Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beware Library Posses

So I'm reading this story from The Detroit News: Libraries used as hangouts anger patrons. And everything is fine until I see this photo.

I don't want to pick on a library for a typo. And I don't want to think that the library didn't have any available dictionaries.
But I do wonder why Microsoft Word or whatever word processor they used had the word "posses" in its dictionary (so that it didn't spot the misspelling). I guess it's a common word, although I rarely use it. I just opened Word and typed "possees" and got back suggestions for "posses," "poses," "possess," "posies," and "pusses," so "posses" is part of the default dictionary in Word (meaning it wasn't added to the custom.dic file on the computer that made this document). From what I can find, the base Word dictionary has about 99,000 words and the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition says about 225,000 words, and according to here, the OED 2nd lists 171,000 words in current usage.

So I guess it's not a big deal to misspell possess as posses and not have your word processor catch it. But it's kind of a big deal to have a photo of your mistake appear in the paper for everyone to see.