The privates sector of pubic service

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.

10 Responses to The privates sector of pubic service

  1. One would wonder how often the word ‘public’ is misspelled as ‘pulic’ rather than ‘pubic’? I think either mischief or mental slip would explain it …

  2. Stan says:

    Doubtful: Not nearly as often, I would guess — but it does happen, and in some unlikely places.

  3. Sean Jeating says:

    Who knows, people spelling public pubic, might be longing for rather than writing ‘public’ to be in the(ir) pub.

    This reminds me of that once, in a story settled in Cork, I let one toper exclaim: Die besten aller Christen sind irische Pubisten*.
    In English not only this does not rhyme but does not sound as funny: The best of all christians are Irish pubists.

    * Pronouncing ‘Pubisten‘ English, it differs from Papisten (papists) only by the b.

  4. Stan says:

    Sean: Pubists would be a grand word for pub-goers if it didn’t remind them of Papists! Also, the spelling suggests the pronunciation /pjuːbɪsts/ (PYOO-BISTS) rather than /pʌbɪsts/ (PUBBISTS). Similarly, it’s not just the meaning but the pronunciation of pubic, /pjuːbɪk/, that sets it a world apart from public.

    people spelling public pubic, might be longing for rather than writing ‘public’ to be in the(ir) pub.

    They might — or in their pubes, or someone else’s: if there’s an unconscious longing underlying the pubic-for-public typo, I think it’s more likely to concern sex than alcohol! And while I’m on the subject, and lest anyone think privates sector in the title is a typo, I will here declare that it’s a shameless play on the euphemistic meaning of privates (= private parts = genitalia).

  5. wisewebwoman says:

    Oh well, I’ll confess now.
    In a time and town far far away and long, long ago. Us girls formed a volleyball team.
    Our games were very well attended, attractive young women in abbreviated beach wear vollying around a net would be a small part of the attraction.
    The name of the team, however, emblazoned on our teashirts, caused many raised eyebrows.
    “The Pubic Reds.”
    We always said it was a misprint.
    It wasn’t.
    XO
    WWW

  6. Stan says:

    WWW: Scandalous! Thank you for sharing this racy revelation. I can only imagine the raised eyebrows and quizzical looks in county Cork as bystanders wondered whether the spelling was a result of mistaking the moniker, or miss taking the mickey! This is definitely a story for your biographers. And it is not so very far away or long ago, though these things are very relative.

  7. If theose making coffee in places like Starbucks are Baristas then lets call bar staff pubistas. As for pubic domain, is a more and more becming Brazilian?

  8. Stan says:

    Now that you mention it, Jams, pubic domain strongly suggests a Brazilian (the hair removal technique, not a person from Brazil). But it’s not a hint I will heed!

  9. Claudia says:

    That a public becomes pubic
    is not, per se, a grievous sin
    until people dance and frolic
    showing their privates with a grin.

  10. Stan says:

    Thank you Claudia — a marvellous verse!

    Modesty in one’s attire
    Prevents a public fall;
    The NPS should try to hire
    Proofreaders, first of all.

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