Friday, November 28, 2008

Shoppp*, Shoping, Shoper* (for Shop, etc.)

"Shop till you drop" is the rallying cry of many Americans, especially on the day after Thanksgiving, also known as "Black Friday," when retailers hope their customers will put them "in the black." (In fact, the phrase got its start in Philadelphia and was originally a reference to the heavy traffic on that day.) Shoppp* gets three hits in OhioLINK and Shoping and Shoper* get two apiece. Our picture shows a woman from the "black bourgeoisie" inquiring of a shopkeeper: "Have you any flesh-coloured silk stockings, young man?" Wikimedia points out that the "caricature is not really racist in itself—and could even be considered to be subtly anti-racist in pointing out the relative meaning of the term 'flesh-colored'—but much of the humor which white Americans of 1829 would have perceived in it would have arisen from the racist preconceptions which they held." Today is Black Friday at TotDfL. Three typos for the price of one.

("Life in Philadelphia," from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Recipie, Recipies (for Recipe, Recipes)

Next to the bird, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie is probably the dish most suggestive of Thanksgiving. OhioLINK contains a single serving of Recipie and 16 more of Recipies (two with"sic"), making it a moderate to high probability typo. (Don't truncate this turkey or else you'll pick up too many hits for words like recipient. Remember, 'tis better to give than to receive.) My great-aunt used to bake pies all year round and, before passing on, passed her pumpkin pie "secret" on to my sister, who recreated it for the family this year. Her recipe was actually Mamie Eisenhower's, whose trick was to bake the empty pie shell in the oven while cooking the filling in a double boiler. At some point, you add gelatin and fold in some egg whites to firm it up, then pour it into the shell and chill. Lots of people liked Ike and I'm sure that Ike liked the First Lady's recipe for White House Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. Thanks, Mamie!

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holday (for Holiday)

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice," says Dave Barry. Looking at the map that we loaded for this blog, I see that many of our readers are from Western Europe, so I will explain that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. That is one of our most important holidays, so nearly everything is closed except for restaurants and gas stations. In spite of that, my typographical colleague Carol Reid has volunteered to add a blog entry tomorrow while our family is overdoing it with turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. On to the matter at hand. Holday is a bonus word that is not on the list yet. Because it had four hits in OhioLINK, it will find itself on the low probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases.

We live on Long Island, so we could take a train and see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but most years we don't. The last year that we did produced the photograph that has been used today - a shot of a very young man reacting to the giant balloon moving past him. The original can be seen at .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Congresional (for Congressional)

"Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing. Nobody listens - and then everybody disagrees," according to Boris Marshalov. With the final races still being decided, Congress was on our minds this morning. Congresional is on the C, or moderate probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases at , meaning that the error was found between 8 and 15 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. The more telling number is 103 - the count for Congresional in WorldCat. This blog has already dealt with Congesssional, and we suspect that both typos are simply the result of sloppy typing and proofreading.

Today's photo of the Capitol Dome from the area of the National Museum of the American Indian. The original can be seen at

Monday, November 24, 2008

Literaure (for Literature)

"The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read” according to Oscar Wilde. Literaure fits most of the classic patterns of an opac typo in that it has a missing letter at the end of a long, familiar word. However, we find it surprisingly plentiful for a typo that does not look right on even a casual inspection. It is found on the 'B,' or High Probability section of Typographical Errors in Library Databases, meaning that it was present between 16 and 99 times in OhioLINK at the time of its discovery. We found more than 50 when we looked today, but some of those appeared to be connected to legitimate non-English words. There were only 3 cases of Literaure in the catalog of Arizona State University today (My alma mater - Class of 1968 English Major), but one of those was in a subject heading.
Today's image shows Tintern Abbey in Southern Wales - made famous in a poem by Wordsworth.
The original photograph from the 1970's was digitized and then rendered as a painting in Photoshop. The original can be seen at

Friday, November 21, 2008

Everbody* (for Everybody*)

The Eveready Bunny just keeps on going, and I have a feeling that Everbody* (showing up 61 times in OhioLINK) will go on forever as well. So energize yourself and stick a Y in that typo whenever you can. The Energizer Bunny is apparently a "parody" of the Duracell Bunny, which debuted in Europe and has never been seen this side of the pond, due to Eveready's copping the North American trademark rights to "battery bunnies." And just to make today's typo a bit more topical, it seems that George Bush the Elder once compared Bill Clinton to the Energizer Bunny (a term which had come to mean anything that runs endlessly) during a campaign speech he gave in 1992. His boy Dubya has also shown great stamina when it comes to running for office, but even a hopped-up wabbit without an energy policy has gotta give it up sometime.

(In one of the few times that the Energizer Bunny is actually shown standing still, here he is tied down on the streets of New York, prior to the 2006 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Innonce*, etc. (for Innocence, etc.)

Most cases involving the innocent accused are ones with either too much "evidence" included or not enough. OhioLINK reveals five instances of Innonce* and one each of Innocn* and Inonc*. On the theory that while one N here is too few, three are too many, we also got 15 hits for another of those triple-letter offenders: Innn*. (Three strikes and you're out.) Among those found were misspellings for the words innovation, interesting, inn, inner, inner-city, and innerness. The words innocence and innocent, however, were found not guilty of this error.

(Kelly Michaels, who served five years of a 47-year prison sentence due to false and fantastic accusations of satanic child abuse at the Wee Care Day Nursery in Maplewood, New Jersey, before being exonerated in 1993.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wrold (for World)

Recently a colleague asked if anyone knew a word that means "feeling the world's pain," adding that her dining companion the night before had issued this request along with "that challenge we in the business have all heard: 'You're a librarian...'" The word she was looking for was Weltschmerz, which literally means "world pain." I had forgotten the word itself, but remembered the irony that infused it during the 2006 National Spelling Bee, where an otherwise excellent Canadian contestant unaccountably blew this one, and in a rather weird way: The only letter she got wrong was the first one, making it a V instead of a W. This was strange because, for one thing, German contains a scant dozen or so words that start with V, and, for another, because her father was a native German speaker. I think more than a few viewers got a whiff of Weltschmerz that evening. Wrold (for world) appears eight times in OhioLINK.

(Female nude with globe by Charles Gilhousen, 1919, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Educai* (for Education, etc.)

Marriage to Dylan Thomas was a real education for dancer Caitlin MacNamara, who wed the Welsh poet in 1937. It was for the most part a sad and sodden affair, persisting until Dylan's death in 1953. Having authored several memoirs, including Leftover Life to Kill, she is currently at the center of a couple of British biopics, The Edge of Love and a work in production called Caitlin (which may or may not get released). Another film about the Thomases, dubbed Dylan, is due out later this year. There are 70 examples of Educai* in OhioLINK, making it a typo of "high probability" on the Ballard list.

(Dylan and Caitlin, from

Carol Reid

Monday, November 17, 2008

Virture* (for Virtue, etc.)

Aristotle once wrote, "Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved." More recently, Barack Obama has said of his opponents, "I don't know when they decided to make a virtue out of selfishness." To which someone in the McCain camp responded by putting that quote into one of their campaign ads, while inadvertently (one presumes) changing the word virtue to Virture. Today's typo appears 47 times in OhioLINK and is a "high probability" one on the Ballard list. I suppose that if selfishness were a virtue, a bird of prey might be its most evocative symbol. But there's no need for the bald eagle to vacate its perch just yet. At the moment, liberalism seems to be our most beloved virtue.

(Griffon Vulture by Thermos, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ibliography (for Bibliography)

Typos at the beginning of a word are rare because they are much more salient than typos within a word. This is a typo for the word "bibliography." The initial B is not present. This is not a common typo, with only three occurrences in OhioLINK, the typo reference database, but few words with initial typos are. We see them more easily than we see other typos. They stand out and we fix them. This typo occurs only 37 times in

Speaking of WorldCat, the picture above shows a screenshot from OCLC Connexion. It shows an alphabetical browse display. This display was generated doing the search "scan tiw=ibliography".It shows the word bibliography (and its foreign language equivalent) missing the initial B. Alphabetical browse displays can be very helpful in identifying typos because headings with typos in them tend to "float" to the bottom or top of alphabetical displays, separate from the other lines that are spelled correctly.


Jeffrey Beall

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ofthe* (for Of the*)

Today's typo exemplifies a unique category of typographical error, the smooshing of two small words together without the necessary space. This is a thing which it is not good todo. Most small words, fortunately, are helper words, such as prepositions and articles, and they don't carry much meaning. They aren't often searched except in a phrase or perhaps by people like me who spend too much time looking for typos.

A search in reveals a whopping 3,549 instances of this typo. Our reference database, OhioLINK, has 102.


Jeffrey Beall

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rehabiliation (for Rehabilitation)

This is one of the many ways to misspell the word "rehabilitation." This is a new word to the main list of typos, having been "discovered" in October, 2008. It falls into Category B, with 27 occurrences in OhioLINK, our database of record for measuring the frequency of typos.

A good way to rehabilitate your library catalog is to search known typos and fix them. This will improve access to library materials by increasing search accuracy. This typo has 386 occurrences in Though this number seems high, given that there are over 200,000,000 records in that database, including many created by using OCR scanning as a means of data entry, this number is actually quite small. Still, these typos do need to be rehabilitated.


A baby chipmunk being rehabilitated.

Jeffrey Beall

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Subcommite* (for Subcommittee*)

This misspelling has 66 occurrences in the OhioLINK database. It falls into Section B of the main list of Typographical Errors in Library Databases. This word has a greater chance of being a typo, I think, because it can occur in so many places in a bib record. It can be in a name or subject heading, it can be in the title, and it can be in the imprint statement, specifically, as the publisher of a book or pamphlet. I think we ought to have a group look into this. Perhaps we can form a typos subcommittee.

The Colorado State Capitol building in Denver, Colorado, home of many committees and subcommittees.

Jeffrey Beall

Monday, November 10, 2008

Religon (for Religion)

This typo is classified into Section B of the Typographical Errors in Library Databases list of known typos. Section B lists typos with 16-99 occurrences in the typo database of record, OhioLINK. A recent search confirms that there are currently 42 instances of this typo in the database still. Many of the typos in the main list are truncated as a means of grouping different variations of the same word together into a single entry. For example, the truncation symbol, the asterisk, is often used to indicate both the singular and plural forms of a given word. When I search OhioLINK for "Religion*" I get 48 occurrences.

The spires of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception emerge from behind an old building in Denver, Colorado.

Jeffrey Beall

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yelll* (for Yell*)

This typo is nothing to yell about. The probability of "Yelll*" being a typo in your online catalog is very low. OhioLINK had only one "Yelll*" at the time it was reported and now has none.

Wendee Eyler

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Knowleg* (for Knowledge, Knowledgeable, etc.)

The phrase "scientia potentia est" is a Latin maxim "for also knowledge itself is power" stated originally by Sir Francis Bacon in "Meditationes Sacrae" (1597), which in modern times is often paraphrased as "knowledge is power."

Most libraries will have a high probability of finding "Knowleg" in online catalogs. OhioLINK has 4 subject entries with the typo: Knowlege, Theory of. There were 150 subject entries with the correct spelling: Knowledge, Theory of.

Spelling Knowledge correctly adds a little more power to what your users will find.

Wendee Eyler

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cheif (for Chief)

Hail to the Cheif--er, Chief! "Hail to the Chief" is traditionally played by the U.S. Marine Band to announce the ceremonial entrance of the President of the United States. The song did not start out as a presidential march. It was originally written by English composer James Sanderson for a stage adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's poem "The Lady of the Lake." The tune for the song, however, may have been borrowed from an old Scottish melody. The song was first performed in the U.S. in 1812 and was first played to announce the arrival of the president at James K. Polk's inauguration on March 4, 1845. Julia Tyler, wife of Polk's predecessor, John Tyler, suggested that the song be played when a president made an appearance. The Department of Defense made "Hail to the Chief" the official music to announce the President of the United States in 1954.

Lyrics were written by Albert Gamse and are set to James Sanderson's music, but they are rarely sung:

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.

Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

Hail to the Chief changer of misspelled words in your catalog!

Wendee Eyler

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Uncertaini* (for Uncertainty)

Today is a day of uncertainty. Where can we turn? Which way to the future? Who will be the next president of the United States? The certainty is a bit ambiguous until tomorrow--if we're lucky and the election process runs smoothly.

"Uncertaini*" is in Section B of "Typographical errors found in library online catalogs 1992-2008"--which means it is in the High Probability category (with 16-99 hits in OhioLINK). It is a certainty that "uncertaini*" resides in most online catalogs.

Wendee Eyler

Monday, November 3, 2008

Leadersip (for Leadership)

We're down to the final day before determining the leadership of the United States. While we ponder this new leadership, with all the twists and turns that the world could take, why not take a look to see if some of the old "Leadersip" is still lurking in your catalog. What better time to change that “Leadersip”! If you ask me, "Leadersip" conjures up an image of a leader sipping on a glass of something.

Wendee Eyler