Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Top Terrible Typos!

Most of you will know, particularly if you read my blog in the early days, that I’m not averse to the odd typo. Hopefully I’ve weeded most of them out by now.

I blame the fact that I can’t spell on the way I was taught.

I look upon it as having a creative mind that doesn’t like to conform to the rules.

Or it could just be that I’m a bit rubbish and that spelling is my Achilles heel. Thank the lord for spell check I say. Prior to spell check I was spelling glue as glueeeeewww (aged 6) and tiger as tigre (aged 19 and doing a zoology degree at Oxford – v. embarrassing).

For me spell check is a life saver, but where it falls down is when you spell something wrong but it is actually still a word. I struggled with ‘trail’ and ‘trial’ for example when I was doing my PhD.

But while getting ‘trail’ and ‘trial’ muddled up isn’t the end of the world – the potential is there for some crackers.

Like yesterday.

It’s not often that I look to Facebook to break shocking news of new trends, but yesterday that’s what happened .......

Cat Dodsworth is horrified to see that today's Groupon offer is a 'Spay Day For Two With Treatments'. Whatever next - 50% off a vasectomy, but with some beers to make up for it?

Needless to say Groupon have now rectified this mistake, but not before it prompted some debate.

Ha ha - reminds me of a great typo I spotted in the local paper a couple of years back, about an older lady who worked at McDonald's and was saying how good she felt at the end of a hard shift... with the F missing!

And who could forget (I wish I could) my infamous typo while working for Keep Britain Tidy on a sponsorship proposal to Wrigley’s for a good gum disposal campaign. What I wanted to write was ‘gum hotspot in public places’. What I actually wrote was ‘gum hotspot in pubic places’. I was horrified.

While these typos are all very amusing, they are fairly innocent, so I decided to do a bit of research yesterday and stumbled across the most excellent ‘’s 7 most disastrous typos of all time’.
It’s had nearly 3 million hits so I’m plagiarising a good one!

#7 Spinach Power

Spinach’s claim to super strength fame is based on a 19th century typo. A 1870 German study on the iron content of spinach accidentally placed the decimal point one place too far to the right giving it 10 times the actual amount of iron and on a par with red meat. 

As a result, subsequent generations have grown up thinking that eating your body weight in spinach will turn you into Mike Tyson. To this day Spinach (while still good for you – unless it’s carrying E-coli) is still described as being ‘rich in iron’ even though in reality it has as much as water melon, which tastes considerable better in a cocktail!

#6 The NASA Mariner Mishap

In 1962, NASA launched its ill fated first inter-planetary probe (Mariner 1). The plan was to fly her a Bananarama away from the planet Venus.

Unfortunately someone had made a monumental cock-up programming the guidance system software.

The typo was as simple as forgetting to write either the over bar or full stop (or worse, both) over the R which apparently makes a massive difference if you’re on a day trip to Venus.

Once it became clear that this software error had rendered Mariner 1 into little more than a massive missile, crashing back down to earth at a thousand miles an hour, NASA had no choice by to detonate their $80 million craft less than five minutes after launch.

#5 Mizuho Securities cocks up. Twice.

“Ooops” doesn’t come close to describing the financial judgement day that Mizuho Securities in Japan experienced on December 5th, 2005. It started when they launched a new company (J-Com Co.) on the financial market with the intention of offering it at 610,000 yen per share ($5,041). Unfortunately the result of a typo actually offered it at one yen per share.

Not content with that, they then went on to offer 41 times the number of J-Com Co. shares that were actually in existence.

Despite noticing the mistake Mizuho Securities were forced to back up their offer in yen for dissatisfied customers. They watched in horror as their company haemorrhaged millions. By the end of the day, Mizuho Securities had lost $225 million.

Good day at the office dear?

#4 The real Bruce Wayne sentenced to death

Regardless of the capital punishment debate, when it comes to the death penalty it’s fair to say that attention to detail is important, especially when it’s Bruce Wayne that you’re planning to fry.

In 1985, a very un-Batmanlike Bruce Wayne Morris was convicted of robbing and killing a man – with a stick and stone. When the time came for the jury to sentence him, they had to choose between execution or life imprisonment. 

Easy choice?

Well it was until the judge issued written instructions to the jury that an imprisoned Bruce Wayne would not have the possibility of parole .... and then accidentally left out ‘not’

It took more than 10 years and a federal appeal court to reverse the decision on the grounds that the state of California were on the verge of executing Bruce Wayne – due to a typo!

#3 Made up word makes it into the English dictionary

In 1931, ‘Dord’, a totally made up word, made it into the English dictionary (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary) as a noun in physics and chemistry meaning density. ‘Dord’ was only rumbled in 1939 when finally spotted by the Grammar Police.

It seems that ‘Dord’ was originally submitted by the chemistry editor to read ‘D or d’ an abbreviated form of density. Somewhere along the line someone tidied up the gaps.

So if someone pulls out ‘Dord’ during a particularly competitive game of Scrabble (mentioning no names ...... Tris), don’t stand for it!

#2 Chilean money mishap

In December 2008, the Chilean Mint misspelled the name of their own country on one of their coins. No one knows how many ‘Chiie’ coins were pumped into circulation, since it was only 10 months later that anyone noticed.

Despite many sackings as a result, it seems that those responsible may have had the last laugh as the coins have since become collectors items and worth considerably more than their original 50-peso’s.

#1 The Bad Bible

The 1631 re-print of the King James Bible (better known as ‘The Wicked Bible’) is all the proof you need that God does exist – and he has a sense of humour. 

To reprint the King James Bible, royal printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas had to arrange an exact duplicate of the original book. With its 1,189 chapters, 31,101 verses and 783,137 words (like Mahershalalhashbaz) it was just begging to be misspelled.

Despite the incredibly intricate and laborious reproduction process, amazingly they only made one major typo – a missing word in Exodus 20:14. Unfortunately that one missing word out of 783,137 turned out to be a rather important one.

Instead of ‘Though shalt not commit adultery’, they missed out not

Yup, it read ‘Though shalt commit adultery’!

The next bit is a direct quote from ‘’, an American web site (because all of the above is completely my own work and not copied at all):

‘Historians have yet to reach a consensus as to whether the typo is the reason for England's larger than average population of complete bastards.’

Yes, we love you too!

King Charles ordered every existing copy of the offending book to be burned. As a result only 11 of the books survive today.

No, I didn’t believe this one either, but then I looked it up on Wikipedia who confirmed the story, so who am I to argue! 

So there you have it. From a ‘Spay Day for Two with Treatments’ from Groupon to the King James Bible and a blank cheque to commit adultery, despite the 400 year gap I am seeing complementary cowpat-ability.

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