Friday, October 2, 2015

Complainc* (for Compliance)

Are you generally in compliance, or do you prefer to complain about stuff? I suppose that it depends, for most of us, on the importance of what is at issue, as well as the probable results of going either with the flow or against the grain. It's a little hard to tell at first from looking at this painting just what Cupid's complaint to Venus might have been, although one imagines it must've had something to do with love. However, according to Art Daily, and unless it's a love of honey, the message of this piece is a bit more universal: "Cupid complains to Venus that he has been stung by bees. He holds in his hand the honeycomb that has been stolen from them. The Latin verses in the upper right point up the moral message in this picture that life’s brief pleasure is mixed with pain." The realization stings, but it is what it is. So let us neither unduly complain of, nor dully comply with, the uncertain rules of this earthly game, and try to enjoy what's been handed to us, bees and all. (On a somewhat related note, this work of art is reputed to have once belonged to Adolf Hitler, someone who should have inspired many more complaints, and far less compliance.) This typo appears seven times in OhioLINK, and 692 times in WorldCat.

(Cupid Complaining to Venus, circa 1525, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hnad* (for Hand*)

Born on September 30, 1897, into a liberal, middle-class Jewish family in Riesenburg, West Prussia, Charlotte Wolff was initially drawn to the study of philosophy and literature (even publishing some poetry of her own), but after enrolling in college, made the pragmatic decision to go into medicine instead. She received her degree from Humboldt University of Berlin in 1928, and worked for a few years treating prostitutes, dispensing birth control, and directing neonatal services in Germany. But by the early 1930s, she was forced to emigrate to France, and then later to England, where she eventually obtained citizenship in 1947. (Not only was Wolff a Jew, but she had also been accused by the Gestapo of being "a woman dressed as a man, and a spy.") As a German refugee, she was forbidden to practice medicine in France as well, and became a leading, if somewhat eccentric, proponent of chirology, or "hand reading"—an occupation that probably amounts to little more than "fortune telling" in the minds of some, but to others constitutes a valid science, or at least an intriguing area of inquiry. (Current research suggests, for example, that the ratio between ring and index finger length correlates with sexual orientation, among other things.) In any case, Charlotte took her chirological calling seriously, working with juvenile delinquents in England and proving that many of them had certain types of manual abnormalities. (She wrote The Human Hand in 1942, and The Hand in Psychological Diagnosis in 1951.) She also believed that human beings and Capuchin monkeys were descended from a common ancestor in the Americas, due to the similarities in their hands. In the 1960s, Wolff began doing research in the field of sexology and published Love Between Women in 1971. She had long been an open and outspoken activist for gay rights (in 1932, an "Aryan" girlfriend broke up with her for fear of the Nazis), though she refused to consider herself a "professional lesbian." In fact, she rather disliked the words lesbian and homosexual in general. She once said: "Liebe und ein starker Geist kennen kein Alter. Phantasie hat keine Zeit." Which translates to: "Love and a strong spirit know no age. Imagination has no time." She wrote two autobiographies (On the Way to Myself in 1969 and Hindsight in 1980) and in 1977, at the age of eighty, produced Bisexuality: A Study. She also managed to come out with the 500-page Magnus Hirschfeld: A Portrait of a Pioneer in Sexology in 1986, the same year that she passed away at the age of 89. We found a handful of today's typo for hand* in OhioLINK (about ten, mostly for words like handbook or handicapped, and a couple of false positives for the initialism HNAD, a medical condition), along with 251 in WorldCat.

(Charlotte Wolff, image found on the Web.)

Carol Reid

Monday, September 28, 2015

Andrew Sisters (for Andrews Sisters)

One time I asked my German-speaking grandmother what the phrase Bei mir bist du schön meant. ("My dear Mr. Shane?" a witty coworker later guessed.) She wrote it down on a scrap of paper and said: "It means, 'To me you are beautiful.'" (I still have that lovely memento, which I slipped under the glass of a framed photograph of her.) "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" was a Yiddish song written for the 1932 musical I Would if I Could. When the The Andrews Sisters recorded it in 1937, they used the German spelling, not the transliteration, and sang it in more of a swing fashion, adding English lyrics by Sammy Cahn. The totally catchy, non-kvetchy tune ("Bei mir bist du schön means you're grand!") has been covered in such far-flung places as Sweden, Russia, Brazil, and Nazi Germany (until its Jewish roots were found out and it was hastily made verboten). Even the Shasta soft drink company got in on the act with its jingle beginning "Root beer, Mr. Shane." (Shades of my comical colleague, who, come to think of it, has a similar last name himself! It's also been said that folks would sometimes ask for it by the marvelous mondegreen "My Dear Bits of Shame.") Be sure to search for this beauty in quotation marks, though. Without them, you will get a surfeit of false hits. With them, we got 37 in OhioLINK, and 685 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of the Andrews Sisters, 7 April 1952, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cyle* (for Cycle, etc.)

If you ride a motorcycle but are not planning to visit Northwest Arkansas this weekend, then you will really be missing out!  Fayetteville is once again hosting Bikes, Blues & BBQ, an annual event that promoters call the “the largest motorcycle rally in the United States benefiting local charities.”  Last year’s festival drew an estimated 400,000 people, so in addition to the food and fun, the rally will also provide a major economic boost to the region.

It’s still not too late to jump on your Hog and head to the Ozarks for the beautiful weather predicted.  But before you leave, make certain you take care of today’s typo Cyle*,  which can be found 33 times in OhioLINK and 944 times in WorldCat.  Some entries are for proper names and non-English words, so exercise caution.

(Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Custom, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Familliar* (for Familiar, Familiarity, etc.)

We’ve all heard the saying “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, but it apparently does lead to a degree of complacency.  According to a study published by professor Kenneth Savitsky et al. in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, something called the “closeness-communication bias” can get in the way when we interact with close acquaintances.  Namely, we sometimes overestimate how well we communicate with people who are good friends or spouses.  The culprit here is egocentrism.  When we talk with strangers, we tend presume their perspective is different from our own, so we pay more attention to what they say. Whereas with friends, we believe their views are similar to ours, and we therefore rely on our own perspective.

Whether you hold today’s typo Familliar* in contempt or are merely complacent about it, let’s agree to put users’ needs first.  There are 16 English-language entries in the OhioLINK database, and 101 in WorldCat.

(Arnold Lakhovsky’s The Conversation, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, September 18, 2015

Okalh* (for Oklah*)

Schooled! Some blackboards at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City were being replaced recently when the staff was suddenly confronted with a very special history lesson, and a few archival challenges, that nobody was quite prepared for. It turns out the blackboards were concealing considerably older ones, covered with vibrantly colored chalk drawings and old-fashioned handwriting. There was a mystifying multiplication wheel (the "New Math" of its day?) and vocabulary words like blunder, choke, and whoa. A calendar and pictures of pilgrims, turkeys, and sailing ships dated it to Thanksgiving 1917. Workers also found a note from the erstwhile custodian, "R. J. Scott," suggesting that the nearly 100-year-old relic had been purposely left intact and unerased: "We this day give to this room slate blackboards," it solemnly read. One teacher commented: "We don't know if anybody knew about the plan, but now we get to reap the rewards of his plan and get to see this beautiful work of art. That's all I can call it, a work of art. It should be in a museum somewhere." Steps are being taken to safeguard this amazing find (the blackboards were deemed too fragile to move and will most likely remain where they are, under acrylic glass and controlled lighting) and the staff look forward to possibly unearthing more hidden treasure, even if it causes some disruption. "It may mean we have to delay the start of school in these classrooms," said the superintendent, "but we've got to preserve these." We uncovered three cases of Okalh* in OhioLINK, and 97 in WorldCat. Correct any extant in your own catalogs today and start over tomorrow with a clean slate.

(Image from the Oklahoma chalkboard, taken from the Web. Click on pic for a better look.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Descrp* (for Descrip*)

Listen up, class. The following passage, from the 1953 movie The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, is worth taking some time to parse. Dobie Gillis, played by musical actor Bobby Van, has finally registered for his freshman courses at "Grainbelt University," based entirely upon seeing his new crush Pansy (Debbie Reynolds) signing up for them first. The next day they're sitting together in English class when the professor (Hans Conried) stalks in and takes the podium. "My name is Amos Pomfritt," he intones. "The textbook used in this class will be English Usage for College Freshmen, by Amos Pomfritt. When class meets tomorrow, I want everybody to have his copy." He pauses. "You will kindly note that I have said, 'Everybody will have his copy' and not 'Everybody will have their copy.'" Looks meaningly at Dobie: "You, there. What's wrong with saying, 'Everybody will have their copy'?" DG: "Why, nothing. I say it all the time." AP: "My dear young lout, just because you say it, doesn't make it correct!" DG: "Yes, but everybody says it. My family, my friends, everybody I know..." AP, haughtily: "The rules of English usage are made by scholars and learned men, not by college freshmen and other such vulgarians." DG: "Gee, I don't know, sir. I think the way the people use the language is the right way. And if the rule says no, then the rule ought to be changed." AP, almost apoplectic: "In the twenty-five years that I have devoted to this underpaid profession of teaching, I have heard many an asinine outburst. But never one so asinine as yours. I can only assume that your recent passage through puberty has affected your mind. For you, sir, are a presumptuous driveler, a cretinous barbarian, a thick-tongued oaf, and an ill-bred churl. In the future, you will be good enough to keep your mindless opinions to yourself." Dobie to Pansy, sotto voce: "You know, I have a feeling he doesn't like me." The teacher is the grammarian who is also a barbarian here, although Dobie has it only partially correct. I won't describe this zany plot any further, but suffice it to say that these two are not done with the whole prescriptivist-descriptivist debate. There were twenty cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 537 in WorldCat.

(Publicity photo of Hans Conried from the television program The Tony Randall Show, October 1977, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid