Monday, April 30, 2007

April 30, 2007 - Muscians

In North America, spring is in full bloom and music is in the air, so the presence of Muscians for Musicians on our Moderate Probability list seemed just the ticket to stay current with today's mood. This is one to watch out for if you get your records from OCLC, as there are 86 hits for the typo in Worldcat this morning. The dropped 'I' in a multi-syllable word is by far the most common typo in a library database. We suggest you put on your MP3 player, settle down to your catalog control system, and look for this typo and its cousins 'muisc' and 'musicans.'

Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27, 2007 - Authur*

OhioLINK has 96 records containing the word Authur*, which appears on the "high probability" portion of the Ballard list of library typos (along with Authr*). In some cases, it's a misspelling of the word author, etc.; in others, it's a misspelling of the name Arthur. As someone who occasionally puns on my own last name (Reid), I am reminded of the children's book character Arthur Read (see Arthur's Lost Library Book, D.W. and the Library Card, Locked in the Library!, and Arthur Writes a Story). Arthur and I might both like to write stories someday, but since spelling counts, I'm sure neither of us wants to be known as an "Authurian" legend.

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 26, 2007 – Harrass*

The word harass is widely misspelled and therefore shows up as a frequent typo in OPACs, on Google, and everywhere else. Harrassment alone appears 67 times in OhioLINK. The American Heritage Dictionary relates it to the word harry ("Harass and harry imply systematic persecution by besieging with repeated annoyances, threats, or demands"), which may partially explain the tendency to include an extra R when spelling harass. I find "her ass" to be a useful, if somewhat crude and perhaps ironic, mnemonic when it comes to spelling today's typo, as harassment is so often coupled with the word sexual. If you have trouble spelling this word, you might find that pronouncing it the way the British do (putting emphasis on the first syllable) will help you keep your Rs in check. And not to bug you, but also look for these forms of the word found on the Ballard listHarrassed, Harrasses, Harrassing and Harasss*.

(Picture by Baltasar Lobo, from Platero and I: An Andalusian Elegy by Juan Ramón Jiménez. Donkey is writing the word Asnografia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25, 2007 - Professinal

Good secretaries have probably checked their calendars this morning and already know that today is their day: Administrative Professionals Day. While it's doubtful that secretary was too hard to spell (though some may be thinking of stationery, which—when it means stuck in one place, not going anywhere—should be spelled stationary), it was more likely just due time for a new euphemism. Since we already blogged Adminstration back in October, we're going to concentrate here on the many ways there are to miskey professional. My own OPAC sported half a dozen records with the typo Proffes* as well as Professinal* and Professon* (which appear in the "high probability" section of the Ballard list) and Professioi* and Professoi* from the "moderate probability" section. Take a letter, if you will, but be sure to put it back where it belongs.

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 24, 2007 - Grammer

Bertrand Russell relates the story of how "Pope Gregory the Great wrote to a certain bishop a letter beginning: 'A report has reached us which we can not mention, without a blush, that thou expoundest grammar to certain friends.' The bishop was compelled by pontifical authority to desist from this wicked labor, and Latinity did not recover until the Renaissance..." To this day, matters of grammar can make people sanguine (in the medieval sense) and one can also see why they might think the word itself is spelled Grammer, especially insofar as its meaning as a pedagogical text goes (think primer). One might expect a metaphorical rapping of the knuckles, though, the moment such spellers go adjectival; in the case of grammatical, the A is clearly heard. In any case, it appears that grammer was the accepted (or an acceptable) spelling prior to the 17th century (along with gramer and gramayre), but by the 1600s, writers like Francis Bacon and John Milton were already spelling it grammar, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. This is a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list and worth searching your catalogs for, but be careful of proper nouns (like Kelsey Grammer), place names (like Grammercy Park), and older forms of the word.

Carol Reid

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23, 2007 - Califonia

Califonia for California is in the High Probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at . When we tried it this morning we found 21 hits in OHIOlink and nearly 150 in Worldcat. This follows the classic pattern of a missing letter in a long word. In Google, there are more than a half million hits for this, so it's another case of a word that is frequently mistyped in predictable ways. As always, librarians should check the individual records to be sure that the word is a cataloging error before a correction is made. Thanks to Carol Reid for setting up the TinyURLs and for showing us how to add hosted pictures into the body of these postings.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20, 2007 - Facism

Today is the birthday of Adolf Hitler, who was both Aryan and Ariean (if only arguably an Aryan and actually a Taurean, albeit on the cusp of Aries). His political philosophy has become the basis of neologisms like Islamofascism and his party’s name has been lower-cased in the service of an acute strain of politically correct. Hitler had many minions and has spawned wannabes worldwide, but he was sine qua non among dictators. That reality was neatly reflected in the results I got when I looked for Facism (a “high probability” typo on the Ballard list) in my library’s OPAC. There were 28 hits, but only one for the word fascism. The rest were all misspellings of facsim., i.e., copies of the genuine article. (OhioLINK also shows 24 examples of Facist*.)

(Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, 1940, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19, 2007 - Perodical

Today’s entry is a period piece. The word period has 15 different meanings (as a noun alone), from the fields of geology, physics, and astronomy, to music, math, and chemistry. Consider that fact, along with how often the word Periodical(s) appears in library records, and you can see why there would be a lot of typos here. My own OPAC had over 100, as does OhioLINK. Typographical Errors in Library Databases ( includes Periodc*, Perodical*, Peridic*, Periodicl*, Peridoic*, Peroid*, Peridodic*, Periiodical*, and Perod. The Greek word periodos means “going around, way around, going around in a circle” and eventually gave rise to the Latin perihodos, “a punctuation mark used at the end of a rhetorical period.” In The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, the 1963 book by Norman Juster and Academy Award winning cartoon by Chuck Jones, the Line must go to great lengths in order to win the Dot’s heart. Take your trusty list of errors in hand, go forth, and proof your catalog. You’ll be glad you did. Period.

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 18, 2007 - Philadelpha

Philadelpha for Philadelphia - somebody almost got to the end of the word and then ran out of luck. This is one of 10 variations of Philadelphia that show up in the list of high probability words on the Main Page of library typos at
The others are Phiadel*, phialdel*, Philadelh*, Philadelphi, Philadelpia, Philadeph*, Philadl*, Phildel*, and Philidel*. We suspect that librarians in the Keystone State have their work cut out for them. Some other day, we'll talk about the different ways that people have spelled Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007 - Intenral

Since today is the day that good citizens in the United States must settle with the Internal Revenue Service, we were looking for an appropriate typo for the occasion. Going shopping through the list of known library typos in one alphabet, we found nothing in the range of taxation or revenue, but did find "Intenral" for Internal, so that will have to do. You don't have to worry much about this one being in your catalog—there were only two hits for this in WorldCat this morning.

Monday, April 16, 2007

April 16, 2007 - Engish

Engish for English is a classic case of a missing L. After the obvious vowels, L is the most likely dropped letter in library catalog typos. It highlights the tendency in the human mind to fill in information that isn't there. This is on the B section of the Main Typos page of the Ballard list, meaning that it was found at least 16 times in OHIOLINK.

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13, 2007 - Fourty

On this most superstitious of Fridays, I'm going to just skip ahead and talk about the fourteenth, the fortieth, forty, and other related words. OhioLINK contains 77 hits on the typo Fourty (making it a candidate for high probability on the Ballard list), as well as six on Fourtieth. It seems that even on forms of four where the U is retained, there is still room for error, as seen in the four examples of Fourteeth and eight of Fourten* found in OhioLINK. How do I love this typo? Let me count the ways ... There are fifty Twelths, five Thirtenths, three Fiftenths, three Sixtenths, one Sevententh, six Eightenths, 19 Ninetenths, and 61 Ninteenths in OhioLINK. I could go on and on, but I'll leave it up to you to take a number and make the corrections in your catalog. There are bound to be a lot of jumbled numbers in library records due to the practice of writing out numerals in the 246 alternate title field, as well as all the items that refer to various centuries (seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, etc.). You can discover common number typos by searching Google, which, incidentally, is itself a misspelling of a number: googol (the figure 1 followed by 100 zeroes).

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 12, 2007 - Appendex

In the 1939 classic children's book Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans made a sort of pictorial "typo." At the same time that his eponymous heroine is recuperating from an appendectomy in the hospital, "twelve little girls in two straight lines" all still manage to appear at the dinner table. There is a persistent myth that this error was corrected in later editions, but this is probably an attempt to convince book collectors that they possess a rare "uncorrected" volume. As a colleague of mine comments: "I hope they haven't corrected it. It's just the kind of thing that a child (who can count, or had expected an empty chair) would delight in pointing out to an oblivious adult." Oddly enough, an "appendix" is something added to the main body of a work, in addition to something often removed from the body. This flexibility is also reflected in the many different ways that the word can be misspelled. Typographical Errors in Library Databases lists seven variations: Appenddix, Appendex*, Appendii*, Appendx, Appendicx, Appendinx, and Appendox. Ask your doctor if this typo may be right for you.

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April 11, 2007 - Wrod

While there is only one record in OhioLINK containing this word for word, only one in my own OPAC, and a relatively scant 18 in WorldCat— being the word lovers that we are, we certainly don't want to spare the Wrod. I'm actually kind of surprised there aren't more instances of this typo out there. It's one I find myself making fairly often (probably due to the proximity of the W and R letters on the keyboard and the number of words that contain the WR digraph), although I generally spot it right away and hastily backspace to redo it. Take a moment today to look for this small, familiar, and self-referential word and make sure that it's spelled correctly. As Stephen Colbert, "trademarker" of the phrase "Librarians are hiding something" and putative coiner of the word truthiness would say: "And that's the Word."

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 10, 2007 - Avaiable

As librarians, we strive to make our records and materials as available to patrons as possible. Unfortunately, the word available itself often isn't. Quite a few variants on this typo can be found on the Ballard list, ranging from high to low probability: Avaiab*, Aviala*, Avilab*, Avaib*, Availabli, Availble, Avalable, and Availible. (Note, however, that in the case of one Avialae, no longer available in the animal kingdom, we're not looking at a typo, but rather at a dino, or even more impressively, a "feathered dragon.") This plethora may be due to uncertainty over the correct spelling as well as the miskeying that sometimes occurs in words that contain multiples of the same letter. I found 62 of these in my own library’s catalog, so you might want to check out yours as well. Void where prohibited. Subject to availability.

Carol Reid

Monday, April 9, 2007

April 9, 2007 - Crucifiction

Today we're going to get a little Easter punny. OhioLINK yields 21 hits on the search Crucifiction, all but five of which basically refer to the same item, an eighteenth-century relic entitled A Copy of a Letter Written by Our Blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ: Found Under a Great Stone Sixty-five Years After His Crucifiction. The finders of this piece clearly didn't find it fictive, but the fact that some of the records include [sic] in the title suggests that the sin was in the original. Two sound recordings (Assück's Anticapital, "Specialized Crucifiction" and Procol Harum's A Salty Dog, "Crucifiction Lane") are most likely wordplay; another one, from The Children's Bible, surely is not. And then there's the strange case of Kafka Kalmar: Une Crucifiction, where it's hard to tell whether the misspelling was intentional and a subsequent edition with a slightly reworded title "corrected" it to Crucifixion or it was a typo in the original. Blessedly, my own OPAC proved immaculate in this regard, although WorldCat currently contains 69 records with Crucifiction in the title (some of which are pointedly deliberate, such as Crucifixion or Crucifiction?). Nineteen records, however, can be nailed for introducing this typo into a subject field. The Ballard list was a revelation too, with Crucifixen, Crucifixon, Crucifixian, and Crucifixtion, in addition to the also potentially sardonic Crucifixation.

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 5, 2007

April 6, 2007 - Bellweather

Bellweather for the actually correct "Bellwether" is one more word that has not yet been tracked by the Libtypos team, but it qualifies for the "Low probability" section of the list by appearing twice in OhioLINK this morning. This typo came up years ago because it appeared by mistake on the Main Page of the Ballard list and the eagle-eyed Phalbe Henriksen set the culprit straight. However nobody at the time, apparently, checked OhioLINK. This is in a class of typos that appears, not because of faulty hand movements, but because somebody didn't know how to spell the word. The classic example of that is "Questionaire" for "Questionnaire." On the other hand, the secret to Bellweather's low count is simply that it is a word that people don't use very much.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April 4, 2007 - Assemby

Assemby for assembly is a classic missing letter typo, as 'L' is the most likely consonant to be dropped from a word by a careless cataloger. This shows up in the high probability section on the main page of OPAC typos, meaning that it generated at least 16 hits in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. Indeed, it is seen 35 times this morning in OhioLINK. Going back to the source, WorldCat shows 159 of them in the OCLC database. The most painful example is the first title displaying, because the title has only that one word and it is wrong.

Monday, April 2, 2007

April 3, 2007 - Scientiest

After yesterday's blockbuster entry, we'll swim to the other side of the typo pool for today's entry - "Scientiest" for "Scientist." At a recent discussion about "Which words to pick" there was a suggestion that we aim for words that evoke some sort of comic response. This one appealed to us and caused us to immediately think of the word "Truthiness." Anyway, Scientiest is on the list of very low probability typos. Checking WorldCat we found 14, and the first title had 'sic' before the offending word. That means of course that the word was misspelled in the original on the title page, so it was cataloged correctly. Now we will go off and ponder which scientists in the global warming debate are the "Scientiest."

April 2, 2007 - Virgina

Welcome to the new and improved Typo of the Day for Librarians. Our first example, Virgina, started off as a news story. West Virginia won the NIT tournament last week. At the end of the game they started distributing the championship t-shirts. However, the company that had printed them the night before gave the fans a surprise by economizing on a letter. Surprisingly, this word did not appear on the list of library typos, so we checked it out in OhioLINK and did a double take. There were more than 200 hits - making it one of the worst typos that you could ever find in a library catalog. WorldCat showed more than 1000 hits for this. Run do not walk, to your OPAC and see how you fare.