It has been quite a week for typos. A cookbook called Pasta Bible made headlines for an error as unsavoury as its dishes are (presumably) delicious. Elsewhere, a subtler error caught my attention; or rather, it caught the attention of Amy, editor of WildBird, and was brought to mine by Mark Allen. (Twitter is full of editors sharing stuff.) This pubic-for-public error, which appeared on the U.S. National Park Service’s website, has since been fixed, but a cached version preserves its ingloriousness:
Pubic for public is a common slip, but it shouldn’t appear in carefully edited text. Wondering if it was repeated on the NPS website, I ran an internal search for pubic and discovered, to my amazement, that the word registered almost 800 times. Some of these instances are legitimate anatomical references, but in the vast majority of cases the word should be public. The pubic count is now a more merciful 574,* but even allowing for correct usages and duplicates (of which there are many), the frequency of this typo is impressive.
To give you an idea of the variety, there is a Pubic Library and a Pubic Open House, a church that is open to the pubic, and opportunities to present pubic programs. There are pubic meetings, pubic teachers, pubic lands and pubic comments; there is pubic pressure, pubic access, pubic review, pubic assembly, pubic safety, pubic benefit, pubic dissemination, and pubic information (too much, if you ask me); and there are, naturally, pubic restrooms. To adapt a previous pun: What on earth is groin on?
These and similar examples abound, giving the impression of a schoolboy’s prank. Assuming that it’s mere carelessness, someone really ought to address it — if only for the pubic good.
* Update: A few hours later, it’s 331. They’re evidently working on it.**
** Or maybe not: the tally is now 865. I don’t think I’ll look again.