Thursday, August 21, 2014

Masterpeice* (for Masterpiece*)

On this day in 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris, France. It was a Monday morning, and surprisingly, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece wasn’t noticed to be missing until Tuesday at noon. It was lost for two years, and finally recovered in the thief’s apartment mere blocks from the museum.

When the news of her disappearance was released, many people thought it was a prank – how could the most famous painting in the world just vanish? Denial turned to depression: Louvre Curator of Painting Jean-Pierre Cuzin said, "The public came just to see the void where the painting had been hung, just to see the nails which held her. Everyone thought that she was lost forever.” Following that were the jokes, including offers to steal the Eiffel tower and songs written about the theft.

For a bonus typo, search “Mono Lisa,” which we’ve blogged about previously.  To read more about the theft, read the story on

Leanne Olson

(Empty frame image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Artic (for Arctic)

A cataloguer on the AUTOCAT Listserv recently shared the worst summary note she'd ever seen in a cataloguing record. We found it to be so funny that it had to be shared beyond the email's audience.

This is from the bibliographic record for a DVD titled Journey to the Edge of the World:
Billy Connolly as he takes you on a voyage through the North West Passage, a legendary route deep within the artic circle that has periously thwarted explorers for centeries. In the journey to the edge of the world Billy retraces their steps and retells the history and predicted furture of this land, in his own unique and impassion style. The program captures the thrilling, emotional and exceptional experiences that Billy Connolly has encounted along his journey. He learns how to be a bear whisperer, goes panning for gold and discovers the finer complexities of the Inuit language. With breathtaking scenary and a kalideoscope of characters Billy met along the way, Journey to the edge of the world reveals a glimpse of a stunning land rarely witnessed by the western world, now bought to life with the help of a very special guide.

It's practically incomprehensible. How many errors can you spot? On first glance I find four in the first sentence, I assume it's supposed to read "Join Billy Connolly as..."

Any of the errors might be used for today's typo.  I went with Artic, no wildcard -- though note that it's valid in some Nordic languages ("Artic Cirkel") and that Artic can also refer to a type of tram, a brand of vodka, and a town in Indiana, USA, so don't make batch updates on this one.

Leanne Olson

(Image of a point on the Arctic Circle courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Maltesen.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Audting, Audt* (for Auditing, etc.)

I've been cataloging a lot of audit reports lately. The Office of the State Comptroller conducts what feels like an endless and unhappy parade of these, keeping an eagle eye on the budgets and practices of everything from cities, towns, and "populated places," to water, school, and fire districts. Generally, they include somewhat obsequious-sounding responses from the auditees, in which they thank the auditor for doing such a good job, and then promise to do a better one themselves next time. Every now and then, some actual criminal activity (embezzling and worse) is uncovered as well. Having lived in New York virtually all my life, I'm always surprised at how many of these places I've never even heard of, most of them requiring authority work. And like many other examples of "small-town America," their finances may be a bit of a mess, but their names are frankly adorable: Almond, Blooming Grove, Busti, Caroline, Deposit, Friendship, Hannibal, Homer, Lysander, Mamakating, Mooers (I picture it with lots of cows), Otto, Pitcairn, Red House, Romulus, Triangle, Tuxedo, and Victory, to name but a few. Speaking of which, one of our readers posted a comment to AUTOCAT regarding Wednesday's blog entry (which began: "I love unusual names. I started collecting them once just to keep from going insane..."). He wrote: "If you love unusual names, try this. It will make you go insane—with laughter." In honor of auditors and awesome names everywhere, above is a Matthew Brady portrait of Orange Ferriss, who was the Second Auditor of the U.S. Treasury. He hailed from Glens Falls, New York, a city that passed its last audit with "high marks and a few concerns." One of those had to do with the civic center, which costs quite a bit of money to maintain, "but officials said that bringing in high profile shows, such as Phish, will help keep it afloat." That prediction might have gratified old Orange, who went to college in Burlington, Vermont, home of the popular alt/rock band. A quick audit of the usual suspects found one case of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 32 in WorldCat. However, if we truncate our search to just Audt*, those figures jump to eight in the former and 619 in the latter.

(Hon. Orange Ferriss, Second Auditor, Treasury, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865, by Matthew Brady, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dionysus + Dionysius (for Dionysius or Dionysus)

I love unusual names. I started collecting them once just to keep from going insane during a couple of distinctly non-Dionysian jobs that involved dialing up large numbers of total strangers and annoying the hell out of them. I can still recall a few standouts, and enjoy repeating these to myself on occasion, but I rarely share this rarefied list, and never in print, out of what may be misplaced privacy concerns. Recently, I met a woman whose alluringly alliterative name is like an amazing melding of Amelia Bedelia, Rosa Rosanova, and Roseanne Roseannadanna. (She claims to not even like her name, it's her married name, and she shortens it whenever possible. But take my word for it, it's wonderful. It's like something both sturdy and aromatic you'd want to plant in your garden.) A Rose is a Rose is a Rose, of course, and let's also not forget that Violets are sometimes Blue. But enough about those people. I'm here today to talk about somebody else with an oddly great name: Dionysius Lardner. Born in Dublin in 1793, Lardner was a science writer who notably edited the 133-volume Cabinet Cyclopædia (a series about a vast array of things, to which, by the way, Mary Shelley was the sole female contributor). Lardner was a respected economist, cited in Karl Marx's Das Capital, and was instrumental in publicizing Charles Babbage's difference engine. He was both highly accomplished and remarkably visionary, but he also had a few scandals on his résumé. He seems to have had a penchant for married women, once getting sued by an irate husband for "criminal conversation" with his wife. Another time he got a railroad company off the hook by testifying that its faulty designs did not cause an explosion; lightning did. (It was later pointed out that there actually wasn't any lightning that night, but the "act of God" defense had struck a chord.) Dionysus was a Greek god, but Dionysius is the most common spelling variant found in library catalogs. There are seven proper names properly spelled Dionysus in NACO (one of which is a variant on Dion Boucicault, who was "probably" the son of Dionysius Lardner), compared with 241 for Dionysius. Dionysus alone yields 1076 hits in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat, but if you combine both terms, you get a mere eight in the former and 79 in the latter. I'll leave it to you to decide how best to divine these particular typos in your own databases. Here's how a variety of searches shakes out in ours:

Dionysius = 1694 in OhioLINK / too many records found for your search in WorldCat
Dionysus = 1076 in OhioLINK / too many records found for your search in WorldCat
Dionysis = 41 / 539
Dionysis + Dionysius = 2 / 10
Dionysus + Dionysius = 8 / 79
Dionysis + Dionysus = 2 / 5

(Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859), British scientific writer, 1833 or after, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 11, 2014

Porceed* (for Proceed*)

I recently had this, um, thing done. You know, like kind of a routine exam? Or sort of a medical procedure, or... Okay, okay, it was the dreaded colonoscopy. And let me proceed to tell you, you big bunch of babies, there's nothing to it! You have to drink an unseemly amount of liquid the day before, including Gatorade (or some other juice, water, or bouillon combo) mixed with a tasteless crystallized laxative, and you do have to go to the bathroom quite a bit, but that's the worst thing about it. Some folks are vaguely awake during the "conscious sedation" that precedes the procedure, but many don't feel or remember it at all. It's actually kind of weird to find that a stranger has been anally probing you for the past fifteen minutes or so, while you didn't even realize he was back there, but it's good for a chuckle or two with the nurses afterward, and then you get the best-tasting Saltine crackers and ginger ale you've probably ever had. I gratefully consumed these while waiting for my ride and doing a crossword puzzle, although it occurred to me at one point that perhaps I should be reading Dombey and Son instead. In case you missed the allusion there, it's from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. According to Franny: "He said he was—this is exactly what he said—he said he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, all by himself, drinking a glass of ginger ale and eating saltines and reading Dombey and Son, and all of a sudden Jesus sat down in the other chair and asked if he could have a small glass of ginger ale. A small glass, mind you—that's exactly what he said. I mean he says things like that, and yet he thinks he's perfectly qualified to give me a lot of advice and stuff! I could just spit! I could! It's like being in a lunatic asylum and having another patient all dressed up as a doctor come over to you and start taking your pulse or something..." There were six examples of Porceed* in OhioLINK, and 111 in WorldCat. Proceed with your usual procedure today and remove any typos you find.

(Colonoskop pant, 24 June 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 8, 2014

Afica* (for Africa, African)

The western African nations of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are all struggling with deadly outbreaks of the Ebola virus. A common misconception about Ebola is that there’s no cure for it and no surviving it, and even if the truth is scarcely more comforting—the mortality rate for this species (Zaire) can be as high as 90 percent but is currently hovering around 60 percent—health officials are spreading the word that people who think they’ve been infected should seek treatment. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who completely deny that Ebola exists. But adopting this extreme position will certainly not help the more than 900 souls who have died so far.

Afica* is a high-probability typo. There are 28 English-language entries in OhioLINK and 264 in WorldCat.

(Educational poster from the CDC Ebola page)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Engilsh (for English)

The other day I was browsing through the pages of a well-known mail order catalog, and I spied a T-shirt with this message:  “I’m fluent in three languages—English, sarcasm, and profanity.”  Who knew?!?  Perhaps the proficient among us should start listing these linguistic skills on our résumés!  At the very least, the knowledge should be a real confidence booster.

However, our claim to fluency will lose cred if we can’t spell the names of our languages.   Engilsh is a typo that even native speakers make with some frequency—there are 12 instances of just that one variant in OhioLINK, and WorldCat has 68 entries.

("The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things" by Hieronymus Bosch, from Wikimedia Commons.  Fortunately, sarcasm and profanity are not among them!)

Deb Kulczak