Archive for Errors

Typos that reverse meaning

It’s fairly common for a writer to accidentally leave out the word not and thereby write the opposite of what they intended. But I feel like it’s less common for other kinds of typos to result in a reversal of meaning. I just came across one: It was an intense feeling of fatherless. Based on […]


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The voice was passivized by the author

I just saw the following line in an ad: I can’t believe it was made by myself! …Certainly passive voice is not the only problem with that sentence. For example, the last word should be me rather than myself; a lot of English speakers incorrectly use myself to sound more formal or official in contexts […]

When captioning goes awry

I’m not sure whether the captioning for this year’s online Worldcon panels is automated or human transcription. One panel that I watched, the captioning was pretty much unreadable, but on another one, it’s pretty good. But even in the good one, there were some mistakes. Such as when one of the panelists used the word […]


Saw an ad yesterday that showed a photo of a device, and overlaid on the photo was the word Qtoscope. I assumed that was the device’s brand name, and I was amused; I kinda thought that a Qtoscope should be what you use to look for cuteness. “I pointed my Qtoscope at this kitten; it […]

Job title of the week

At first I thought this line in a Verge article was a typo: “According to one cryptogopher working at Google,…” I also thought that cryptogopher sounded like a great superhero name. “Look, down in the ground! It’s Cryptogopher!” But it turns out that Filippo Valsorda describes himself as Cryptogopher @Google in his Twitter profile. I […]

Plausible typos

Some typos are more harder to detect than others. I’m currently reading the 1989 Mandarin Paperbacks edition of C. J. Cherryh’s novel Downbelow Station, which is rife with the sort of typos that a spellchecker won’t catch, because the erroneous word is also a valid English word. (Okay, “rife” is an exaggeration; I really only […]


A 2013 SMBC comic that I just saw suggested that the superlative of Fourier is Fouriest. Which reminded me that in 1998, I found a typo in the dictionary. Here’s the email that I sent to Merriam-Webster about it: Hi. I was just leafing through my copy of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, and I found […]

On Pound’s “translations” from Chinese

I’ve been hearing Ezra Pound’s name for decades, but it recently occurred to me that I didn’t know anything about his life or his poetry. So I went looking online for more information about him, and quickly came across an entertainingly written 1958 takedown of Pound’s and Ernest Fenollosa’s approach to translating Chinese poetry: “Fenollosa, […]