Friday, April 24, 2015

Cleaniness (for Cleanliness)

I go past a laundromat on my way to work that often makes me think of this typo blog. It's called the "Clean Swipe" laundry. That's not really a typo there, though; it's more like what I would call a "conflated idiom," where the speaker is obviously trying to recall an actual expression, but can somehow only manage to come close. In this case, the more established term would have been "clean sweep," "clean slate," or "clean start." There's no such thing as a "clean swipe," but one can easily imagine where the confusion must have come from, i.e., "to wipe the slate clean." In the book Clean Clarence by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich (and illustrated by the late great Louis Slobodkin), Clarence is a neat freak trapped in a pig's body, and one who wants nothing more than to come out of his closet nattily attired in a raincoat and galoshes. Cleanliness here is next to hogliness, and it's not too happy about it! There was only one occurrence of Cleaniness in OhioLINK today, and 15 in WorldCat. Let's clean our slates of this untidy typo, as our dear friend Clarence would clearly like us all to do.

(Cover of Clean Clarence, 1959, from Io Sono: the Louis Slobodkin website.)

Carol Reid


Anonymous said...

On the other hand--with a tip of the hat to Stephen Colbert--if I get the bathroom or my desk to the point where I feel intuitively that they are satisfactory, whatever someone else says, haven't I brought them to a state of cleaniness?

librarytypos said...

Excellent point, R.A.! Please see the Slobodkin website for more on my own claim to the coinage of "truthiness"...;-)