Tag Archives: mistakes

A “Typo” Is a Hairy Wart on Miss America’s Nose

typo 01

Typos are the bain of my existence.

Better make that “bane.” The word comes from Middle and Old English, and has to do with “a cause of misery or death.” It’s roots indicate “murderer,” “destroyer.” “Bain,” I’m told, is a French word for “bath.” And, yes, a cold bain is a bane.

Of course, a sentence such as my first in this column would not be so much a typo as a simple mistake in usage. Or, worse, a blind spot in English skill and knowledge. Or, more sinisterly still, the bitter fruit of a politically correct “education” that puts chicken scratching from an unusually articulate cannibal in a loin cloth and drinking warm blood from his uncle’s skull on par with the writings of Shakespeare. (Just take a look at some university course catalogs and weep. And, yes, I know that most of this paragraph is composed of sentence fragments, and I just started this sentence with a conjunction. Get over it.)

Some typos are just funny.

I was checking out some lyrics for a record I’m hoping to make this summer (“record” is still correct; it’s short for “recording”), and an Internet article offered from that romantic classic, “The Way You Look Tonight,” this lyrical line: “with your smile so worm.” If you prefer your beloved with an intestinal parasite instead of a warm grin, well, there you go. Some people like turnips, and I don’t understand that, either.

Perusing some old issues of The Christian Appeal, a devotional magazine I edit, I ran across three typos in five decades. I know we’ve committed many more, but I dare anyone to find a publication more typo-free. We’re almost neurotic about producing a clean magazine. Typos that slip through are as welcome as a hairy wart on Miss America’s nose, but I do suppose they fulfill one function: they argue for some humility.

I smiled when I read in one of our old issues a friend’s account of a typo in a very early edition of Handel’s Messiah. The mistake occurred, as typos often do, in the worst possible spot. Right in the midst of the great “Hallelujah Chorus,” instead of the immensely reassuring line, “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” something very troubling indeed was reported: “the Lord God omnipotent resigneth.”

Who could blame him?

For, you see, errors in living occur with much greater frequency and far more serious consequences than errors in publication.

After I’d sent to my senior editor brother some page proofs I’d just completed for our devotional mag’s most recent issue, his e-mail came back: “First time ever in all these years, I found not one typo.” As always, I read through again. And found one.

I appreciate and honor good editors. But thank the Lord indeed for sending not an editor to catch our mistakes but a Savior to wash away our sins.


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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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