Typographic “Errors” on Blogs

While in the process of moving posts between blogs in preparation for the new blog I alluded to in my last post, I came across one that originally came from The CAC Review (my first blog, started in 2003) and re-read it since it will be timely again tomorrow. The post in question had to do with the Caribs of Arima, Trinidad, and what I thought was a particularly nasty set of messages projected at them, the nation, and those listening in from the wider world, about ethnicity, identity, and the position of the Carib community. For what was otherwise such a staid blog — apart from the long campaign it led against Disney and its Pirates of the Caribbean — that post was among the exceptions for being so openly and directly critical, especially about a powerful and respected institution in Trinidad. Close to a dozen of the 700+ subscribers dropped their subscriptions in the days immediately after the post went up. And so that post was a pretty “big deal” for that blog, for that time.

To get to the point: Owen Wiltshire commented on the previous post here that he hates to post comments on blogs because then he cannot delete any errors or edit his comments after they are submitted. Indeed, I have littered his blog with multiple comments, half of which are to post-edit my comments. This is an especially sensitive issue for academics — I suspect that we fear that typographic errors indicate haste, limited self-reflection, the inability to be self-critical, and that we might convey a limited education. There are typographic errors (i.e., typing “errrs” or “wrrors”) and then there are “typographic” errors (i.e., whole words dropped, words misspelled in ways that the position of letters on the keyboard cannot excuse, the wrong word used, words made up, etc.). In both cases, academic writers look silly if they leave these uncorrected.

So here I am, two years after that post went up that I mentioned at the outset…and what do I see? I see that instead of writing “ceremony” I wrote “sermony.” That’s right, sermony. It looks like I might have been thinking of “sermons” while typing “ceremony” — or it looks like a drunken, cross-eyed illiterate slammed into a keyboard at 100 miles per hour. I mean just look at it:


Yes, “sermony” — did I mention that I am an anthropologist, I have a PhD, and I am a tenured professor?


Yes, and I teach. I correct papers.


Yes, because we anthropologists who study and write about religion, tradition, and ritual…we’re always talking about “sermonies.” Indeed, Malinowski’s first book was the Sermonial Lifes of Savadges.


Dumbass. Fool. Moron. Twit. Two years, two years it’s been up there, while those in power who were criticized read the post, and then guffawed, and told friends, “hey, look at this ‘academic,’ he can’t even spell basic words…and this is no typo!” You know how unforgiving Catholic priests can be in reality. I mean no insult to Roman Catholics here, I am a recovering Catholic myself.


I mean, just look at it. Two years. Professor. Critic. Jerk. Two stinking years. It is finally corrected now, but who knows how many other mistakes lurk out there in my old posts. And that was a collaborative blog too…so it means my co-editors did not read or notice the error either — more embarrassment.

4 thoughts on “Typographic “Errors” on Blogs

  1. Maximilian Forte

    It has a convincing look to it, maybe that’s why after two years nobody mentioned the mistake. Perhaps some people thought, “just another case of academic jargon”?

  2. Typo Guru

    Even in this post, an error slipped through! You left out a word in your second sentence: “The post in question had to DO with the Caribs…”

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