Wednesday, 20 August 2014

HISTORY's MOST HEINOUS TYPOS

It's my Wedding Aniversary today so I'm going to have some fun!
Typos have been causing embarrassment, angst, tension and torment for as long as we've been writing -- long before the typewriter, and even the printing press.And William Caxton -- the merchant who set up Britain's first printing press in 1476 -- was so bad at spelling that he would ask his own readers to "correcte and amende where they shal fynde faulte.
Perhaps a really bad typo could cause an editor so much entertainment, she might read through the rest of your proposal to see if there is any more fun to be had! Or not.
In terms of the oldest typos, many are from Bibles published in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The most famous example is a 1631 edition known more commonly as the "Wicked Bible." This particular version managed to leave the word 'not' out of the seventh commandment in the Book of Exodus, thus asserting to devoted Christians: "Thou Shalt Commit Adultery." Other misprints of biblical proportions include:
  • "Rejoice and be exceedingly clad!" (rather than "glad," Matthew 5:12, from an 1864 edition printed in York)
  • "Let the Children first be killed" (rather than "filled," Mark 7:27, from a 1795 edition known as the "Murderer's Bible")
History's most powerful and prestigious have consistently failed to escape the humiliation of the humble typo:
  • During the Wilson presidency, The Washington Post was credited with the "most famous newspaper typo" in D.C. history; it intended to report that President Wilson had been "entertaining" his future wife, but instead wrote that he had been "entering" her.
  • The London Times, describing Queen Victoria traversing the Menai Bridge, announced in one amazing headline, "THE QUEEN HERSELF PISSED GRACIOUSLY OVER THIS MAGNIFICENT EDIFICE."
  • I myself have often signed off (when in a hurry) "God less" instead of "bless".
  • Another addition is the mispronunciation of the word "eunuch" . One young fellow given the Bible reading about Philip and the eunuch, actually said "the oonch." Being on the platform, it was difficult not to dissolve into fits as he kept repeating it all through the reading. I could only gaze at the floor!
So if you see your terrible typo AFTER you've hit SEND, then remember you are in good company...it has also happened to the high and the mighty.
(Courtesy of an edited Drummond Moir article.)

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for the laugh Rita. I bet Winston Churchill's wife was pleased when she saw that typo. Probably wasn't any more "entertaining" in their house for a while.

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    1. I did some proof reading for a young man recently who wrote," it was not just an idol thread." See if you can figure that out.

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    2. You nearly caught me on that one, Nola. No, it wasn't Winnie.

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  2. They are so funny, Rita. Yet it's so easy to miss them, when we know what we intended to say. Good proof readers are invaluable. (I imagine Queen Victoria wasn't amused.)

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    1. No, she certainly wouldn't have cracked a smile. However I read once that a lady at her table got her decolletage entwined when a waiter was serving soup. It created quite a stir and Her Majesty stared ahead with tears escaping. Her lady-in-waiting said that inside she was screaming with laughter. Oh, for such control!

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  3. These are classic, Rita! Only going to prove that proofreading is very impotent.

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    1. You gave me a good goggle over that one, Anne!

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  4. Happy wedding anniversary Rita and thanks for the laugh. The one about Queen Victoria is a classic and, as Paula says, I'm sure she 'was not amused.' I don't know why but I often forget to type in the word 'not' even though I clearly say it in my mind! Even more embarrassing can be when you say the wrong word during public speaking.

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  5. Thanks Jeanette. Worse still is when you're the only one who 'gets' it and you must not dissolve into wild laughter. I guess you can only bluff it out, keep a straight face, and the audience will believe they heard wrong.

    BUT when it's in print it's always there to haunt you. Oh, yes we must think twice before hitting that fateful "SEND."

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  6. While writing A Simple Mistake, I wrote: 'It's Malcolm. He's hung himself,' said Nick in a strangled voice.

    I fixed it as soon as I'd stopped laughing.

    Loved the post. Happy anniversary, Rita!

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  7. Rita, great post! The auto-correct feature on our phones, especially when we're messaging, can create some hysterical one-liners. Happy Anniversary :) I hope you have something special planned for today.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Narelle. Yes, we've just returned from a cosy Greek restaurant. Mmm-mph!

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  8. Why is it that a misprint on a stamp makes the stamp an automatic collector's edition, but a misprint in a book just makes it an object of a joke?

    Happy Anniversary, Rita. May there be many more joy-filled years (oops. That was almost "joy-filled ears").

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    1. Thanks, Iola. Actually I'm happy to accept 'joy-filled ears' when it's my darling filling them with his lovely compliments. All these years he has uplifted and supported me as I have him. It makes for a fulfilled Christian marriage.

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  9. Happy Anniversary, to you and your husband, Rita. I hope you celebrated in style.

    As for the misprints and typos... GUILTY! So bad, I could not repeat them here. But if you ask Catherine Hudson nicely, she might whisper some of my best 'oopsies' in your ear.

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  10. Next time I see her I'll be sure to ask. :) Thanks Dottie.

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