deird1: Vimes lighting a cigar using a swamp dragon, with text "Fabricati Diem Pvnc" (Vimes)
[personal profile] deird1
Typos in books really annoy me.


This is, to some extent, expected. After all, I'm an editor. My natural inclination upon seeing a typo is to whip out a red pen, correct it, and then reprint the page. And you can't just reprint a book every time you see a mistake.

But in this case, I'm not talking so much about the mundane typos, such as this one in Harry Potter:
"They've already heard. Fang!"

Which, if you think about it, clearly should have been:
"They've already heard Fang!"

Irritating, but perfectly easy to see what was meant.


It's more problematic in, for instance, Agatha Christie books. Where there are constantly lines of dialogue missing.

Seriously! It's hard to notice at first, but if you go through every two-person conversation in the book, assign one line to one person, and then alternate, you'll constantly find it changing person unexpectedly, so that someone has actually answered himself. There are all these lines of dialogue missing that were clearly supposed to be part of the conversation, but accidently left out - and no-one noticed!

And it's too late to ask the author what she'd intended to write - given that she's dead, and all.


Not having a Christie novel on hand, I can't give you an example of this conversational weirdness. I can, however, give an example of an equally irritating typo, from the book that prompted this post. It is as follows:
It had been tasted by three tasters, including Sergeant Detritus, who was unlikely to be poisoned by anything that worked on humans or even by most things that worked on trolls... but probably by most things that worked on trolls.


Given the way Pratchett's writing tends to work, I would assume that this phrasing was clearly leading up to a joke. But, instead of a joke, it's simply repeated the "worked on trolls" bit twice. Typo? I'd say so. And an irritating one - because there's a missing joke! And I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS.


*grumbles*

Date: 2011-12-01 10:31 pm (UTC)
chalcopyrite: The end of a shelf of books, with the words "and then we'll maybe drown in Dewey decimals." (books: drown in dewey decimals)
From: [personal profile] chalcopyrite
Dropping by to commiserate -- and to say that all of a sudden, some difficulties I've had with Christie's untagged dialogue make much more sense. I wasn't simply losing count!

One that drives me to wild speculation is in one of Roger Zelazny's Amber books; a line was copied from its rightful place on the left-hand page, and duplicated on the same line on the right-hand page. (Provided it's the right-sized book; it took me years to figure out, since they're almost two pages apart in my little mass-market copies.) So the narrator's brother had been crowned, and "now resided [line break] legendary unicorn of Amber." An interesting mental image, but I really doubt it's what he was going for!

The Discworld quote sounds sadly familiar, so I think my copy probably has the same typo. Alas.

Date: 2011-12-01 10:52 pm (UTC)
bruttimabuoni: (Suffer)
From: [personal profile] bruttimabuoni
I've always assumed with Christie that she was knocking out books so fast they were her errors, not printer errors. It's easy to lose count of dialogue if you're not constantly ending he said/she said, and the conversations usually convey the Important Clues they are supposed to. The fact it's in so many books tends to confirm - writer and editors at fault, I fear.

Date: 2011-12-01 11:42 pm (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
you'll constantly find it changing person unexpectedly, so that someone has actually answered himself.

Yes! I was nine or ten years old when I read all of Christie, so I assumed it was just me!

Date: 2011-12-02 12:02 am (UTC)
velvetwhip: (Default)
From: [personal profile] velvetwhip
I have to concur with the folks who opine that the Christie errors were made by the author herself. She was putting out books at quite a clip and details can fall by the wayside under those circumstances.


Gabrielle

Date: 2011-12-02 12:16 am (UTC)
silveronthetree: R2D2 (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveronthetree
It had been tasted by three tasters, including Sergeant Detritus, who was unlikely to be poisoned by anything that worked on humans or even by most things that worked on trolls... but probably by most things that worked on trolls.

But I thought that that WAS the joke?

Date: 2011-12-02 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klme.livejournal.com
It was unlikely he would be poisoned by them...but probably would be. It was unlikely my son would find the mud...but probably would find the mud.

Date: 2011-12-02 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swellen.livejournal.com
What's the context of the Harry Potter quote? Because to me, that could easily be read as a comment to the other protagonists followed by an angry exclamation to Fang - ie, "They've already heard. Fang, you're so loud you gave us away!"

Date: 2011-12-02 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klme.livejournal.com
I disagree. They are addressing fang in that last bit.

Date: 2011-12-02 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swellen.livejournal.com
Hmmm. I stand by my comment - I think Ron is saying 'they've already heard' and then getting cranky at Fang.

But I share your distress at typos and other errors. I had to stop reading a book the other week because it repeatedly used 'affect' when it should have been 'effect'. REPEATEDLY. It was painful.

Date: 2011-12-02 02:33 am (UTC)
snickfic: (Xander latin)
From: [personal profile] snickfic
My roommate frequently wishes to hold the position of Universal Editor of Reality so that she can reach in directly and fix those errors in all media - books, ads, food labels...

Date: 2011-12-02 02:54 am (UTC)
ext_15284: a wreath of lightning against a dark, stormy sky (Default)
From: [identity profile] stormwreath.livejournal.com
Back in 2001, someone on alt.books.pratchett emailed Terry Pratchett to ask him whether that line was correct. His reply:

"Yeah... Those wonderful people at the publishers added a proof correction but neglected to delete the bit it was correcting!"

Unfortunately, we still don't know whether the correct wording should have been "or even" or "but probably", but it's one or the other. Not both.

("Or even" is funnier, though.)

Date: 2011-12-02 07:09 pm (UTC)
bruttimabuoni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruttimabuoni
Ahhhh. That makes sense. Thank you. (I think definitely 'or even', judging by Pratchettisms. I'm convinced, anyway.)

Date: 2011-12-02 05:47 am (UTC)
bobthemole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bobthemole
What Pratchett book (and approx. page) is that quote from? The US edition might have the correct line, and I have all the Vimes books on hand.

Date: 2011-12-05 08:57 am (UTC)
nenya_kanadka: Wonder Woman poster (kneeling with sword) (Default)
From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka
Oh! It's not just me then, with the confusing untagged lines of dialogue? Because sometimes I count, and I think it makes sense until it doesn't, and it drives me crazy. Thank you, you have relieved my mind on a small but significant point!

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