Friday, December 31, 2010

Beginnn* (for Beginning, etc.)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells” is often paraphrased on this day when the old year is ending and a new one just beginning. And so we will ring out 2010 with the moderate-probability typo Beginnn* and look forward to a whole new selection when we return next year.

(New Year’s Eve fireworks in Paris, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thrid (for Third)

Last week’s snowy weather caused untold travel woes throughout much of Europe and frayed the nerves of weary holiday hordes. One young Minneapolis resident, clearly out of patience after being stranded at London’s Heathrow Airport, was heard to exclaim “It's pathetic—you would think this is a Third World country." Ah, memory is short! Should any American be casting stones at another country’s weather preparedness measures after our own disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina just five years ago?

However, if you eliminate the moderate-probability typo Thrid from your catalog, you may forget all about it with a clear conscience.

(Heathrow’s international arrivals hall, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Leagal (for Legal)

Score one for common sense! Recently, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled against a neuroradiologist who sued his golfing buddy after being partially blinded by an errant ball. The plaintiff maintained his companion should have shouted the traditional “Fore!” to warn him, but in a ruling similar to that from a 2007 California legal case, the New York court rejected the plaintiff’s claim. It declared the defendant was not responsible because 1) the victim was never in the intended path of the ball, and 2) the plaintiff assumed the risk of possible injury when he decided to play golf in the first place.

Leagal is billed as a low-probability error, but right now there are 9 English-language results in OhioLink and one additional hit for an English-language note. Correcting such typos in your own catalog would be the right thing to do, but at least no one will sue you for negligence if you don’t.

(Golf ball, by Lotus Head, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Conudrum* (for Conundrum, etc.)

According to, conundrum is number six on its list of the “Top 10 Most Frequently Searched Words.” This list has no trendy, current events lingo, but rather features “the eternally vexing words that remain among the most looked up over time.” Today’s typo keeps company with such words as “pretentious,” “cynical,” and “albeit.”

Fortunately, the lowest-probability Conudrum* retrieves only one hit in OhioLink, so your own catalog shouldn’t pose any difficulties. Unless, of course, that title is The Modern Sphinx: a Collection of Enigmas, Charades, Rebuses, Double Acrostics, Triple Acrostics, Anagrams, Logogriphs, Metagrams, Square Words, Verbal Puzzles, Conundrums, Etc. Original and Selected, and you can’t resist checking it out.

(Oedipus Explains the Riddle of the Sphinx (Oedipus and the Sphinx), by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tradtion* (for Tradition, Traditional, etc.)

There are probably almost as many holiday traditions as there are folks to observe them. Traditional food, traditional music, and traditional rituals prescribing how, when, and where to celebrate. Whatever yours might be, here’s hoping that the holiday season is above all a safe and enjoyable one.

Tradtion* is a typo of high probability on the Ballard list. Presently, there are 26 English-language instances of it in the OhioLink database, but I doubt many of us will start a new tradition of catalog cleaning this week!

(Christmas cookies, by Gillian, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, December 24, 2010

Locatin* (for Location*)

December 24th, 1955, was the first night of a Christmas tradition: when NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) began to track the air travel of Santa Claus and his reindeer.

The story is particularly germane to this blog because it began with a simple typo: an incorrect phone number in a Colorado Springs newspaper inviting kids to call and say hi to Santa. Instead, the children reached the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center (NORAD’s predecessor). Quick-thinking Colonel Harry Shoup instructed his team members to respond to the calls by locating Santa on their radar and reporting the location to the thrilled children. And so a tradition began.

Now, each year kids can track Santa’s whereabouts in seven languages by email or phone, on NORAD’s website ( or through various social networking sites including Facebook, and Twitter.

(Photo of Col. Pierre Ruel and Gen. Christian Barabé checking the radar screen in preparation for tracking Santa Claus from Wikimedia Commons.)

Leanne Olson

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Associact* (for Associat*)

According to Reader's Digest, "Jingle Bells" was actually not intended as a Christmas carol. If you listen to the words, there is no reference to the holiday or timing other than a mention of "dashing through the snow."

James Pierpont wrote the song for a Thanksgiving program at his church in Boston in 1857. He originally called it "The One-Horse Open Sleigh." The young performers and the audience members enjoyed the song so much that it was repeated at Christmas, and thus began its present association (not associaction) with the holiday.

You can see scans of the original version of the song online at the Library of Congress.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Leanne Olson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Herione* (for Heroine*)

When I saw herione* my brain jumped straight to Hermione Granger, the heroine from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Or, perhaps, Hermione from Greek mythology, the daughter of Menelaus and Helen of Troy. The Greek Hermione's name is also spelled Ermione, which at first looks like an error without the H, in Gioachino Rossini's opera Ermione.

Herione* is, however, more likely a typo for heroine*, which is how it's used in the majority of its 56 hits in WorldCat.

(Photo of Emma Watson as Hermione Granger from Emma Watson online.)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newsaper* (for Newspaper*)

The first thing I turn to in the newspaper (not newsaper) is the crossword puzzle. It’s hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago, papers didn't include crosswords at all.

On this day (December 21) in 1913, the first English language crossword puzzle was published, in the New York World. You can actually see the puzzle on the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament’s website (scroll down).

There are many different styles of crossword puzzles out there, with the North American (pictured above), British, and Japanese puzzles all appearing fairly similar, though varying on the number of black squares and arrangement of the latticework.

I find the Swedish-style crossword to be the most interesting, as it contains clues within the squares, and no black squares at all. An example can be seen below, or larger on Wikipedia.

(Top image from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.)

Leanne Olson

Monday, December 20, 2010

Precipt* (for Precipit*)

I’m posting this from Southwestern Ontario under several feet of snow. Our “Snowmaggedon” (as it’s been dubbed) may break records in London, Ontario. We’re currently at 122.2 centimetres of snow, and the previous record for snow falling in December was 134.1 back in 1977.

On the bright side, while the snow was falling I had a lovely break to type up a few blog entries from home, as the university and entire city was shut down.

If you’ve been out shoveling this frosty precipitation, it’s not hard for your cold (and tired!) fingers to miss a few keys, so watch out for precipt*, a low probability typo for precipit*. Precipation also appeared on the previous Library Typos blog, back in February of 2007, so keep an eye out for that error as well.

(Photo of the University of Western Ontario from Jim Walewander's Flickr photostream.)

Leanne Olson

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mattt* (for Matt*)

Don't have a cow, man, but Matt Groening's baby, The Simpsons, turns 21 years old today! Instead of trying to blow out 21 trick candles—remember the episode where Homer is unable to blow out the (regular) candles on his cake and falls asleep exhausted, setting his party hat, and subsequently the rest of the house, on fire?—you might want to celebrate the occasion by listening to Luke Ski's parody tribute song "88 Lines About 44 Simpsons." There were 15 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, which is rather fitting because the Simpsons are from Ohio ... or Oregon ... or Illinois ... or any one of 68 other places in the United States called Springfield. So happy birthday to all and to all a good Matt!

(Matt Groening, February 24, 2005, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cenus (for Census)

You think it's hard counting all the people in the census every ten years? Try counting all the stars in the sky! Taurus is bullish and those born under this sign make very good accountants. Centaurs are half human and half horse. Centaurus was one of the first 48 constellations listed by 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy. Cenus (for census) was counted 12 times in the OhioLINK database today.

(Centaurus constellation, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons. Click pic for animation.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Higlight*, Hightlight* (for Highlight*)

A lot of people think they know who or what God is (light, love, knowledge, compassion, energy, infinity, an old guy sitting on a cloud, the "Fat Lady" in Franny and Zooey, Joan Osborne's "One of Us," and on and on), but leave it to a physicist to actually discover something called the "God particle" (otherwise known as the Higgs boson). Particle physics has a long history, in fact, and if you're interested in learning more about it, the 1993 book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? certainly covers the highlights and might be a good place to start. We discovered six instances of Higlight* in OhioLINK, and two of Hightlight*.

(Peter Higgs, Mathematisches Institut Oberwolfach, 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vietman* (for Vietnam*)

Our governor and various powers that be may find it necessary to destroy the State Library in order to save it; among other cutbacks, a dozen or so employees will be getting the sack on the night before Christmas, or shortly thereafter. The library (which hasn't been able to buy books in close to three years and whose funds have been routinely raided by other state agencies) is taking a disproportionate hit compared with the rest of the Education Department. In recognition of the fact that real people will be suffering from these draconian budget cuts, coworkers are holding a "Sad Layoff Luncheon" next week at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Man, it seems like such a paltry gesture in the face of this harsh and dysfunctional reality, but it's one way of honoring our library veterans and wishing them well. There were 23 cases of Vietman* (for Vietnam*) in the OhioLINK database today.

(A Vietnamese woman with groceries in a basket, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chrismas (for Christmas)

According to AustenProse, one of the most outstanding illustrators of Jane Austen's oeuvre was a young woman named Christiana Hammond. Like Austen a century before her, "Chris" Hammond never married and tragically died quite young. She was, however, well educated and classically trained. An artist of considerable renown (she illustrated Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Emma, along with assorted works by Thackery, Mrs. Gaskell, George Elliot, Oliver Goldsmith, and Maria Edgeworth), she went by a shortened form of her Christian name in order to maximize her chances for success in a Victorian man's world. We found 24 cases of Chrismas (for Christmas) in OhioLINK, only a handful of which look like they might be personal names or antiquated variants.

("Christmas Weather" by Chris Hammond, from Emma, 1898, courtesy of Indiana University's Lilly Library and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 10, 2010

Siplif* (for Simplif*)

Y scream, U scream, we all scream for Ys cream? Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey (who was otherwise known as Melvil Dewey—or, better yet, Dui) was born on this day in 1851. And if he were still with us today, he'd probably be calling for the traditional birthday fare, even while insisting that it be spelled "cak and ys cream." Librarians are taught to pay particular attention to the way words are spelled, but if we'd had Melvil Dewey as a teacher (he was head librarian at Columbia University where he established the nation's first library school; director of the New York State Library and founder of the New York Library Association; and secretary and executive officer of the New York State Education Dept.), he'd be actively encouraging us to misspell virtually every word we could. However, there was clearly a method to Melvil's madness. Dewey was a big fan of simplification and standardization and promoted the adoption of both the metric system and a form of phonics known as simplified spelling (along with other such notables as Andrew Carnegie, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Bernard Shaw). While this idea never quite caught on the way these guys had hoped it would, an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out that they might nevertheless have been heartened by the popularity of tweeting and text messaging a hundred years later. Dewey was also the founder of the Lake Placid Club, where many adventurous teachers and librarians celebrated their birthdays and other happy occasions. A menu from September 1927 features the following dishes: "Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream." There were only two instances of our typo du jour in the OhioLINK catalog; coincidentally enough, both had to do with spelling reform, yet were clearly unintentional: "In Mandarin with siplified Chinese subtitles" and "Siplified Spelling Society."

(Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index catalog card, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Inpress* (for Impress*)

Alfred Sisley was one of the lesser known Impressionist painters of the 19th century. Despite the fact that he is sometimes damned with faint praise by critics who regard his style as having "almost a generic character, an impersonal textbook idea of a perfect Impressionist painting" (in the words of art historian Robert Rosenblum), Sisley did occasionally deviate from form, at least a little bit. I especially like the picture entitled Flussufer (Riverside), which I think would look great in a children's book. (And that's not damning with faint praise.) We found a dozen examples of Inpress* (for impress*) buried deep within the OhioLINK database on this cold wintry morning (approximately half of which were foreign words of uncertain spelling).

(Garden in Louveciennes in the Snow, Alfred Sisley, 1874, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pess (for Press)

The word press has many meanings, most of which are fairly pleasing: printing press, wine press, cheese press, coffee press, bench press, cider press, alternative press, etc. Take care when typing the domain name for, however. If you write wordpess by mistake, you'll be unceremoniously rerouted to a tricky and annoying "ad/link page." (Just one more reason to try and avoid making typos.) Perhaps the most pessimistic use of the word can be found with regard to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, where the only male "witch" (Giles Corey) was subjected to a slow torturous death by "pressing" (a form of what's known in French as peine forte et dure). The female "witches" were all drowned. But let's press on to happier thoughts. There are 47 examples of Pess in OhioLINK, most of which seem to be typos for Press. If any of these are oppressing your own database, just put the cursor after the P and press R.

(Engraving of printer using the early Gutenberg letter press during the 15th century, artist unknown, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wefare (for Welfare)

A great many Americans are out of work right now (around a dozen employees or so were recently laid off at my own library) and things aren't looking to get better any time soon. President Obama just made a deal with the Devil (or rather, the Republican Congress) in which he agreed to permanent tax breaks for the rich in exchange for temporary jobless benefits for the poor. It isn't fair, but there may come a time when We (the people) will all be on welfare. Actually, there are several kinds of "welfare," according to Wikipedia, including Corporate welfare and the title of a 1975 documentary by Frederick Wiseman. We documented eight cases of Wefare (for welfare) in OhioLINK this morning.

(An evening with Frederick Wiseman, 13 June 2005, by Charles Haynes, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 6, 2010

Warefare (for Warfare)

Wares are things that get sold to people and so, in many cases, are wars. Furthermore, those who get sold this bellicose bill of goods often end up suffering from a serious case of buyer's remorse. Soldiers, in particular, pay a very high price. According to the HBO documentary Wartorn: 1861–2010, the price of warfare on the combatants themselves was usually termed "hysteria," "melancholia," or "insanity" during the Civil War, "shell-shock" during World War I, and "battle fatigue" during World War II. Today it's referred to as "PTSD" (post-traumatic stress disorder). There were 14 examples of today's typo in the OhioLINK database this morning. Warefare... What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

(Soldier boiling his rations, National Geographic Magazine, 1917, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 3, 2010

Litarary, Litarature (for Literary, Literature)

Many movie actors and directors are subjects of print biographies, both authorized and unauthorized, and some of them even highly regarded autobiographies, but very few can lay claim to having been the catalyst for a classic work of literature. Charlie Chaplin married Lita Grey in 1924, when Grey was only 16 years old and pregnant. The marriage was at once a tiresome domestic drama and a tawdry affair. It also came dangerously close to becoming a criminal matter. Chaplin went on to play the role of bridegroom three more times and Lita (who had twenty years on him) tied the knot thrice more herself. She wrote two autobiographies, the first one mainly comprising "exaggeration and fabrication" (allegedly on the part of her co-author, Morton Cooper) and the second one (published in 1998, three years after her death) apparently more truthful. Her marriage to Chaplin is considered by his biographer, Joyce Milton, to have been the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's literary masterpiece Lolita, published in 1955. We found three cases of Litarary in the OhioLINK database today, and four of Litarature.

(Publicity photo of Lita Grey in 1925, from Famous Film Folk, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Midddle* (for Middle*)

Once upon a summer vacation, I read aloud portions of a book called Crazy English by Richard Lederer, which we had found up at camp, to my young niece and nephew. They were too little to understand it, really, but they loved repeating the title and seemed to get the general idea: English is crazy! Sarah Palin probably had a similar reaction when informed that, despite the fact that repute, refute, and repudiate all exist, "refudiate" does not. According to Anu Garg's A.Word.A.Day yesterday, tmesis is defined as: "stuffing a word into the middle of another word." While Palin's "refudiate" and Bush's equally infamous "misunderestimate" are not true examples of tmesis, they do come fairly close. Related forms of wordplay include Pig Latin and Ubbi Dubbi. But tmesis, actually, is a-whole-nother matter. Certain cases also resemble what's known as a minced oath. While retaining the swear word in question, the main word is literally chopped up in such a way that the resulting expression is at once both softened and reinforced: re-flipping-diculous, abso-bloody-lutely, guaran-damn-teed, etc. (See also Ned Flanders's pious patois: "Hi-diddly-ho, neighbor!") When I mentioned this to a friend this morning, he exclaimed: "Oh, it's like turducken!" "Well, no," I said, "the word turducken isn't exactly..." "Not the word," he replied. "The thing itself." Today's typo has an extra letter stuffed into the middle of it, and turns up seven times in OhioLINK. (If you leave off the E, you'll get eight.)

(Screenshot of the TV sitcom The Middle, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Footware (for Footwear)

"These boots are made for walking," sang Nancy Sinatra, "and that's just what they'll do. One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you." Some shoes are made for walking, while others seem made only for wearing, their main function being either to decorate or titillate, often arousing envy, amazement, or lust in the viewer. All manner of footwear are currently on display at the Albany Institute of History and Art: the kind that you wear, plus the kind created solely as objets d'art. Our typo for the day is Footware, which has left its muddy prints in OhioLINK at least seven times. Wear/ware words often get misspelled in this way, so you might want to also try some others on for size: Hardwear and Softwear will probably get you the most hits, but you may find some errors in the Sportsware, Eyeware, Flatwear, Neckware, &c. departments to boot. (Complete lists of such words here and here.) Beware of puns and wordplay, though, as this form of typo/misprint lends itself rather easily to such things. For example, Hardwear: Jewelry from a Toolbox (I love that title!) and HardWear: The Art of Prevention (about condoms in art and advertising). I'm not sure what's meant by the title Transylvanian Softwear, but the spelling appears to be intentional or, in any case, written like that on the work itself. Put your foot down today and make sure this typo gets fixed wear-ever it should.

("Baby Opera: Walks of Life" by Judy Haberl, from the The Perfect Fit exhibit at AIHA, photo by blogger.)

Carol Reid