Typical typos

A new housing community in Minneapolis “will be staffed with a full-time supportive-services manger and 24-hour resident assistants.” That will be interesting to see in July.

A new “Investment Manger receives customary management fees.” Payable in frankincense and myrrh as well as gold, no doubt.

And a local man “is a finalist for the town manger job in Yarmouth, Mass., according to a newspaper report.” Hope he has warm clothes.

It’s been nearly four years since we wrote about the dangers of one letter that turns an intended word into an unintended word. At this time of year, it seemed particularly fitting to highlight the typo of “manger” when “manager” was meant.

Yes, it’s a typo, not a big deal. But it’s one of many that spell-check will rarely catch, and they seem to be multiplying. At least a dozen times in the last month alone, news reports said that one event had “lead” to another. What they wanted, of course, was “led.” They sound exactly alike, but one is the past tense of the other, which is also a homonym for a well-known metallic element.

Typos are easy to make, and we are not casting the first stone, since we’ve made a fair share of our own. Some mistakes are inevitable, but knowing which ones frequently occur can at least get your antenna better tuned to spotting them.

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Typos are not just in journalism, but are often found elsewhere–where, in theory, there wasn’t a deadline of three seconds ago to meet. How many times, for example, have you seen a sign declaring “We are not responsible for you personal belongings”?

Then there are these, collected at different locations around the country:




The sign says that there is a single guest on this floor, and it is for that person’s convenience that smoking has been banned. This common typo takes a singular (guest) and makes it into a possessive instead of making the plural (guests) into the possessive (guests’). Unless, of course, the sign was intending to not make this a possessive at all, but a plural. That would be a worse typo, called a grocers’ apostrophe or a grocer’s apostrophe. People can’t even agree whether it’s a single grocer or many grocers, so it’s no wonder apostrophes give people such fits.

Here’s one, from another hotel:




Since you’ve already made a “contract” with the hotel when you checked in, perhaps they meant “contact.” At least this particular hotel refrained from asking guests to “touch 0” on the phone, which sounds slightly creepy.

When they dine out, some people can’t help themselves from noticing the typos on menus. Sometimes, they’re pretty funny, such as this one:




Maybe you can have a choice of brown bears or black bears. But not “grisly” bears, another common typo for “grizzly” bears. To be fair, a brie salad served with bears would be pretty grisly, and gristly, in any event.

Our all-time favorite menu typo, though, which some of you may have already seen, is also a lesson in how difficult it can be to spot these mistakes. See if you can find the most egregious typo in the following martini menu. Hint: It’s not the whip/whipped cream, which really doesn’t belong in a martini.

If you find the typo, tweet @meperl, after you’re done laughing.




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Merrill Perlman managed copy desks across the newsroom at the New York Times, where she worked for twenty-five years. Follow her on Twitter at @meperl.