Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Erogonomics (for Ergonomics)

The International Ergonomics Association defines its area of study as "the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance." We librarian types should be interested in ergonomics, as should all those whose vocations involve repetitive motions.

Erogonomics is listed as a lowest-probability typo, and there are currently 2 occurrences of it in the OhioLink database. So the keystrokes required to correct these errors in your own catalog should pose no threat!

(Ergonomic Glows by ljleavell, from the Stock.XCHNG photo site)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Verison (for Version)

Verison is a low-probability typo with 10 entries in the OhioLink database. All of them represent the word version. But an effective advertising campaign by the wireless giant Verizon guaranteed that I would read today's typo as a misspelling of their company name. Can you hear me now?

(Verizon ad in Chinatown, San Francisco, posted by Patrick Swint on Flickr)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nationa (for National, Nations, etc.)

Last week yielded a bumper crop of politicians on national television–outside the news, that is. President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton each appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, and while these two interviews were rather dignified affairs, the same really cannot be said of Tom DeLay’s performance on Dancing with the Stars. The costumed former Congressman could be seen hamming it up for the cameras and shaking his booty as he danced the cha-cha-cha with partner Cheryl Burke to the tune of “Wild Thing.”

If you want to keep tabs on DeLay’s progress, you can follow him on Twitter. If, however, you’re more concerned about your catalog’s performance, hunt down and correct instances of Nationa. This high-probability typo occurs 34 times in OhioLink English-language entries, and most of them are in transcribed fields.

("Dancing with the Stars" set, by Jeff Henshaw, from Flickr)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stoney (for Stony)

Along with the rest of the green world, Stony Brook University bid farewell to a beloved biology professor when renowned ecologist Larry Slobodkin died at his home on Long Island, New York, on September 11, 2009. Larry began graduate studies at Yale University at the age of 18, working with the esteemed G. Evelyn Hutchinson, and later took a job at Stony Brook where he founded the first department of ecology and evolutionary biology in the country, according to his obituary in the New York Times. Lawrence Basil Slobodkin was 33 years old when his father illustrated Andrew Packard's Mr. Spindles and the Spiders in 1961. In this charming children's book Louis gently ribs his scientist son with a tiny shingle reading "Prof. L. B. Slokin, Specialist" on the page where the author defines a specialist as "a man you read about in the newspapers who knows only one thing." As a polymath who brought an artistic sensibility to the world of science, Larry knew considerably more than that. Among other things, he coauthored the seminal paper known in environmental circles as "The World Is Green" and graced us with this autobiographical essay (ironically containing a variant of today's typo right in the header) published in 2009. Stoney Brook appears twice in OhioLINK and Stony + Stoney turns up ten times.

(Larry Slobodkin thinking Deep Thoughts at Yale.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Salve* (for Slave*)

There is no salve on earth capable of easing the unspeakable pain of slavery. During Reconstruction, freed slaves were promised "forty acres and a mule," although that supposed compensation for their trouble was later rescinded. Today our leaders are still debating "reparations" as a way of saying we're sorry. But such gestures don't begin to touch the truth of it, nor should we ever allow ourselves to forget this terrible chapter in American history. OhioLINK reveals five instances of Salvery for slavery and a combined search on Salve* + Slave* returns 21 hits, although half a dozen or more are not typographical errors.

(Scars of a whipped slave, April 2, 1863, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Original caption: "Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer. The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture." From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writting* (for Writing*)

Library hand is what they used to call that beautiful, upstanding, somewhat left-leaning handwriting seen on library catalog cards. It was actually taught to students in library school and was the brainchild of Melvil Dewey. Sadly, the authority record for Library handwriting doesn't even include Library hand as a cross reference. How quickly they forget! But if you prefer to remember, check out those titles found in WorldCat under that subject heading, which include several by Dewey and one by IUriĭ Vladimirovich Grigor'ev, along with Deutsche Büchereihandschrift by Erwin Ackerknecht (1925) and Library Hand: A Lost Art by Thomas Graham Lee (1977). Another possibility for gaining insight into the mysterious world of library hand is John Cotton Dana's A Library Primer published in 1920. (This one was mentioned on the Web, but does not contain the Library handwriting heading in OCLC.) And, lastly, for you true romantics who might want to try and recreate this golden age in your own manual communication, a nice essay by Emily Yoffe on Slate tells us who to see about improving our penmanship. Writting* appears 21 times in OhioLINK, one with a "sic" and a couple others too old for us to be sure whether or not spelling counts.

(Boston Public Library view, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Miniscul* (for Minuscul*)

Some schools probably spend too much time working on the dress code (in my day, it was the length of the girls' skirts and the boys' hair) and not enough time working on the spelling of tricky words like minuscule. A search in OhioLINK for Miniscul* gets 11 hits, making this far more than a minuscule typo—after all, the correct spelling only gets 93. Take special care to consult the source directly before making any changes (if the error occurs in a transcribed field). This is a remarkably easy mistake to make, though. The U and I keys are right next to each other; it's an extremely common misspelling; and the cataloger may have been momentarily distracted by hazy memories of miniskirts in high school.

(Prize Winners at the Wenman School in July 1970, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Monday, September 21, 2009

Intelleg* (for Intellig*)

Intellegence gets 21 hits in OhioLINK and Intellegent gets three. If you truncate to Intelleg*, you'll get a lot more (55 to be exact), but some may not be typos. Most probably are, though, so if you know your foreign languages, feel free to try that too. Sine qua non silent screen star Louise Brooks was totally amazing from head to toe. Photographers often focused on her china-doll face and disarming flapper bob—Kenneth Tynan dubbed her "The Girl in the Black Helmet" in a 1979 New Yorker essay that lifted her out of latter-day obscurity—but her legs were equally arresting. Louise Brooks was both elegant and intelligent. She originally trained as a dancer and debuted with the Denishawn company in 1922, but was booted from the troupe two years later. She then began making movies but found Hollywood difficult (the feeling was mutual) and and finally found her true metier in Germany, working for director G.W. Pabst in such classic roles as Lulu in Pandora's Box. The more cerebral side of Brooks can be seen in the book of essays entitled Lulu in Hollywood, which she published in 1982 at the age of 76.

(Portrait of Louise Brooks by Otto Dyar
, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pysc* (for Psyc*)

I recently caught a 1955 movie on TCM Underground called The Cobweb, based on a book by William Gibson. It's about a tussle over some library drapes. Seriously. It takes place in a psychiatric hospital where we're told that the difference between the doctors and the patients is that "the patients get better." Richard Widmark plays the head doctor who wants the inmates to run the asylum (at least insofar as making their own curtains goes), Gloria Grahame plays his social-climbing wife who wants the window treatments to be expensive and impressive to the visiting trustees, Lillian Gish plays the hospital administrator and penny-pincher who wants the drapes drab and economical, and John Kerr (whose role was almost given to James Dean) plays the artistic neurotic who wants to make drawings of the residents and silkscreen them onto muslin panels.

Today's high-probability typo (for words like psychiatry and psychology) occurs 147 times in OhioLINK. I considered blogging about libraries, hospitals, or institutions, but those have already been done, and the word drapes is quite possibly found more often in the film than it is in the catalog. Cool Cinema Trash writes: "There's hardly a scene that goes by in The Cobweb where the characters don't mention the dreaded drapes at least a half a dozen times. In fact, The Cobweb would make the perfect drinking game. Just take a shot every time a character says the word drapes. Anyone playing is guaranteed to be rushed to the hospital for blood alcohol poisoning before the movie is over." William Gibson, who died at age 94 in 2008, was the author of The Miracle Worker and was married to a psychotherapist. Cast member Oscar Levant, a patient in an actual mental institution at the time, is reported to have snapped at director Vincente Minnelli: "Don't try to tell me how to play crazy! I'm crazier than you could ever hope to be!"

(William Gibson in 1964, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unives* (for University, etc.)

It's probably an overstatement to call this one the universal typo, but Unives* turns up 273 times in OhioLINK and most assuredly will in most other databases also. No matter what school you may attend or which languages you speak, university and its relatives invariably include an R. Hopefully, you won't have to write it out a hundred times or more in order to erase today's typo from your own catalog.

(Built for one, this photo of a "fender light Vespa" was taken in 1952, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mucis* (for Music*)

Although we don't generally care to associate bodily fluids like mucus with the more ethereal experience of music, in point of fact they play a large role in the playing of both wind and brass instruments—which actually include something called the "spit valve." Iconic jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong and his famous embouchure would literally produce blood, sweat, and possibly even tears, while performing. The ubiquitous white handkerchief was used for dabbing drops of blood from Satchmo's stressed lower lip. Mucis* gets nine hits in OhioLINK today.

(Taken in 1953, this image comes from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and the New York World-Telegram and Sun.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Musuc*, Musc (for Music*)

A popular pop music style in the 1970s, disco had its roots in both the black and gay communities. The word itself, of course, is short for discothèque, a portmanteau word coined around 1941, combining the forms disc (gramophone record) and bibliothèque (library). Disco had people dancing in their seats as well as in the streets. It also had its fair share of detractors, many of whom delighted in a certain disdain succinctly expressed in the rallying cry "Disco Sucks." There are three hits in OhioLINK for Musuc*, making it a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list, but one I just couldn't resist. In addition, we get 20 hits for Musc, about half of which are musical missteps, while most of the rest (I think) are the German medical abbreviation for muscles. And one is a misspelt Muse.

(Vicki Sue Robinson, who had a huge success with my all-time favorite disco song "Turn the Beat Around," from Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World!)

Carol Reid

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dipolma* (for Diplomat, etc.)

I'm not sure how to put this tactfully, but there seem to be about a dozen occurrences of Dipolma*—typos for words like diplomat and diplomacy—in the OhioLINK database today. In any case, our man of the hour is the slightly smug subject of a 1999 book by Donald Gillies called Radical Diplomat: The Life of Archibald Clark Kerr, Lord Inverchapel, 1882-1951. Kerr was the British ambassador to Moscow during World War II and a leftist thought by some to be a Communist sympathizer on account of his "remarkable" relationship with Stalin. However, no hint of scandal could possibly top for sheer notoriety this hysterical note he wrote to a Lord Pembroke in 1943:

My Dear Reggie,

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr
H.M. Ambassador

(Portrait of Archibald Kerr, courtesy of Flickr. Flickr? I hardly know her. Eh, Archie? Or does it take a Clerk to do that?)

Carol Reid

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ryhme* (for Rhyme*)

When cataloguing a rhyming book
Don’t forget to take a second look
Check your H and check your Y
In case they’ve swapped on the sly
For if you’ve let your fingers slip
A typo will hold you in its grip

To catch even more, truncate the word
For a second error and a third
Ryhm* will find you “Ryhming verse”
And “Ryhming stories” with letters reversed
Use an asterisk or other wild card
To search your database and keep on guard.

(Cow jumping over the moon image from
Leanne Olson

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Playwrite (for Playwright)

Playwrite is an easy error to make, since the craft of a playwright does involve writing. However, the term actually includes the word wright, “a worker skilled in the manufacture…usually used in combination: shipwright, wheelwright” (

One of my own playwrighting teachers explained it as meaning “someone who crafts a play.” He spoke of structuring a play like a house—the twists of the plot like hallways, the layering of scenes like bricks, with the theme as the foundation.

Playwriting and playwrighting, however, are both acceptable, though I find playwriting to be more prevalent. This means that to catch errors in the catalogue, we must search for the exact term “playwrite” rather than truncating the word at “playwrit*”. “Playwrite*” will also work, and will catch any instances of “playwrites”.

Pictured above is the Greek tragedian Euripides, one of my favourite playwrights.

(image from Britannica Online)
Leanne Olson

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wildnerness (for Wilderness)

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

- from The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service

The Canadian wilderness is often depicted in my country’s art, both written and visual. Robert Service was known for his narrative poetry about the wilderness of the Yukon, and The Cremation of Sam McGee, set during the gold rush, is a prime example of his work, with its vivid imagery, quick-paced meter, and surprise ending.

The Group of Seven, Canadian painters inspired by Post-Impressionism and the work of Tom Thompson, painted images of the wilderness all across Canada. Pictured is A.J. Casson’s White Pine.

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mythlogy (for Mythology)

Mythlogy, a low probability typo for mythology, makes me wonder…just as we have patron saints for special occupations and crafts, is there a mythological figure in charge of typos?

In Christianity, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Jerome, or St. Lawrence of Rome might do—they are all patron saints of libraries and librarians. In Hindu mythology, the god Ganesha is a scribe, and in Judaism, the angel Metatron is God’s scribe, recording the good and bad deeds of Israel in his book.

The Egyptian god Anubis measured good deeds in another way, determining the soul’s worth by weighing it. If it was lighter than a feather, he would send the soul to Osiris for the afterlife; if it was heavy, Anubis would send the soul to the demon Ammit to be destroyed. With human souls hanging in the balance, I have to hope that the gods are infallibly accurate scribes.

Leanne Olson

Monday, September 7, 2009

Elizabth* (for Elizabeth*)

September 7th is the anniversary of the birth (in 1533) of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Also known as the Virgin Queen, due to her refusal to take a husband, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth I ruled over England during a period that became known as the Elizabethan Age.

Elizabeth I had an almost cult-like following, with painters and poets depicting her as a variety of ancient mythological figures, including Diana (the virgin goddess of the moon), Astraea (goddess of jutice), and Gloriana (queen of the fairies).

She used her appearance as a political tool, displaying wealth and confidence through elaborate dresses and jewellery, as seen on the painting pictured here, attributed to George Gower. Elizabeth created her royal image with strict attention to detail and likely would not have made so galling an error as Elizabth*, a typo for both Elizabeth and Elizabethan.

(image from Britannica Online Encyclopedia)
Leanne Olson

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ilinois*, Illinio*, Illinoios*, Illinos* (for Illinois)

Chicago and Illinois have been in the press a lot this year, between our difficulties with Gov. Blagojevich (be careful with his name, too) and Chicago vying for the 2016 Olympics. An earlier post discussed errors related to the city name, but there are also a number of mistakes related to the name of the state that you should avoid and remove. It's easy to miss one of the "L"s (especially next to that capital I!), or add an extra one and both "io" and "oi" look like possibilities. They have varying levels of probability in the Ballard database, from B to E. Given how many options there are for misspelling, I recommend taking one last look before you save.

Image of our disgraced governor in better days from Wikimedia Commons.

Liz Perlman Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Isreal* (for Israel*)

Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. It has been a real country for 60 years, and people like to prove it with their spelling of its name. This error occurs 81 times in OhioLINK, and appears on the B probability section of the errors list. This seems to be a case where we type a word we're used to (real) in the middle of a word.

Image of David Ben-Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Liz Perlman Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Americ (for America)

America the beautiful, America the lazy. Today's typo will show up when we just don't have the energy to type that last "a." There are other variations on America in the Ballard database, but this one hasn't quite made it, although it shows up in OhioLINK 69 times and in WorldCat many more. One caveat: There are at least a few books where this typo will show up because of the way it has to be entered in a MARC record, for instance Americ*n handbook, which displays as Americ[star]n handbook.

Today's image from Wikimedia Commons reminds us that America includes far more than our United States.

Liz Perlman Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Septebmer, Septembeer, Septmber, Septmember (for September)

Happy September!

September is known for being when school starts, and since it is the month with the longest name, we must school ourselves not to forget any letters, or get carried away and add them. Today's typo lists a number of varieties on the name of the month, each of which only has a few entries in OhioLINK.

Today's image from Wikimedia Commons shows the Little Red Schoolhouse in Brunswick, NY.

Liz Perlman Bodian
Chicago Public Library