Monday, October 31, 2011

Hatian*, Haitain* (for Haitian*)

I attended a Halloween special at the New York State Museum the other night, part of the perennially popular series known as Cooking the Tree of Life. The topic this time was the food origins of certain "monster myths": vampires (pellagra from corn), zombies (potion of pufferfish, cane toad, and the so-called Zombie Cucumber), and the witches of Salem and elsewhere (ergot on rye). We got to see our Museum scientists dressed up as ax murderers and vampires (the one who emerged from an upright coffin literally hailed from Transylvania!) and partook of some safer samples (a variety of delicious dishes including corn, cucumber, and rye bread) expertly prepared by a chef from the Food Network. Watch what you eat now and don't be spooked by today's typos, which, I hasten to add, are found 12 and four times apiece in OhioLINK, and 103 and 18 times each in WorldCat.

(Zombie Cucumber, also known as Jimson Weed, Hindu Datura, Indian Apple, Sacred Datura, or Thorn Apple, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 28, 2011

Soth America* (for South America)

Today we focus on a topic near and dear to the hearts of many. I am, of course, referring to chocolate! This divine substance comes from the bean of the cacao tree, and in the South American country of Peru, the hunt is underway for new varietals. NPR reported recently that the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has been hot on the trail in the Amazon rainforest there, and in 2008 and 2009, they documented 342 wild specimens. Experts say the flavor of cacao, just like wine, changes with the region where it’s grown. But don’t expect a taste in the near future, because newly cultivated cacao plants are slow to grow and produce beans.

Though less rewarding than the quest for chocolate, finding and correcting typos like Soth America* should help kill a little time while you wait. Enclose the phrase in quotation marks, and OhioLINK will yield 2 entries.

(Theobroma cacao by Luis Ovalles, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bewteen (for Between)

I remember that, in my earliest years of elementary school, I was taught “never walk between parked cars.” But my sister, who is three years younger, has no such recollection. It’s unlikely this important lesson was dropped from the curriculum at our school, so can it be that my memory is simply better? I’d like to think so, but she would probably just claim “I was absent that day.” Such was the title of an entertaining piece that appeared on National Public Radio back in July. Correspondent Linton Weeks reported (in part) on the more than 4,000 responses NPR received after asking Facebook Friends to “tell us about something you were embarrassed to learn as an adult that you should have learned much earlier.”

Bewteen has clearly gained momentum since its entrée to the low-probability section of the Ballard list. There are presently 19 English-language entries for this typo in OhioLINK, so don’t be embarrassed if your catalog has some too.

(Car Park, by heartbeaz, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For the the (for For the)

“Oh, for the love of Mike!” How often have you heard this expression and wondered about its origins? It’s yet another example of a minced oath—the “semi-technical term for a swearword modified so as to be used without giving offence,” as the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language defines it. In this exclamation of surprise or impatience, the word “God” is replaced with the euphemistic “Mike.” Or in some cases, “Pete.”

For the the is a high-probability typo, meaning you should expect to find some examples in your catalog. But depending on how your keyword index is configured, you may have to experiment with search strategy. Even limiting to English, if you submit the plain phrase to OhioLINK, it tops out at 32,000 results. Enclose the string in quotation marks, and you get a more manageable 63. Which could still leave you uttering a few choice oaths (minced or otherwise) of your own.

(Profanity from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warrent (for Warrant)

"Literary warrant” is a term that many librarians—particularly catalogers—will recognize immediately. Basically, it means that subject terminology should derive from existing literature on a given topic, rather than from a preconceived conceptual framework. Literary warrant underpins much of Library of Congress practice today.

What most of us probably don’t know is that the notion of literary warrant came from the writings of E. Wyndham Hulme (1859-1954), a librarian working at the British Patent Office in the early part of this century. (An interesting article about Hulme’s work can be found in the journal Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, v. 5, no. 1, 1984.) The concept of literary warrant was quite forward-thinking for its time, but some librarians maintain it is no longer adequate for our current information environment. Instead, they argue “user warrant” is an equally important basis for subject vocabulary.

Warrent occurs 20 times in OhioLINK , so it’s a lot more prevalent than its low-probability status would suggest. I warrant you’ll want to investigate your own catalog for this typo.

(Library of Congress Subject Headings)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, October 24, 2011

Diversti* (for Diversity)

We’re often told we should celebrate diversity. But while this sentiment nowadays refers to the human condition, consider this: according to the University of Illinois Extension site “Let’s Talk about Insects,” these creatures make up more than half of all living things in the world today. It’s estimated 10 quintillion of them (that’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000) share the planet with us at any one time, and all total, there are more than one million insect species. It makes you wonder how we could possibly measure up!

Fortunately, the typo Diversti* is not nearly so prolific as our six-legged friends. There are only 2 English-language instances in the OhioLINK catalog, making it a low-probability error. Remove that restriction, and you get 2 more hits for “diverstissement,” a misspelling of the French word “divertissement” (meaning entertainment, recreation).

(Bumblebee, by P7r7, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, October 21, 2011

Humilat* (for Humiliat*)

Last night the author Wayne Koestenbaum spoke about his most recent book at the New York State Writers Institute in Albany. I am embarrassed to admit (if not quite humiliated) that I was utterly unfamiliar with Koestenbaum and his work, except for a recent spate of advice columns on Salon. But I was so impressed with his kind and courteous manner, as well as the enthusiasm of the crowd and the great reviews his books have gotten, that I'm looking forward now to reading Humiliation: Big Ideas/Small Books, as well as perhaps The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (1993) and Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon (1995). Among the numerous humiliation anecdotes the author shared with us, my favorite concerned his short tenure as a high school English teacher. One of his charges was widely considered the worst student in the school, but despite the roughness with which he handled the language, he turned out to be the teacher's favorite. One assignment he handed in told of how he had been at the grocery store one day with his mother when she angrily pulled him by the ear. The store owner observed this and out of sympathy for the boy gave him a lemon. Koestenbaum found the story both symbolic and "minimalist" and told his student so. Years later, the young man came upon a mention of his now-published former teacher and wrote him a letter. Much good, it seems, was generated from that single act of humiliation. If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade ... or, better yet, write a short story about it, or a letter to your old English teacher! We exposed 18 cases of Humilat* in OhioLINK (15 of which appeared on older records and could be a variant spelling) and 120 in WorldCat.

(Wayne Koestenbaum, February 21, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ledgend* (for Legend*)

Perhaps I should have led with the story of the sinking library yesterday—rather than sandwiching it in between Bill Maher and Nick Baker—since it seems that there's more to this architectural anecdote than meets the eye. It's a story that really has legs. According to Snopes (the "myth busters" of dubious forwarded mass emails), "That Sinking Feeling" is a persistent urban legend dating back to the 1970s. Many libraries, including those at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Indiana University at Bloomington, Canada's University of Calgary and the U. of Waterloo, even the Vatican, have been subject to this myth. But the one thing they all have in common is the clueless architect who forgot to account for the "weight of the books." It's an interesting fantasy, which Snopes suggests may be a "metaphor for the crushing weight of the knowledge students are expected to absorb." Or you may prefer the "more straightforward interpretation (fellow who is supposed to be so smart forgets something blindingly obvious, thus allowing us lesser souls to experience a moment of self-congratulation)." In either event, as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother would undoubtedly say: "Legen ... wait for it ... dary!" We may feel that our libraries are sinking under the pressure of budgetary cutbacks or technological advances or what have you, but few librarians are currently complaining of too many books. Unlike the online stuff, books possess a weightiness that most of us still enjoy having on our hands. Although, occasionally, some of them have to go. In a parody of this particular urban myth, Barbara Mikkelson once wrote about the opposite situation: a library that began to rise after some of its outdated books were removed from the collection. Here's hoping that books of all sorts do not become the stuff of legend, nor mark the end of libraries. There were five copies of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 45 in WorldCat.

("Modern Book Printing," the fourth of six sculptures in the Berliner Walk of Ideas, unveiled 21 April 2006 at Bebelplatz near Humboldt University, to commemorate Johannes Gutenberg, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Architeture (for Architecture)

Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, the free-speaking HBO host shocked his library-loving fans by flatly asserting (although to me it sounded more like he was kidding, or being sort of ironic): "We have the Internet. We don't need a library anymore." As proof of this, he added: "I don't know anyone who's gone to a library since 1998." This was in response to Penn Jillette's definition of libertarianism: in short, that taxation is a valid means for preventing violence, but not for "building a library." However, even he seemed a bit taken aback by Bill's blanket dismissal, and mentioned how he likes to use the WiFi connection at his own public library while his kids check out the picture books. It reminded me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother, in which Ted tells Robin a cautionary tale about an architect who had designed the perfect library building—except for the fact that it would sink an inch or two deeper into the ground each year. "He forgot to account for the weight of the books," Ted sums up glumly. "Okay, first of all," replies Robin, "nobody goes to libraries anymore, so who cares about that guy?" Which, in turn, put me in mind of a report by Nicholson Baker published in The New Yorker in 2008 (ten years after any of Maher's pals supposedly couldn't have cared less) about the otherwise capacious new San Francisco Public Library, where staff was forced to start wholesale "weeding" upon moving in because adequate shelf space hadn't been factored into the architecture. Like the one in Ted's story, the New Main's architects hadn't "thought of the books." But you definitely should. As for Bill Maher, let's cut him some slack in light of his supportive "New Rule" from 2006: We Don't Need Drug Tests for Librarians. There were five examples of today's typo taking up space in OhioLINK, and 267 in WorldCat.

(Looking down in the atrium of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, August 7, 2009.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictues (for Pictures)

This is our modest pick for Tuesday, a picture of the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), along with the typo Pictues. Mussorgsky is best known for a piano suite called Pictures at an Exhibition, a title that would almost suggest the artist might have had synesthesia. I don't suppose that he actually did, but he did suffer from an acute case of dipsomania. Alcohol was practically de rigueur in the circles the young pianist ran in, but it eventually did him in at an early age. Mussorgsky was considered crude and unpolished by many of his contemporaries, an "idiot" by some and a "genius" by others. But for all of his creativity and originality, Mussorgsky was hobbled by poor technique and inadequate training. Although he had been born into an aristocratic family with a princely lineage, the struggling composer ended up a laid-off civil servant with a drinking problem. His reputation, however, has improved with age. Pictures at an Exhibition was included on two albums (1971 and 2008) by Emerson, Lake & Palmer; and A Night on Bald Mountain appeared in both Fantasia and The Wizard of Oz. We found 21 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 108 in WorldCat.

(Detail from Ilya Repin's celebrated portrait of Mussorgsky, painted 2–5 March 1881, only a few days before the composer's death, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 17, 2011

Short + Shor (for Short)

I'll make this short. (Anyway, I'll give it a shot.) Some of the best things in life are short: shortbread, shortcake, shortcuts, shorthand, short ribs, shortstops, and last, but surely not least, short stories. But short does have its shortcomings. It can be shortsighted or short-tempered. It can prove short-lived, or give short shrift. And then there's the queerly monikered short snorter: "a banknote inscribed by people traveling together on an aircraft." Today's typo was found 17 times in OhioLINK (about half of which were legitimate spellings for different words) and 119 times in WorldCat. You shor 'nuff might find a few in your own catalogs too, so make short work of 'em if you do.

(Actor Martin Short hosting Broadway on Broadway, September 10, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clevelend* (for Cleveland*)

Tomorrow is "Sweetest Day," observed in certain areas of the Northeast and Great Lakes region, though gradually spreading to other parts of the country. Sweetest Day was begun in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922. It's like a rather more amorphous Valentine's Day, with a hint of Halloween, historically manifesting as candy-coated alms for the poor, as well as "the sick, aged and orphaned." Along with, assures Retail Confectioners International, pretty much anyone else whose day you'd like to sweeten. It's also sort of a role reversing day for women, who tend to be the ones giving candy to their husbands and boyfriends, as well as to freely indulging children. It all started with a philanthropist and candy company employee named Herbert Birch Kingston, who "wanted to bring happiness into the lives of orphans, shut-ins and others who were forgotten," according to the website Sweetest Day History and Facts. Some fed-up Clevelanders, however, would like to put an end to this "concocted" celebration, which they scorn as a "Hallmark holiday," despite the fact that it was not originally connected in any way with the greeting-card company. (Hallmark has, however, jumped on the candy bandwagon, as has American Greetings.) Tomorrow, residents of Cleveland will be cleaving over the question of just "how sweet it is." Today's typo occurred six times in OhioLINK, and 55 times in WorldCat.

(Window of the Dalesman Café Tearooms and Sweet Emporium advertising some of the wares on sale, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cornel + Cornell (for Cornell or Cornel)

Today marks the birthday of Poland-born actor/director Cornel Wilde (1912–1989), a man who probably saw both parts of his name misspelled with some regularity throughout his life. In fact, the name by which he became known in Hollywood was a kind of misspelling in and of itself, an Americanized version of the one he had been given at birth, Kornél Lajos Weisz. Having emigrated to America at the age of seven, Wilde soon proved to be replete with natural endowments. According to Wikipedia, he was a "talented linguist and an astute mimic," with "an ear for languages which became apparent later in his acting career." He also won a scholarship to the Physicians and Surgeons College at Columbia University and "qualified for the United States fencing team prior to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, but quit the team just prior to the games in order to take a role in the theater." Wow, sexy, strong, smart, and sensitive! There were nine cases of Cornel + Cornell in OhioLINK (six of which were actual errors) and 110 in WorldCat. Now quit staring at the birthday boy and start looking for this typo.

(Screenshot of Cornel Wilde from the trailer for the film The Greatest Show on Earth, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mathews* + Matthews* (for Matthews* or Mathews*)

Larry Mathews, account executive, part-time actor, and 1976 UCLA graduate, is probably best known as "Ritchie Petrie" from The Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966. In one episode, Larry lent his first name to a large unruly dog, the visiting pet of Buddy Sorrell. A rambunctious "Larry" drove a nervous Ritchie to barricade himself inside a kitchen cabinet, crying: "Don't let him eat me!" "He may not be the smartest boy in class," his beaming folks once confessed, "but he's the cutest." Ritchie's middle name, in an amusing nod to Orson Wells, is "Rosebud" (an acronym for seven of his male relatives). The genuine affection for each other felt by Larry Mathews and his TV parents was plainly apparent on the show. In another episode, a desperate Laura dyes her hair blonde because she thinks her husband has grown bored with her. Later Ritchie asks his dad if "Mommy's hair is gonna be brown again." "It certainly is," says Rob. "That's good!" replies Ritchie. "Oh, you think Mama's prettier with brown hair too?" "No, I think she's prettier with yellow." "You do?" says Rob." "Then why are you so happy about her turning brown again?" "Because I don't want her to look prettier," says Ritchie. "I want her to look like Mommy!" Some people are smart, some are cute, some are blonde, and some brunette. Some people spell their name Mathews, while others spell it Matthews. But everybody, as they say, wants their name spelled right. There were 135 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 1251 in WorldCat. And here are six "little known facts" about The Dick Van Dyke Show.

(Studio shot of Larry Mathews, from the Web.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Robet* + Robert* (for Robert* or Robet*)

Today's typo reminds me of sherbet. By which I don't mean, of course, that people named Robert are like sherbet. (Though you might know a Bob or a Rob who's both fruity and icy, as well as virtually lactose-free. That really wouldn't surprise me.) I just meant that many folks tend to mispronounce sherbet as "sher-bert." Perhaps it has something to do with the way the two syllables rhyme (sort of). Or maybe it's the unconscious association with the word brrr. Some dictionaries have even caved at this point and agreed to allow sherbert as an acceptable or variant spelling. However, please note that acceptable does not mean standard or preferred. But getting back to Robert* + Robet*. There were 56 hits on this one in OhioLINK, and 678 in WorldCat. Although, as with virtually all combined searches of this sort, some of the results do not contain typos, just cases of two different (but correctly spelled) words. In this case, the biggest spoiler is one Robertus Robet. Just ignore him! And place your bet on -bert.

(A glass dessert cup of raspberry sherbet, 1994, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 10, 2011

Imflamm* (for Inflamm*)

This public service model, looking at once both hot and cool, seems to be announcing "I'm flammable" as she fashionably demonstrates fire safety awareness with her shiny white go-go boots and flaming red fire extinguisher. Like a cross between Emma Peel of The Avengers, a cartoon superheroine whose special power is putting out (sorry!), and a beauty pageant contestant about to show us how to kick a fire's ass, her appeal is undeniable. Yesterday kicked off Fire Prevention Week, which was established in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8–10, 1871. Calling the loss of 15,000 lives to fire the previous year "startling," Coolidge stated: "This waste results from the conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented... It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth." There were seven examples of today's typo found in OhioLINK and 74 in WorldCat.

(Sixties-era photo from the State Library's ephemera collection, presumably a production of the New York State Health Dept.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 7, 2011

Licenc* + Licens* (for Licens* or Licenc*)

Once when I was little, I saw the expression "poetic license" and asked my mother what it meant. I think I thought it was some sort of literal license they gave to poets. Her answer, though somewhat vague, turned out to be much more intriguing. She said it meant that you could say whatever you wanted to say, however you wanted to say it. I was too young to know very much yet about democracy and the First Amendment, but as I got older, this concept blended nicely with another one I came to fully embrace: "freedom of speech." The summer before I began library school, I signed up for a seminar in censorship. Though they had to cancel it as only a few students had shown up, the dean treated us to a full three hours of thrilling talk about "banned books" and "intellectual freedom." If I hadn't been quite sure of my new choice of vocation before, that clinched it for me. In the Loudon Wainwright song "Jesse Don't Like It" (from the 1999 album Social Studies), he sings: "In the kindergarten, years ago, Jesse got rude / He took a red Crayola and he drew a nude / The teacher took a ruler to Jesse's behind / She beat his butt, but she ruled his mind..." I love Loudon's use of poetic license—the alliteration and assonance and internal ryhming, the repetition of words and homonyms. And, of course, I love his hilarious taking down of Jesse Helms, that one-time enemy of the arts and, specifically, the NEA. Today's typo garners 161 hits in OhioLINK, not all of which are actually typos. Americans spell license with an S, but the British, Canadian, and Australian spelling uses a C. If you do a combined search on both spellings, you will surely find some inconsistencies; however, you'll want to make sure to check the works themselves to determine any errors in transcription or instances where a "sic" or "i.e." is called for.

(Jesse Helms, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Octover (for October)

October's just begun, but it feels like it will soon be over. This is a bittersweet time of year in upstate New York, as we desperately try to soak up the waning warmth of an "Indian Summer" (those few sputteringly summery days scattered here and there, like gifts, amongst the growing cold and damp) and start hunkering down for the long winter. The leaves falling faster and faster from the trees look like the quickly flipping pages of a calendar connoting the rapid passage of time. My favorite color is yellow, which seems to suggest both cheerfulness and agedness. Slavs call October "yellow month" and the official flower of October is calendula. Like the Halloween jack-o'-lantern, these help to brighten the otherwise darkening skies and sometimes gloomy moods associated with this month. There were 11 examples of Octover in OhioLINK today, and 197 in WorldCat.

(Le mois d'octobre, église de Bagnot, France, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insuren* (for Insuran*)

I saw a sign on the way to work this morning that would undoubtedly quicken the pulses of Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, authors of the chronicle The Great Typo Hunt. It was a sort of trifecta of typos, containing errors in spelling, punctuation, and/or syntax. "We accept," it read, "Medicaid, Medicare, Fidelis, CDPHP, SWH, and others insurences." That last bit should be either "other insurance" or, possibly, "others' insurance." But Insurences, while obviously a rather awkward shortening of "insurance policies," still misspells the root word insurance. There was only one case of this disorder detected in the OhioLINK database, but there were 96 found in WorldCat. (Note, however, that Insurent happens to be the name of an apartment lease guaranty company.) Just to be on the safe side today, check up on this typo in your own library's catalog.

(Metropolitan Life Insurance building, New York City, July 2003, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lili* + Lilli* (for Lilli* or Lili*)

I caught the charming 1953 film Lili the other day and was reminded of the way my mother used to steer me toward this darkly romantic tale as a child, along with other works by Paul Gallico like The Snow Goose. Lili was based on a story called "The Man Who Hated People," which had been published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1950. Gallico was widely considered to be a very affecting, even sentimental, writer (Wikipedia states that "a public library puts [The Snow Goose] on a list of 'tearjerkers'"), but he also had his followers among critics of serious literature. Gallico did not eschew the "sentimental" tag, in any case, opining that, when it came to "the contest between sentiment and slime": "Sentiment remains so far out in front, as it always has and always will among ordinary humans, that the calamity-howlers and porn merchants have to increase the decibels of their lamentations, the hideousness of their violence, and the mountainous piles of their filth to keep in the race at all.'" There were 164 hits on today's combined personal-name typo in OhioLINK, the first ten or so clearly being typos. But never say never: the children's poetry book I Never Did That Before is written by Lilian Moore, but illustrated by Lillian Hoban. Leslie Caron sings "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" in the movie under discussion above, which prompts me to point out that this one is a typo of "highest" probability on the Ballard list.

(Cropped screenshot of Leslie Caron from the trailer for the film Lili.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oder* + Odor* (for Odor* or Oder*)

If something stinks in your library catalog, it could be the combination of Odor* + Oder* (the sort of search which often reveals one misspelling or another, but not always, particularly in the case of foreign words). The smelliest thing I've come across lately (in print, anyway) is the oft-praised, southeast Asian durian fruit, which, although being described in olfactory terms as resembling "pig-shit, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock" or if you prefer, "civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray, and used surgical swabs," is reportedly, nevertheless, addictively delicious. You might want to bring along a Tic-Tac, though: "Your breath," says aficionado Anthony Bourdain, "will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother." British novelist Anthony Burgess once wrote that indulging in durian is rather "like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory." Durian is known as the "King of Fruits" due to its hefty size and weight, and people are advised not to stand beneath these trees for danger of getting conked on the head with one. Predictably, it's also considered to have great nutritional and aphrodisiacal powers. We sniffed out eight cases of our odoriferous typo in OhioLINK today, and 148 in WorldCat.

(Flowers of durian, Vietnam, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid