To err is who man

We all make typos. There's no getting around it. If you're human and type a lot, you will make typos. That's what beta readers and editors are for. Plus, in this day and age, you've always got a spellchecker handy to flag your mistakes for you. It's kind of hard to let a typo slide if Microsoft Word tells you in red that you spelled something wrong.

Unless, of course, your typo isn't misspelled. This is a problem I have all the time. When I'm typing quickly, I substitute words that sound like the word I intended to type. It's like my brain is hooked on phonics. And I don't mean I have a homonym problem. I know when to use they're and their, cast and caste, etc. No, I substitute words that sound *like* the word I intended--but not exactly like it. Like so:

I arrived at seven on the doubt.

Yeah. I probably don't need to tell you that I intended to use "dot" there. This one's obvious too:

Our leaves depended on it.

That doesn't make sense, unless perhaps it's spoken by some harried gardener who needs to get a yard cleaned up ASAP. And seriously--I do these ALL THE TIME. I'm currently going over the second Bloodlines book and am in awe of all the sounds-alike substitutions I did while typing the first draft. None, however, are as magnificent as this one:

I found the candles--atrocious air freshening ones that smelled like fake pain.

This was supposed to be "fake pine," but man, I'm not going to lie. Fake pain--whatever it smells like--sounds awesome. Does it smell like Teen Spirit? Can I find a way to spin this into money-making merchandise with fake pain scented candles or cologne? That typo is so good, I kind of want to leave it in there.

Am I the only one who does this kind of thing? Is there a name for it?


Anne of Cleaves said…
I once typed "conflagration" when I meant "conflation." I wish I remembered the rest of the sentence. My advisor and I laughed about it for a solid 10 minute.
Alii Silverwing said…
I do this *all the time*, especially when I'm tired. I know it's time for me to sign off and bed when I start substituting words. I usually say that I'm starting to homonym.

I wish I could find some of my recent examples. They're pretty spectacular and sometimes only barely related. Like 'alone' and 'only' in saying, "leave me only!"
bettielee said…
I do this, but I do the homonym thing, too. I know the it's its differentiations... but sometime I throw that apostrophe in for no reason.
Unknown said…
I'm not sure the typos qualify as a mondegreen (the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. It most commonly is applied to a line in a poem or a lyric in a song) but that's the closest word I can think of.
And yes. I do "harms" for "arms" and that all of the time - even when I'm writing by hand.
Christy Lynn said…
It's called a malapropism after a character in a play, Mrs. Malaprop, who often did the same thing :)
Kitty said…
My biggest problem, is when I write words, (not so much when I type, usually i can keep my mind on track then) I write the middle and end of the word before I write the first, which if you are really tired, can confuse you as to what the word was really supposed to be... I don't know how many times in school my teachers looked at me like I suddenly grew two heads because of it. Finally a teacher had been watching over my shoulder and watched as I wrote and asked me what I was doing, I didn't know that it was that weird haha

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