Most of us now take the spell-checker for granted, and being alerted every time we mistype a word is certainly a useful aid to writing. But a spell-checker doesn’t understand meaning, so even if a word is spelt correctly, it may not spot a grammatical or contextual error – and nor may you.
“A typo can charge the meaning of everything.” – Demitri Martin
Thou shalt not commit adultery? The Barker and Lucas bible of 1631 – also known as ‘the Wicked Bible’ – unfortunately missed out the word ‘not’ from this commandment in Exodus 20:14.
In 2012, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney launched an app that allowed users to take photographs and apply one of 14 overlays, including one that says ‘A Better Amercia’.
The managing director of the Chilean Mint was sacked after the production of 1.5 million 50-peso coins that spelled the country’s name ‘C-H-I-I-E’. The coins remain in circulation now. The managing director, however, is long gone.
How about spinach being a great source of iron? We all know that to be true, right? Actually, it is a misconception caused by a typo in a 1870 German study. The decimal place for spinach’s iron content was one place too far to the right. That means the report claimed the vegetable had 10 times its actual amount of iron. This error stuck, and as a result, entire generations have grown up thinking that eating spinach could turn you into Popeye!
On the subject of food typos, in “The Pasta Bible” by Silvio Rizzi and Tan Lee Leng, a recipe calls for “freshly ground black people”. Hopefully, what they meant to say was “freshly ground black pepper”.
Amusing as these examples are, it is unlikely that the authors would have wished to become known for these mistakes, and all these typos could have been easily avoided by using a professional proofreader.