Other people's typographical errors are always more amusing than one's own.
The mechanism is simple. An instant's distraction, the wrong neuron fires, and the mind, knowing what it intended to write, slides over the error without recognizing it.
One makes them. Everyone makes them. This is why (How often must I tell you this before it sinks in?) I ought to have a copy editor. You ought to have a copy editor. Everyone ought to have a copy editor.
The endless fertility of typographical errors makes possible a book, Just My Typo (Three Rivers Press, 181 pages, $11.99), of blatant and notorious errors compiled by Drummond Moir.
Not all of us rise to the notorious in our typos. Few could expect to match the Barker and Lucas Bible of 1631, famed as "the Wicked Bible," in which Exodus 20:14 reads "Thou fhalt commit adultery." Or the 2010 Chilean 50-peso coin on which the name of the nation is spelled 'CHIIE." Gregorio Iniguez, managing director of the Chilean Mint, lost his job, but the 1.5 millions coins remain in circulation. Or even the U.S. Bicentennial Commission, which sent out a newsletter in 1971 referring to the forthcoming 200th anniversary of "the Untied States."
Newspaper headlines are endlessly amusing. The Christian Science Monitor furnishes an example of one of the most treacherous hazards for the craft: "ONE CAN ARGUE THAT THE PRESIDENT IS USING THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS TO BOOST HIS PUBIC PROFILE."
Though, pace, Mr. Moir, "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN," is not a typo, but a bad decision on deadline.
I might also quibble over the inclusion in this small volume of mistakes from schoolchildren's homework. "Defoe write simply and sometimes crudly" violates spelling and grammar but is not a typo. "Drake circumsized the world in a small ship" is an eggcorn, not a typo.
Most of us will come to grief over that damnable autocorrect function on our smartphone messaging, of which Mr. Moir provides representative samples: "He told me the other day that you're the first girl he ever thought about the fuhrer with."
I think you have the flavor. This is the sort of book that one would typically keep in what used to be thought of as "the smallest room in the house," before people with more money than sense decided that the bathroom should take on the proportions of Versailles. A little of it at a time does very well.
Mr. Moir is determined to soldier on, inviting readers to submit favorites to Justmytypo@hodder.co.uk "for inclusion in future editions."