think you, our readers, will have no trouble identifying it!  Fortunately, micropint will also be easy.  There is just 1 instance in OhioLINK and 9 in WorldCat.

(Pinocchio, who could tell lies undetected on a radio show.  Illustration by Enrico Mazzanti, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vocl* (for Vocals, Vocalist, etc.)

My sister is pursuing a master’s degree in voice performance, and she was assigned a most entertaining project for her vocal pedagogy class this semester: fashion a larynx out of whatever material(s) she wanted. For those of you not familiar with the larynx’s appearance (as I was not), it doesn’t lend itself to rendering in just any medium. Legos, for instance, would be a non-starter for anyone but a Lego engineer.

So I suggested crocheting one. If the larynx itself is a rather bizarre-looking organ, I reasoned, why not multiply that effect with yarn? And as Lucia began to take form (yes, she acquired a name), she certainly lived up to our expectations. We finally decided she resembled some strange mix of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. But you be the judge. (Surely it won’t influence your opinion to know that Lucia was voted best larynx in the class.)

As if this story weren’t silly enough—Google “crocheted larynx,” and you will find there are others out there! Fortunately not as many as today’s typo Vocl*, which was found 28 times in the OhioLINK database and 535 in WorldCat. Many are not actually errors, and sound recordings look to be your most fertile ground for clean-up.

(Lucia the Larynx)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suppp* (for Support, Supplement, Supply, etc.)

Today’s typo is definitely another that fits into the category of “abundant.” Suppp* appears in the records for 43 English-language titles in the OhioLINK database (50 total records), and in WorldCat, the numbers are even higher: 771 in English, and 1,070 altogether.

If hunting and correcting typos in your library catalog strikes you as slightly fussy, consider also the process of ordering library processing supplies, particularly for media materials. I am tasked with this responsibility in my library, and in an era when so many things are electronic, all those CDs, DVDs, and kits can be downright demanding when they’re not shelf-ready. How many pieces does that case hold? Will it accommodate a large accompanying book? Can it be customized for non-standard combinations? You get the picture. It takes a certain amount of patience just to wade through the media supplies section of your favorite vendor’s catalog.

And if I’ve now made you feel that fixing those typos isn’t such a big deal, my work here is done!

(Jewel Case, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, February 20, 2015

Videdisc*, etc. (for Videodisc*)

An astute and observent reader writes in to tell us of a "rather distressing typo that has a staggering 939 occurences in WorldCat: Videdisc (typically in the 300 field)..." He goes on to say that the following variants can also be found: Vidodisc (36 times), Videodis (162 times), Vdeodisc (9 times), Videodic (134 times), Vidoedisc (117 times), Vediodisc (22 times), Vidiodisc (24 times), Videodsic (93 times), and Videodics (354 times). "What on earth is it about this word," he asks, "that we struggle so much with?!" This one is a very big apple to take a bite out of, so just select one or two of these today, if you don't have time to do all of them. And speaking of big apples, one of our reference librarians got a query the other day from a fourth-grader in another state who wanted to know why New York City was called the "Big Apple." Also, why there are "two people that look like angles on the flag?" (Which is a great question, and possibly a typo for another time.) The answers are rather easily discovered on the web, of course, but it's pretty endearing that there are still kids out there who would consider asking a librarian. When my friend replied with the information, the grateful girl wrote back: "Wow when i read the email it was so amazing and so historical it blow my mind. i bet you will never get fired from your job becaese your amazing and so talented your ganna be my favorite librarian." Sweet. Apple polisher or not, I think this kid's probably "ganna" go far. Vide (which is Latin for "see") these typos in your own catalog today—if you manage to fix them all, you just might be our favorite librarian too!

(Sous-Vide Gala Apple, January 1, 1980, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vetrinar* (for Veterinar*)

The other day I was watching one of those daytime TV judge shows and the litigant was testifying as to what a good pet owner she was. Her dog, she said, had been "fully vetted," by which she meant that it had had all of its shots. Cute, I thought snarkily, although it did eventually cause me to wonder about the derivation of the word vetted, as we typically know it to mean. According to Wikipedia: "To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning 'to check.'" So on second thought, it would seem that the woman wasn't wrong in her usage after all, and was really just employing an unusually literal meaning for the word. And maybe not so unusual at that. Merriam-Webster gives "to provide veterinary care for (an animal) or medical care for (a person); to subject (a person or animal) to a physical examination or checkup" as its primary definition of the transitive verb, and lists the sort of "vetting" of manuscripts or politicians second. Vet your catalogs for this dog of a typo, which was found four times in OhioLINK, and 183 times in WorldCat. (Note: the less common variant Veteranar* was found 28 times in WorldCat.)

(A veterinary surgeon in the UK, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 16, 2015

Endager* (for Endanger*)

I spotted a typo on Slate the other day in the sentence: "Police Say Police-Tracking Function in Waze Endagers [sic] Police." When I looked for it again a few minutes later, it was no longer there: the typo had apparently been corrected, naturally causing me to doubt whether I had actually seen it at all. But good for them if they did fix it—now it's your turn: Endager* turns up once in OhioLINK, and 166 times in WorldCat. And speaking of endangered species, passenger pigeons were once rife in North America, flocking together and blackening the skies. They quickly grew imperiled as hunters dispatched them with abandon, for both their meat and other attributes—in 1822, according to Wikipedia, "one family in Chautauqua County, New York, killed 4,000 pigeons in a day solely for their feathers." On September 1, 1914, they went extinct, with the death of "Martha" (the last of her kind, gamely named for our first First Lady, Martha Washington) at the age of 29 in the Cincinnati Zoological Garden.

(Martha, date unknown, from the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 9, 2015

Russs* (for Russ*)

Today I was poking around the Internet, looking for something inspirational to write on the whiteboard above my desk. I stumbled across this, from the brilliant Russian (not Russsian) writer Fyodor Dostoevsky:
The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.
Wise words – it’s always good to question what you think you know, and remember how much you don’t know. I wonder if it’s exponential, however: if I call myself a fool more than once a month, does that make me even cleverer?
If so, I’m at my most genius on snowy mornings rushing to work. This morning, I called myself a fool at least four times:
  1. When my alarm went off and I couldn’t figure out what the noise was. Did aliens land? Am I baking a cake? Is that the phone?
  2. When I put my sweater on inside out
  3. When I couldn’t find my left boot, even though I had worn it just last night
  4. When I fell down, not on the ice getting to work, but on the floor inside my office

If Dostoevsky is correct, I probably shouldn’t spend all my foolish cleverness on this blog post. I’m off to prove Beal’s Conjecture, translate the Voynich manuscript, and figure out the meaning of the Nazca Lines.  I'll leave you with these stats: Russs* is a high probability typo, with 170 instances of Russsia and 245 cases of Russsian appearing in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Image of the Tarot Fool card from Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by user Fuzzypeg.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Illustat* (for Illustrat*)

The other day I happened upon a little book in the stacks that it seemed might better be housed up in Manuscripts & Special Collections (a non-circulating area), due to its illustrations by Dr. Seuss. It's also apparently quite rare, with only two copies listed on AbeBooks, both of them priced at over $1,000. Fortunately, the folks upstairs agreed with me. The book, written by Albert Deane, is titled Spelling Bees: The Oldest and the Newest Rage, and was published in 1937. It's peppered with small pen and ink drawings by Dr. Seuss, including a couple of "Horton," as my coworker delightedly noted, "disguised as a bee." This typo is one of "highest probability," according to the Ballard list, and should be looked for and corrected STAT. We discovered 143 cases of Illustat* in OhioLINK today, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

(Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus, by Norman Rockwell, 1918, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Netwok* (for Network*)

Last March, in what has to be the greatest spelling bee irony ever (one that tops even the excruciating flubbing of a word like misspell), Fox News went on the air with an un-be-lievable rendering of the term "spelling bee," which it carelessly seems to have lost interest in after the second e. "Longest spelling be ever?" the crawl limply yawns. "11 & 13 year olds finally finish competition." (It's really too bad they couldn't have managed to finish their own not-so-very long word there. To "bee" or not to "be"? Um, what was the question?) Okay, okay, I know it's a little too much fun to make sport of stuff like this, and I guess we're all human and everything, but seriously, guys. What kind of a world are we living in where people don't even have to think before they write? Or after? Or when it's not even people doing the writing? Fox is often not seen as the most stellar of news outlets, but silly slips of the techno-tongue and slaps in the face of geeky schoolchildren (kidding!) like that one can only spell future disdain for the current network. There were 12 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 331 in WorldCat.

(Fox News Live, TV interview, NYC, 4 April 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, February 2, 2015

Murmer* (for Murmur*)

April 10, 2013, was a dark day in proofreading history, and a seeming bummer for the "greatest magazine that ever was." The New Yorker is known far and wide for its wonderful writing and impeccable editing, though there must have been a few murmurs afoot that day as readers perused a story entitled "Animals" by Simon Rich.* The offending line, which was spoken by a neglected, starving, single-father hamster, was this: "When he walks by my cage, I peak [sic] at the engraving on his trophy." And no, he was not "talking about the level of his excitement," as one friend wryly suggested—although he was awfully excited for a hamster. But probably no more so than another friend was, the one who had actually spotted this blot on the magazine's famous reputation. ("Look at this," he announced, in dire tones: "The New Yorker has fallen and it can't get up!") Typos in the New Yorker, as it bemusedly turns out, though, are not as rare as you might think. And confusing the homonyms peek and peak is pretty common too, as we once pointed out in a blog entry from 2010. Unlike peak for peek, Murmer* (for murmur*) is more of a misspelling than a wrong word choice or typo in the classic sense. We're featuring it here today in honor of our beloved New Yorker; its hilarious (and erstwhile?) "Shouts and Murmurs"; and our shared dedication to the principles of good editing and the proposition that apparently nobody's perfect. There were 30 examples of this typo found in OhioLINK, and 367 in WorldCat.

*I'm still not sure of the date of the print edition, or whether this piece was even published in print. It seems that it may have only appeared in the online "Daily Shouts" column. In any case, the typo was corrected in the book Spoiled Brats, published in 2014.

(Hamster, by August Gaul, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid