Monday, 24 October 2011

Curse of the trypo

The Wicked Bible

A minor niggle in a blogger's life is the typo. It's even worse for those who leave comments, because usually when you post the comment, that's it - typo committed. I have a problem with typos because I tend to focus on the words I'm about to key in rather than the one I'm actually keying in now.

Some blog posts seem to be keyed in directly rather than being pasted from a word processor draft because they often have common typos such as "hte" for "the". Nothing wrong with that - blog posts are ephemeral products. Other blogs (not mine) always read like a carefully edited second edition.

Anyone thinking of buying a Kindle or other electronic reader to read older works such as Jane Austen, needs to be aware that typos are an issue with electronic texts apart from blogs. It is pretty obvious than many classic texts are generated by scanning a paper copy into Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software with rather variable results. For example, I've read a Jane Austen work with dozens of obvious typos, all typical of poor OCR editing. They don't spoil the enjoyment, but they are an issue.

Another issue with OCR-scanned output is where the original text is altered. My Kindle copy of Wilkie Collins' "Basil" has "cheque" changed to the US spelling of "check". Similar changes can be seen in Kindle versions of Sherlock Holmes presumably produced in the US.

However, by far the worst example I've ever come across was an OCR-generated paperback copy of John Horne Tooke's  The Diversions of Purley. This is a rare book and somebody obviously had the bright idea of scanning an original to generate some cheap copies. However, OCR scanning does require a literate editor during the interpretation stage. This book had so many glaringly obvious typos that numerous sentences made no sense at all. I threw it into the bin. I recycled it.


Demetrius said...

I never ever make a typo it is either the typewriter or the machine what makes them. Oh yes, and the grammeratical errors as well they are with.

A K Haart said...

D - yes, I mean what you know.