Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

The Ever-Present Typo . . .

Imagine this:

A public speaker known for their eloquence of utterance is well into their talk and says:

“We must remember, stalling is good for our health.”

Considering they were talking about exercise, what do the folks listening think?

Some will recognize the verbal “typo” and correct it to strolling, never losing a beat.

Some will recognize it and have their thinking stall, missing the next three sentences.

Some will not notice it at all—some of this group correcting it unconsciously, some thinking they can slack off on their workouts.

This happens with the written word, too.

In my past post, A Book Review That Teaches The Author Something About Typos . . ., I said:

“These typos [noticed by a man who’d read my novel] were missed by the editor, a number of authors who read the book, and myself

“Yet, before receiving this bit of editorial help, 8 other typos had been identified—typos which this man didn’t see

“Yes, wonderfully weird proof that we often read a book with typos and never see them.

“And, the typos we do see are often not the ones others see…”

Another example from my reading:

There are certain books by C. J. Cherryh I’ve read at least four times each—never noticed a typo.

After I’d had experiences with typos in my own work, I read one of those Cherryh novels again

I saw two typos

Here are a few excerpts from an article in The Guardian titled, Alex Ferguson’s errors join a grand publishing tradition:

“Is there a special bad elf that creeps out in the pre-Christmas period to wreak havoc with would-be bestsellers?”

it’s Alex Ferguson‘s turn to face the wrath of fans, after his autobiography was found to contain 45 howling errors.”

“The Ferguson fiasco is less easily brushed away, given the publisher’s insistence that the ghost-written book was read by a specialist football fact-checker as well as in-house staff.”

“It’s rare these days that whole editions are pulped due to unactionable errors

“Pity the poor publisher of the ‘Wicked Bible’; which, in 1631 contained the most famous proofing error of all: ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’.


Whether you’re a reader, writer, or publisher (or, all three), I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feelings about the pesky typo in the Comments :-)
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4 responses to “The Ever-Present Typo . . .

  1. Martina Sevecke-Pohlen November 21, 2013 at 3:00 am

    This month, Catherine Ryan Howard had a blog post about how some readers focus on what they perceive as typos. She is an Irish author writing for an international audience, using British spelling. Readers used to American spelling have asked her to correct words spelt the British way because they assumed she was an American. I found this intriguing because German spelling has different variants, too. When I visit a Website and get a subtle feeling that something is “wrong” I often find that the texts are written in the Swiss variant. The Swiss, for example, don’t use the letter “ß” as representation of sharp s-sounds, whereas Germans and Austrians still use this letter after long vowels. Short vowels appear before two or more consonants, just as in English. Germans and Austrians would need to look at the context to decide if the Swiss sentence “Die Leute trinken IN MASSEN” means “A lot of people are drinking” (short vowel) or “People are drinking in measure” (long vowel).
    I asked on Facebook if other authors had encountered this Problem. None of them had but all were aware of the difference in spelling. Since the number of Swiss authors is comparatively small I presume that their spelling is more likely to be criticised.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai November 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Completely and utterly Fascinating, Martina!

    So, this makes me wonder

    With a concentration on spelling “typos” are folks missing real typos??


  3. Martina Sevecke-Pohlen November 22, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I think that very likely. Of course, if readers read with the intention of finding typos they usually find irregular forms or usage. Typos only swim on the surface of writing. It takes mental involvement in the text to find real mistakes.


  4. Alexander M Zoltai November 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Exactly, Martina


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