Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mirofilms (for Microfilms)

There are 19 records in OhioLink that contain the typo Mirofilms, which puts it in the “high probability” section of the Ballard list. All 19 of the microfilm reels were published by University Microfilms, based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to LC, “in 1971 University Microfilms changed its name to Xerox University Microfilms and, in 1976, to University Microfilms International.” UMI is now an imprint of ProQuest.

(Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird) by Spanish Surrealist Joan Miró. Located in Barcelona.)

Janelle Fore

Monday, March 30, 2009

Irresistab* (for Irresistible, etc.)

This typo "is a powerful force; you're obliged to conform when there's no other course." There are 51 examples of Irresistab* in OhioLINK, making it "high probability" on the Ballard list. No wonder, since the suffix -ible is a variation of -able. Make over your library catalog from just plain "able" to "access-ible" by addressing this typo. Information seekers will surely find it "simply irresistible."

(Robert Palmer from allmusic.com.)

Janelle Fore

Friday, March 27, 2009

jutice for justice

This typo occurs 5 time in OhioLINK, though these typos may occur in your catalog:


"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Julene Jones

Thursday, March 26, 2009

sitution for situation

Though the typo "sitution" only occurs twice in Ohiolink, other possible typos for "situation" include situatin, situaition, and situtaion.

Perhaps this is why the term "sitrep" has come into more popularity. Not only is it easier to say, it is also easier to spell: The actors on the CBS show "The Unit" (shown below) use the phrase constantly!

Image from cbs.com

Julene Jones

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

excape for escape

Though the 1980's TV action hero MacGyver was able to escape from many tricky situations using paperclips and duct tape, your catalog may have not been able to avoid these problematic typos for "escape":


The first typo has 11 occurrences in OhioLINK, the remaining have none.

Image from Google Images

Julene Jones

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

deliva* for delivery

Deliveries are common to libraries, though delivries, delliveries and delivaries should not be. Catch these using delivr*, delliver*, and deliva* respectively. However, you may want to limit your search returns to English only so as to not retrieve the French, "délivré."

Image from: http://www.sprout.net.au/ found by searching Google Images.

Julene Jones

Monday, March 23, 2009

hapen* (for happen, happened, happening, etc)

Perhaps you noticed the 2008 New York Times article attempting to flowchart the evolution of geeks. What occurs if you're exposed to Dungeons and Dragons "early in life"? Check the chart to see what happens (hapen*, happp* and happend* are possible variants).

hapen? is found twice in OhioLINK and happp? occurs 4 times.
Julene Jones

Friday, March 20, 2009

Aricle* (for Article*)

Many people look at their horoscope, and the practice of astrology in general, as an oracle that tells them what to do or what to expect of themselves and others. Some folks might call such followers sheep and insist that they're having the wool pulled over their eyes, but to that I would say, "Baaa, humbug." Aries is the first sign in the Western zodiac and describes those individuals born between March 21 and April 19. Aricle* (for article*) is found six times in OhioLINK and Artcle* twice. Not to ram it down your throat or anything, but you might want to take this as a sign to check for these typos in your own catalog.

(Image of Aries the Ram, reworked from an old astrology chart, found at Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Neice* (for Niece*)

My exceedingly nice niece is an excellent writer and very good speller and necessitates precious little advice from me. However, she recently slipped up and signed off a letter with the nicety: "Your loving neice." In spite of the not-infallible* rhyming rule "I Before E Except After C," I must admit I've made this mistake myself, and so, it seems, have at least a dozen other catalogers. There are 18 instances of Neice* in OhioLINK, but six of them refer to proper names, i.e. (so to speak), five surnames and one given name.

* See the first word of our painting's title and this discussion and list of English-language exceptions to the rule.

(l'Ancien Port de Nice by Isidore Dagnan, 1794-1873, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lewis Carrol, Lewis Caroll (for Lewis Carroll)

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll wrote "Jabberwocky" on a lark, purportedly as a parody of bad poetry. It's now regarded as the greatest "nonsense poem" in the English language. "Jabberwocky" was published in 1871 in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, although the first verse was originally printed in Mischmasch, a magazine the young Charles Dodgson (Carroll's given name) had put out for the entertainment of his family. Carroll provided definitions for some of the words that appear in the poem; about others he claimed ignorance. A few of his inventions are "portmanteau words" and have since entered the lexicon ("chortle" is a combination of chuckle and snort; "galumphing" an amalgam of galloping and triumphant). Scholars have had a field day with "Jabberwocky," about which Alice herself remarked: "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!" Though the words in "Jabberwocky" may be hard to spell, our typo today is for the author himself. Lewis Carrol comes "whiffling through the tulgey wood" (i.e., OhioLINK) nine times, and Lewis Caroll twice.

(Portrait of Carroll by Victorian art photographer Oskar Gustav Rejlander, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Partick, Patick (for Patrick)

Today is St. Patrick's Day and 'tis sure to turn up a few patsies crying in their beer, without any green. (Partying like it's 2009.) We also just passed the Ides of March and are fast approaching April Showers and Tax Day. Who knows, perhaps you'll get lucky and stumble upon a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Symbolizing good fortune, today's graphic is the "four-leaf clover," that rare configuration of Trifolium or "shamrock"—the trademark of Ireland itself. The green-wearin' Girl Scouts of America (resembling nothing so much as the "wee folk" of Celtic legend—elves, leprechauns, and brownies) have adopted the "trefoil" as their own symbol. In 2007, we blogged the typo Partrick for Patrick, but have since found a couple of other variants in OhioLINK: Partick with 22 hits and Patick with seven. Here's hoping the next fiscal year finds you in the clover, which is to say "living a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity." (But, if not, remember the "luck of the Irish" and stock up on potatoes.)

(Scan of a four-leaf clover at 600 dpi "for an international digital herbarium," from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 16, 2009

Compliment* (for Complement*) and occasionally vice versa

Complimentary medicine is a common spelling error for complementary medicine and a keyword search in OhioLINK gets 11 hits (ten typos and one case where the two words are correctly spelled and unrelated in the text). Searching on Compliment* + Complement* finds 33 records (one with an [i.e.], several where the former, not the latter, was intended, and another too ambiguous to be sure of either way). A number of these are for The Academy of Complements, published in the 17th century. But it all puts me in mind of an old family story in which my great-grandmother, who prided herself on the correct use of English, once greeted the doctor during a house call with the query: "Aren't I good-looking?" She had obviously meant to say, "Aren't I looking good?" but there was apparently nothing in the doctor's little black bag to cure her resulting chagrin. Still, I can't help wondering whether medicine perhaps should be a bit more complimentary. In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry decides that "God bless you" is a silly thing to say after a sneeze and that "You're so good-looking!" would be preferable. I'm with him and feeling much better already, thanks.

(Julie Christie, in my good-looking mother's favorite movie, Doctor Zhivago, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cementery (for Cemetery)

“I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: ''Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.'' I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have.” This was said by Harry S. Truman. We try to maintain a level of factuality on these pages, and that caused us to check the provenance of this information. This was done because we have been to Tombstone a number of times and never seen such an epitaph. It turns out that Truman really said this, but no tombstone can be found with that inscription at Boot Hill. Cementery is in the E list of Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it brought up only 1 hit in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. This probability is reinforced by checking WorldCat, where 52 hits for cementery were found this morning. Once again, the counts in Google seemed perplexing. If you search for "Cemetery," "Cementery," "Cementary," or "Cemetary" you always get roughly 40,000,000 hits. Since nobody has two lifetimes to spare checking these numbers, we'll have to take Google's word for it, but something here doesn't add up.

Today's photo shows a cemetery on Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland, where the occupants have a spectacular view of Dingle Bay. The original can be seen at www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/35840347
With that, we wish you a happy Friday the 13th and a pleasant St. Patrick's Day next week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mediaval (for Medieval)

"He who is born in imagination discovers the latent forces of Nature. . . . Besides the stars that are established, there is yet another -- Imagination -- that begets a new star and a new heaven." This was spoken by the medieval alchemist Paracelsus. Medieval is likely one of the most butchered words in the English language. Searching Google for "Midevil" brings in more than 90 million hits, although some of those are surely deliberate. Today's word Mediaval brings to mind an image of journalism in the middle ages - that would have been the town crier. It brings in a mere 5 million records in Google. OhioLINK is much more rigorous, so only 3 of these made it to their catalog. That qualifies for the 'D' or, low probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases.

Today's picture shows the spectacular walls of the medieval city of York in England. We were there at the height of spring in 1975. The original can be found at www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/77741958

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Newyork (for New York)

"It is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal. Its politics are used to frighten children. Its traffic is madness. Its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it-once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no other place is good enough." This was written by John Steinbeck. A hundred years before that, a young Samuel Clemens, traveling as a journeyman typesetter wrote his sister: "I have taken a liking to the abominable place." In every movie I've ever seen located on the streets of Manhattan, you can't go 10 seconds without hearing sirens from ambulances and fire trucks. As I write this from my 7th floor office on Worth Street, I can testify that this is something that is only true in movies. I could go on, but I do need to get down to business here. It's not hard to see how this typo occurred. Someone was in such a hurry that they neglected to add a space. This is found in the B, or high probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases. This morning, there were nearly 50 hits for newyork in OhioLINK. There is a good chance that newyork is in your catalog even if your library is in Nevada.

Today's photo shows a new building being constructed at Leonard and West Broadway in Tribeca. Later this spring, it will house the library where I work. It is the first stop in a blogging and geotagging project that I've begun to photograph every block in Manhattan and add each shot to Google Earth. At my age, it's a race against the clock. The original can be found at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Istory (for History)

"History is the present. That's why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth," says E.L. Doctorow. The author of Ragtime has had his share of fun with history over the years. The typo Istory was, at first, a bit of a mystery. The great majority of typos here have their problems at the end of a long word, making them extra hard for proofreaders to spot them. The answer came when we looked at the six records in OhioLink that contain istory. It turns out that the typo was generated by an extra space between the 'H' and the 'I.' Istory is found on the 'D' list at Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it was present in at least two but no more than seven records. There are more than 300 of these in WorldCat, so the true probability is somewhat greater than our listing would suggest.

Today's photo shows Governor's Island in New York Harbor, named "The Island of Nuts" by the Dutch. It was occupied by the British in the Revolutionary War before the Battle of Long Island was fought in Brooklyn. A fort (pictured here) was constructed prior to the War of 1812. The island has seen its share of history. The original image can be found at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/65043749

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ecomonic (for Economic)

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable," according to John Kenneth Galbraith. We see from the news over the weekend that the economy is not the most important story - it is the only story. Some of what we saw reminds us of something we heard coming out of East Texas in the early 1930's. Someone called the theater and asked what time the movie would be playing. The answer was "What time can you get here?" Since the economy seems to have turned on its head, it seems appropriate to start this week with an inversion typo in the word "Economic." The truncated "Ecomon*" is found on the B list of Typographical Errors in Library Databases, now in its new home at www.terryballard.org/typos/typoscomplete.html
. That means that the mistake was found between 16 and 99 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. This morning there were 21 hits for Ecomonic in OhioLINK. Google produced an astonishing 470,000,000 hits for the term. The correctly spelled word only got a few million more hits. Normally, we do not tell Google how to run their business, but something must be wrong here.
Today's image shows a protest in front of a Bank of Ireland branch in Tralee, County Kerry in 2003. The original can be found at http://www.pbase.com/terryballard/image/61085872.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tarrif* (for Tariff)

Right before leaving the White House, Dubya managed to pull off one last-gasp galling gallophobic maneuver. He effectively banned the importation of Roquefort cheese by placing a punishingly high tariff on it in order to get back at the French for spurning our own specialty, hormone-riddled beef. There were 27 cases of Tarrif* exported to OhioLINK, which makes it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. Fortunately, Mr. Obama likes fromage and the French and, unlike Bush, isn't cheesed off at them for being sharper and more sophisticated than we are and not supporting the war in Iraq. The current president even had a domestic cheese named after him back in 2007: the Barick Obama, made by Lazy Lady Farms in Westfield, Vermont.

(Roquefort cheese, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bapist* (for Baptist*)

Fred Phelps is an "independent" Baptist preacher from Topeka, Kansas, best known for his message of abomination and homophobia: God Hates Fags. He and his tight-knit, if loosely wrapped, clan have "protested" at the funerals of people with AIDS, victims of anti-gay violence such as Matthew Shepard, and soldiers who served in Iraq. (He has described such military rites as "pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy.") Phelps denounces Jews, Irish Catholics, Swedes, and pretty much everyone else who doesn't agree with him—which, apart from his family (the ones who aren't accusing him of running a child-abusing cult, anyway), includes pretty much everybody. He and his followers also sing the praises of earthquakes and other natural disasters, tragedies, and accidents, so long as they strike in secular-humanist, tolerant places like Canada and the United States. The Phelps circus is coming to town tomorrow, whereupon it'll be outnumbered by masses of peaceful counter-protestors, both religious and non-religious, or quietly ignored altogether. There are about a dozen occurrences of Bapist* masquerading as Baptist* found in OhioLINK today.

(Fred Phelps in more innocent—in the eyes of God—times, standing in the shadow of his father, Fred Wade Phelps, 1932, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Linclon, Lincon (for Lincoln, etc.)

At last count, there were 12 hits in OhioLINK on the typo Linclon and six on Lincon: four for the president, one a misspelling of LINCOM, and one a proper name I'm honestly not sure about. "Honest Abe" was no con man, but he was a practical joker. There are stories galore about Abraham Lincoln as a child and young man, some very moving and others quite funny. In one, he walks three miles to return a penny—or, according to one source, six pennies. (Question: Who was on the penny before Lincoln?) In another one, he holds a group of barefoot boys upside-down so they can stamp their muddy footprints on his stepmother's ceiling. (She had previously remarked that Abe, at 6' 4", was so tall she feared he'd leave his own up there someday.) Lincoln—who gave what many consider his finest speech, the Second Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1865—was a great wit whose quips and barbs have been collected by historians. "If I were two-faced," he pointed out once, "would I be wearing this one?" And somewhat suggestively: "No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."

Answer: An Indian (although an Eagle flew from 1857 to 1858, and before that there was a parade of Lady Liberty designs, but these predated the "penny" per se)

(Last known portrait of President Lincoln, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cryt*, Chryst* (for Crystal, etc.)

Have you ever seen one of these adorable aberrations pop up in your ice cube tray? They're known as "ice spikes" or "ice-cube stalagmites," although the latter moniker is somewhat misleading since they aren't made by water dripping from above, but rather take place when there is a small crack or hole in the outer layer of ice forming on the cube. As the water expands, it's forced upward through a gradually elongated tube-like structure. Apparently, this is more likely to occur if your freezer is especially cold and if the water has been distilled. I discovered 11 typos in OhioLINK on the search Crytal* and four on Chryst* + Crystal*. Anyway, do try this at home. Ice spikes are very cool.

(Photo from the home collection, circa 2008.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 2, 2009

Oppossum*, Opposum* (for Opossum*)

Do opposites attract? Bradley Kincaid, an early American folksinger, songwriter, and radio personality, once recorded an early mash-up of "Liza Jane" and "Possum up a 'Simmon Tree." (The lyrics in these two songs show up in a variety of forms, in fact. It was a P2P-sharing paradise back then.) In most recorded versions, Liza Jane is firmly opposed to her suitor, and the possum is opposed by a "raccoon on the ground." Kincaid's rendition was easily arranged as the tunes had the same basic melody, but the results were lyrically arresting. "Liza up in the 'simmon tree / Possum on the ground / Possum said, 'You son-of-a-gun / Shake them 'simmons down.'" Perhaps the most wonderfully absurd of all the confounding wordplay abounding here is this description of the singer's beloved: "Her head is like a coffee pot / Her nose is like the spout / Her mouth is like an old fireplace / With the ashes all raked out." OhioLINK shakes down seven cases of Oppossum* and four of Opposum* (making this a low-hanging typo, but a juicy one). Besides the similar sound of the words themselves, it seems that possums and persimmons really do go together: the latter is a favored foodstuff of the former. I hope America's only marsupial knows enough to wait until the fruit is dead ripe, though, or it's gonna be one numb opossum!

* In honor of my dearly departed Uncle George, who taught me about folk music and took me to countless concerts, coffeehouses, hoedowns, and hootenannies. I hope the grass is blue in Heaven and all the folks are festive.

(Photo from Mammals of Australia, by John Gould, 1863, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid