Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by noodler, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. noodler Banned Banned

    There is a compendium somewhere that lists the most common misspellings of English on the Internet.

    Mostly these are attributed to typos and "fingering errors"; but there are a lot of commonly misspelt words. This suggests all human typists follow common usage patterns and so, misspellings are a statistic of these patterns.

    For instance, I commonly futz the word "quantum", often hurriedly typing "qunatum"; then the word "what" often ends up as "waht".

    So here are a few examples, with possible semantics attached.

    "Terminalogy": the study of terminals, particularly the ones that end immediately.
    "Waht": what happens when you forget your baseball cap - acronym for "without a hat".
    "Qunatum": an artificial atom, made by atumic scientists.

    ...anyone have any others?
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I had a friend back in the 1960s who added the command FOMRAT to his Fortran compiler, because he could never type FORMAT correctly.
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  5. noodler Banned Banned

    Fomrat: a nasty little critter in a FORTAN program that defies debugging.
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  7. noodler Banned Banned

    Neurtal: a land-dwelling relative of the teurtal.
    Neurtal country: a place where neurtals live.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    My most common typo seems to be typing "you" when I want "your". For some reason, my brain just refuses to type that final "r". I'm constantly having to go back and edit posts for that reason, when I notice the error.
  9. Gustav Banned Banned

    perhaps there are common typographic errors due to the peculiarities of physiology [or some ...ology?]

    what about qwerty? any other more intuitive layouts?

    the "waht" noodler mentions seems common enough

    "What's wrong?"
    OK, an easy one to start. Yup, those aren't proper quote marks; they should be ‘sixty-six and ninety-nine’ quotes. The mistake happens because typewriters, pushed for space, decided to have only one neutral quote on the keyboard, not dedicated opening and closing quotes, and the convention stuck.
    THE FIX: alt-[ and alt-shift-[ for double quotes; alt-] and alt-shift-] for singles.

    New in iWork ‘08!
    Of course, now we have word processors that do smart quotes for us automatically, everything's cushty, right? Wrong. If you type the above sentence in Word or any other modern app, it will think that because you type the first ‘apostrophe’ in a sentence, you want an opening, ‘six-style’ single quote. Instead you actually want a ‘nine-style’, closing apostrophe, so you have to enter it manually – or type two and go back and delete the first – so that the sentence reads New in iWork ’08!
    THE FIX: As above.

    I am 5' 10" tall
    So those 'straight' quotes aren't for proper quotes, but they represent feet and inches, right? Wrong. They're not actually for anything. Feet and inches should be represented by primes, which look a bit like straight quotes tilted slightly to the right. If your browser supports the characters, the above statement should read: I am 5′ 10″ tall.
    THE FIX: Sorry, but this is a bugger to fix. If you're in InDesign or QuarkXPress, use the glyphs palette. Otherwise, OS X's Character Palette – check the International pane of System Preferences – is your only salvation.

    10.5″ x 9.4″ x 4.5″
    You fix one problem, and another one just bloody well comes along. So, hurrah for getting the primes right, but using a lowercase X for the ‘by’ character is another lazy I-can-see-it-on-the-keyboard-so-I’ll-just-type-it thing. Correctly rendered, the above measurement should be 10.5″ × 9.4″ × 4.5″, not 10.5″ x 9.4″ x 4.5″.
    THE FIX: Again, a tricky one. You'll need to break out the character palettes.

    14º and overcast
    This is a really subtle one, but that degrees symbol you see up there isn't a degrees symbol at all. It's actually an O ordinal, used, inter al, in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish to denote masculine gender.
    THE FIX: alt-0 gives you the ordinal, while alt-shift-8 is a true degrees symbol; alt-K is a ring above accent. [thanks, silverpie!]

    Some - indeed most - use hyphens incorrectly
    A hyphen – the kind of short dash you see above – should really only be used when linking words such as ready-made. It shouldn't even be used mathematically to represent a minus, as there's a dedicated character for that, too [thanks, Dash Nazi!]. Most other uses mandate an en dash – as here, for example – or when planning meetings from 1–2. Changing fashions mean the the long dash—this one, called an em dash—is rarely seen, but where it is, it's usual to render it without the spaces on either side or with special hairline spaces instead.
    THE FIX: alt-hyphen for an en dash, alt-shift-hyphen for the em.

    Only £17.99!
    Again, laziness and the democratisation of typesetting mean that we've lost the use of the correct interpunct in prices. £17.99 should be correctly rendered £17·99. After decimalisation in 1971, a period was only supposed to be used if technical limitations meant that a middle dot couldn't be printed.
    THE FIX: shift-alt-9 types an interpunct [thanks, Nic!]

    Nobody cares...
    Quite probably. But what you see above is just three periods, not a true ellipsis. Want a proper ellipsis? OK then… (In this font, three periods looks like this, much more tightly packed...)
    THE FIX: alt-; types a proper ellipsis.

    These (honest!) are brackets
    No, those are parentheses. Brackets [like these ones] are used to add in information missing from a sentence you shouldn't change – such as a direct quote – or to add information outside the voice of the original text. And don't think you're smart using angle brackets to replace quotation marks when writing French; <en français> is horribly wrong, and you should instead use proper guillemets if you want to write «en français».
    THE FIX: Just be aware of the difference, and don't call parentheses brackets! [Note that Lise makes a very good case for me being wrong in the comments, but I'm not so sure. More research is needed...]

    3 1/2″ and 5 1/4″ disks are obsolete
    Though complex fractions have to be created individually, most mainstream fonts have the characters for a quarter, a half and three quarters. 3½″ and 5¼″ not only look better and are more accurate than the use of the forward slash, but they're clearer too. 3 1/2 looks like ‘three and one or two’, and you obviously need the space in there otherwise it becomes 31/2. In this age of decimalisation, 3.5″ or 5.25″ are, of course, alternatives, but there are some uses where a proper fraction is more sympathetic to the source or context than a forced decimal.
    THE FIX: You're going to need your character palettes again. You didn't just tidy them away after the last time, did you?

    not quite typos but still interesting
  10. Gustav Banned Banned


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    For Your TypographicInformation

    One of the most irritating typographic faux pas is the use of straight quotation marks (also called “dumb” quotes) instead of true typographic quotation marks (“smart” or “curly” quotes). How did this dumb-versus-smart muddle begin? Blame the engineers: the standard keyboard layout (which was not created by typographers!) has straight quotes in place of real quotes. As designers, it’s our job to use our “smarts” to work around this all-too-common problem

    so what keyboard layout would a typographer create?

    Several other alternative keyboard layouts have been designed either for use with specialist commercial keyboards or by hobbyists (e.g. Asset, Arensito); however, none of them are in widespread use, and many of them are merely proofs of concept. Principles commonly used in their design include maximising use of the home row, minimising finger movement, maximising hand alternation or inward rolls (where successive letters are typed moving towards the centre of the keyboard), minimising changes from QWERTY to ease the learning curve, and so on.

    Programs such as the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and KbdEdit make it very easy for users to create their own layouts or modify existing ones to suit their own typing patterns and needs. Kiwi is a program where user preferences can be applied to adjust which of the aforementioned principles are applied and to what extent to generate a custom keyboard layout.

    Some high end keyboards such as the Kinesis Advantage contoured keyboard allow users total flexibility to reprogram keyboard mappings at the hardware level.(link)

    The Curse of QWERTY
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The bizarre QWERTY layout was not designed to make typing easy. In fact it was just the opposite!

    You younger people may have never seen an original old-fashioned typewriter. Until the "speed-ball" Selectric came out in 1961, the letters were on the end of ridiculously long rods that swiveled up 90 degrees to slam the ribbon into the paper. With all that inertia they didn't go up or down very fast, and since they all had to hit the same spot on the paper, it was not at all difficult for one going up to hit one going down and jam the machine.

    So the keyboard was deliberately laid out to slow down the typists! Look at "dear," one of the most common words in old business correspondence. All four letters are on the same hand, two in a row are on the same finger, and one is on the left pinkie, your weakest finger. Only a musician could type that word quickly. "Fuck" is much easier, alternating hands, four different fingers, and the strongest ones at that--and nobody typed that word very often back in those days.

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    Some of the most common letters like A,T, Y, H, N, L, are in really awkward locations.

    Sixty words per minute--six keys per second counting the space bar--was the target speed for a touch typist, and at that speed you could depend on almost never having to un-jam your keys.

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