Top Ten, er, Eleven Most Controversial Typo Fails
Guest post while I move to Costa Rica. If I never return, blame Costa Rica… Pura Vida.
- A typographical error.
- A foul misspelling, or misplacement of wording.
- Editorial screw-up
My understatement for the year:
We’ve all been the victim of typos, and, although humans are far from perfect, Spellcheck can only help us so far. However, when a single person’s work goes through a series of development stages, and passes through the watchful eyes of the editor, management, designer, and other important bodies, one would expect the copy to have been analysed to the point where words and letters no longer have a meaning.
Since I am all of the above, it’s hopeless for me. But prestigious publications have plenty of proofreading chances.
Here’s a rundown of the top
ten eleven, controversial typo fails:
11) The San Francisco Chronicle had everyone concerned and confused when they said “Boeing loses $70 million due to misplaced coma”. Not only is that a typo, but it’s a typo about a typo.
10) In Florida, the St. Augustine Record celebrated their anniversary with the front-page headline, “100 Years of Pubic Service”. Unless St. Augustine is the waxing capital of Florida, this is probably a typo.
9) A typo in the reprinting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet slipped by six different proofreaders, and it’s one of the most famous theatrical phrases in history. It read “To be or to be”. That is definitely not the question.
8) In an L.L. Bean back-to-school catalog the toll free number accidentally started with 1-877 when it should have been 1-800. This lead to all customer calls to go to an unrelated company in Virginia. L.L. Bean paid the company an unnamed sum of money (probably six figures) to immediately become the owner of that misprinted phone number.
7) An edition of the Bible printed in 1862 included a numeric mistyping in Revelation. The number of the Beast was written upside down, changing it from 666 to 999. “Sarge! Got someone on the line asking for a Damian”.
6) Even the Wall Street Journal makes mistakes. In an article ridiculing a conference on critical thinking the Journal slammed our former surgeon general “C. Everett Coop.” Only they spelled his name wrong. It should have been “C. Everett Koop.” Critical thinking eh. Oh, the irony.
5) Christoph Luxenberg, an ancient Semitic language scholar, argues that the Koran has been mistranslated all throughout history. According to Luxenberg the Koran passage that promises martyrs virgins upon death is wrongly translated, even from the oldest of Aramaic sources. Instead of 72 huris (virgins), martyrs are supposed to get 72 white grapes, or raisins.
4) Merriam-Webster’s New International Dictionary, published in 1934, accidentally created the ‘ghost word’ Dord, and defined it as “density”. Webster’s chemistry editor at the time, Austin M. Patterson, submitted the slip for the entry which was written as “D or d, cont./density.” Consequently, it was interpreted as single word. The word ‘dord’ went unnoticed and remained in the dictionary for five years before catching the eye of editor, Philip Babcock Gove. By 1940 dord was finally removed from the dictionary but has since created its own strange little cult status amongst the literary world. Gove went on to write an article for American Speech magazine titled ‘The History of ‘Dord'”.
3) If a spelling error is made on a computer it can be rectified easily enough. A tombstone, on the other hand, is more of a headache to alter. Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978, and when he died from a series of strokes in 1991 his wife, Alma Heimann, made a slight error in the document which included the intended text for his tombstone. The company responsible for producing the stone even contacted Heimann to correct to her mistake but she merely replied “Do it as I gave it to you.” So with that, the tombstone was printed with the title “Isaac Singer, Noble Prize winner”. It wasn’t corrected until 1993.
2) During President Woodrow Wilson’s time in office (1913 – 1921), his first lady Ellen Wilson died of Bright’s Disease in 1914. His grief was arguably short lived and he remarried Edith Galt in 1915. As their love for each other blossomed, many gossip columns and Washington WAGS dived at the chance to ridicule and comment on the relationship. In 1915 a gossip column in the Washington post was commenting on the social behaviour of President Wilson, and hit the mark rather unintentionally. The comment should’ve been “Rather than paying attention to the play, the President spent the evening entertaining Mrs. Galt.” The first edition took on slightly a Freudian twist and read “…the President spent the evening entering Mrs. Galt.” While he did have sexual relations with that woman, it’s fair to say they probably weren’t that overtly passionate. Wilson suffered from a serious stroke in 1919, leading Edith Galt to take the reins in his absence, which further lead to her being given the unofficial title of America’s first female president.
1) In 1631, the Royal Printers in London printed what was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. However, they made one major typo in the Ten Commandments and forgot to include ‘not’ in an important sentence. The sentence in question read as “Thou shalt commit adultery”. Considering this was a time of repression where sex and adultery were very taboo subjects, the result couldn’t of been worse. The publishers were fined 300 pound sterling (over £40,000 by today’s standards), deprived of their printer’s license and the historic impact of this notorious cock up has led to that edition being referred to as The Wicked Bible. 1,000 copies were printed in total, however, most of them were ceased, burnt and destroyed. In the entire world today, only one copy is available for sale at the princely sum of $89,500. If Ryan Giggs ever finds salvation in God, let’s hope he doesn’t bag this copy.
This article was produced on behalf of PrinterInks – the leading suppliers for ink cartridges and toners throughout the UK and Europe.