Thursday, May 31, 2012

Small things amuse small minds

Typographical errors can sometimes be amusing, and some of them predate the advent of computerized publishing and spell checkers. In those days, a good editor presumably needed to have an excellent eye for detail, or at least you would think that would be the case. You couldn't afford to be lazy and rely on automatic correction to detect these errors.

This picture is from Man's Past and Progress: The Story of Civilization, published in 1961 by Odhams in London. This is one of those general world history texts aimed at juvenile readers. t was the sort of book that earnest parents would buy for their children because "it will help them  with their school work." To make history accessible to such an audience, you add lots of illustrations and write in simple language.

This brief discussion is about the Phoenician civilization, and headed "The Frist (sic) Great Maritime Power." Surely they meant "first?" How many thousands of copies of this book were distributed with such an obvious and slightly embarrassing error? How much mirth did this create in libraries and classrooms around the world? Oh well, at least we can laugh about it now.


Glen O'Brien said...

I used to collect my student bloopers. It might surprise you how often 'immortality' becomes 'immorality.' Then again maybe it wouldn't.

Ross said...

That reminds me of the time when somebody at a church in suburban Melbourne mucked up the song words for "Joyful, Joyful," so the line that should have read "giver of immortal gladness" verse became "giver of immoral gladness."