A rare Saturday Clutterbuck (as I have unwisely subscribed to Blog Every Day April and its outrageous demands).
It’s going to be a rather hasty one, and there might be a typ or two, but that’s all right, because this Clutterbuck is actually about typos (I know what you’re thinking: that’s pretty meta. And you’re right, it is).
This all occurred to me when I inadvertently coined the word boniculars yesterday. It got me thinking about the inherent lovability of mis-spellings. Don’t worry, I won’t start quoting Winnie the Pooh, because I don’t want my readership vomiting all over the place (Dorothy Parker used to refer to AA Milne as ‘Whimso’, and she didn’t mean it in a nice way).
Nigel Molesworth is the undisputed master of this sort of thing.
Aktually all boys hav to hav a time when they are not tuough and cabnot even read. There was even a time when i had no culture myself hem-hem which was when my pater and mater thort i was a brane and would win a skolarship.
It is a funny thing about reading when you are a tiny they make you sa Ah-Eh-Ih-Ou-URR etc. which is uterly wet and read about weedy dogs.
I could quote Molesworth all day long (that was from Whizz for Atomms by Geoffrey Willans, illustrated (brilliantly) by Ronald Searle (1956)). But I don’t know why the mis-spellings – which surely ought to be horribly twee – are so brilliantly funny. I don’t know why I always laugh out loud at the line ‘I will uterly tuough you up’. I don’t know why this is one of my favourite lines ever:
Maybe it’s just me that likes this kind of thing. Anyway, it makes reading anything from before the 19th century a bit discombobulating, as I can’t help being diverted by the Quixotic spellings and rogue capitalisations (‘Sowe Carrets in your Gardens’ (Richard Gardiner, 1599), so quote a random example).
There’s less hilarity in my final instance. Jude The Obscure (1896): poverty-stricken Jude Fawley returns home to find that his three young children have hanged themselves. The note they’ve left reads:
Done because we are too menny.
If I remember rightly, Michael Winterbottom’s 1996 Jude re-spelt this is ‘to many’, which was if anything more heartbreaking.
Now let’s all go and read some Molesworth to cheer ourselves up.