Friday, May 1, 2015

Anglel* (for Angel* or Angle*)

A friend has requested a favor of me that I might literally be one of the very few people on Earth capable of granting. She wants to borrow a book that I happen to own for scanning and then sending overseas to be published in a new foreign-language edition. (This book is currently out of print, unavailable online, and only held by two libraries in WorldCat.) She called me her "angel in distress." Which is really sweet, of course, and would seem to be yet another case of "conflated idiom": that is, "damsel in distress" (her) + "angel in disguise" (me). We found 18 examples of Anglel* in OhioLINK, and 361 in WorldCat. Most were typos for names like Angelika or Los Angeles, although a few of them were for titles in a children's series about math−for example, Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland (2001) by Cindy Neuschwander. Be an angel and save the day by correcting this typo in your own catalog of books today.

(Piscator Bible, Apocalypse Angel with book, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stret + Street (for Street or Stret)

Alfred Billings Street has been referred to as the "State Poet-Librarian of Albany," a lovely-sounding if informal moniker for a man who was not only the New York State Librarian from 1848 to 1862, along with being the State Law Librarian until 1868, but was also a lifelong wordsmith. (He was once gently mocked as "the forest child in shape of ALFRED STREET!" by Edgar Allan Poe in his pseudonymous book The Poets and Poetry of America: A Satire). Ironically named, perhaps, Mr. Street was an evident nature lover and rather romantic bard to boot. In Frontenac: Or, the Atotarho of the Iroquois; a Metrical Romance, he wrote:

Sweet, sylvan lake! that isle of thine
Is like one hope through grief to shine;
Is like one tie our life to cheer;
Is like one flower when all is sere;
One ray amid the tempest’s might;
One star amid the gloom of night.

A portrait of Alfred Billings Street, by Asa Twitchell, currently hangs in the Librarians Room at the New York State Library in Albany, where it joins that of Melvil Dewey and a couple other former State Librarians. There were eight instances of Stret + Street (for street or stret) found in OhioLINK today, and 172 in WorldCat. You may turn up a few correctly spelled non-English names and words with this one, but you should also find some genuine typos here.

(Alfred Billings Street, engraving by Welch & Walter, circa 1850, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ullys* (for Ulys*)

Ulysses S. Grant was born 130 years ago today, but that wasn't his given name at birth. Rather, it was "Hiram Ulysses Grant," which unfortunately made his initials spell the word HUG, a fact of which the sensitive boy was apparently well aware. Not wanting to attract the odd joke or nickname, I suppose, and especially given the fact that he was only 5'1" and 120 pounds when he enrolled at West Point at the age of seventeen (Grant was generally considered somewhat prim and rather effeminate; one biographer even suggested he was "almost half-woman"!), he tried switching his first and middle names around, calling himself "Ulysses Hiram Grant." But the congressman who had appointed him to the military academy (which he had zero interest in attending, but also greatly feared flunking out of) assumed that his middle name must have been "Simpson" (his mother's maiden name) and "Ulysses S. Grant" it became. He tried telling people that the S "stood for nothing," although "U.S." really isn't such a bad beginning for a man who would someday be president. Grant's schoolmates started calling him "Uncle Sam" and after a while shortened it simply to "Sam." In addition to his other many accomplishments, Grant popularized (along with James Joyce) the Homeric Greek hero Ulysses, along perhaps with Uncle Sam, the personified symbol of the United States, who had also had his origins in upstate New York. People have struggled with the name Ulysses both before and after Grant, it seems, and today there were eight examples of this typo in OhioLINK, and 123 in WorldCat.

(Official presidential portrait of Ulysses Simpson [sic?] Grant, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cleaniness (for Cleanliness)

I go past a laundromat on my way to work that often makes me think of this typo blog. It's called the "Clean Swipe" laundry. That's not really a typo there, though; it's more like what I would call a "conflated idiom," where the speaker is obviously trying to recall an actual expression, but can somehow only manage to come close. In this case, the more established term would have been "clean sweep," "clean slate," or "clean start." There's no such thing as a "clean swipe," but one can easily imagine where the confusion must have come from, i.e., "to wipe the slate clean." In the book Clean Clarence by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich (and illustrated by the late great Louis Slobodkin), Clarence is a neat freak trapped in a pig's body, and one who wants nothing more than to come out of his closet nattily attired in a raincoat and galoshes. Cleanliness here is next to hogliness, and it's not too happy about it! There was only one occurrence of Cleaniness in OhioLINK today, and 15 in WorldCat. Let's clean our slates of this untidy typo, as our dear friend Clarence would clearly like us all to do.

(Cover of Clean Clarence, 1959, from Io Sono: the Louis Slobodkin website.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Normon* (for Norman*)

I blogged the other day about the Norman Rockwell Museum, mostly about its current exhibit of the work of J.C. Lyendecker, an artist who, like Norman Rockwell, did a lot of magazine covers. One of Rockwell's most memorable covers was of "Rosie the Riveter," whose name was taken from a popular song and who symbolized the many American women working in factories during World War II−thereby supporting both the economy and our fighting men abroad. Rockwell's model for "Rosie the Riveter" was actually a 19-year-old telephone operator named Mary Doyle Keefe, from Arlington, Vermont. The painter, who lived nearby, persuaded his young neighbor to pose for him and the resulting picture appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943. Although J. Howard Miller's morale-boosting factory poster from around the same period (it got a boost itself from feminists in the early 1980s) is arguably even better known than the original Rockwell cover, both images are commonly referred to as "Rosie the Riveter." Miller's "Rosie" may have done more for the female upper arm than Michelle Obama, while her upraised fist was a call to arms of another sort. Rockwell's "Rosie" sports a sandwich in her hand and a sneer on her face; her feet are planted on a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf. Rockwell claimed he modeled his riveter on Michelangelo's Isaiah, from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He later told Keefe she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen and apologized for his rather unflattering portrayal of her, explaining: "I did have to make you into a sort of giant..." The inspiration for that American giant of wartime and women's iconography, Mary Doyle Keefe, passed away yesterday at the age of 92, in Simsbury, Connecticut. The typo Normon* (for Norman*) occurred 18 times in OhioLINK, and 317 times in WorldCat.

(Rosie the Riveter as depicted by Norman Rockwell in the Saturday Evening Post, 1943, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soceit* (for Societ*)

It's a little hard to tell at first if Soce is black or white, gay or straight, human or perhaps a member of some other sort of society. By his own admission, he's an "elemental wizard" who performs "homo hop" on violin, piano, guitar, and bass. He's a Jew from New York City and a graduate of Yale. (Before that he went to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.) He's extremely prolific, loves comedy and floats (the kind you dance on and wave from), and is one of rap music's few openly gay MCs. He's also an unrepentant math nerd. He once produced a video series called "Math Problems" and co-hosted a monthly math bee at Chelsea Market with comedian and professional smarty-pants Jen Dziura. Soce was born Andrew Singer; he plays a computer programmer on Wall Street by day. Dubbed "the male Lil Kim and the white Eminem," Soce has performed and garnered great reviews from all around the world. Among other things, he's actually been in three different documentaries about gay rappers. Soce, you might say, is the "It Boy" for our modern-day, multi-culti society. There were 86 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 1187 in WorldCat.

(Photo of Soce, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Friday, April 17, 2015

Embarrase* or Embarrasm* (for Embarrass*)

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." The same thing is true of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. These three emotions are all somewhat different, but are definitely related. Shame, in particular, has been bandied about a lot in social media lately in the context of so-called "slut shaming." Sexual agency and/or frequency isn't the only way women are potentially shamed, however. There's not caring enough about one's looks or attire; being too brainy, ambitious, or competitive with men; making the "wrong" choices about marriage and children. There's also coming off as too angry, or too assertive, or what used to be known as "shrill." (Perhaps we should call this one the "Shaming of the Shrew.") I do not want to guilt the lily, and it is sort of a crying shame, but there's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to our two typos for today, which turn up two and four times apiece in OhioLINK, and 40 and 65 times each in WorldCat (though some of the latter may be antiquated variants). And be sure to check as well for the previously blogged Embarass*, by far the most common misspelling of this word.

(Eleanor Roosevelt in school portrait, 1898, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid