Typo Repair in the WBC

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RayDeck3 | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 12 2014 5:01 PM

We recently released a major update to one of our most popular commentary sets, the Word Biblical Commentary, adding several thousand new links and repairing many—but not all—of the user-reported typos. Here's a quick explanation of why we chose not to fix them all.

There are 22,165,650 words in the Word Biblical Commentary. Since we last updated WBC, we’ve received 11,243 typo reports. Of 11,243 typos reported, we fixed 9,939. In other words, the WBC went from a 99.955% accuracy rate to nearly 100%. (We’re hesitant to say we hit 100%, because with 22,165,650 words, it’s possible we still missed one.)

If you’re doing the math, it sounds like we left 1,304 typos. You’re probably wondering why, and the answer is a little complicated.

  1. A spellchecker would return too many false hits. There are lots of technical words unique to the field of biblical studies. Terms like “eisogesis,” “sitz im leben,” and “Johannine” would get flagged by your spellchecker.
  2. Many words are spelled different ways in different places. You’d be surprised how many typo reports we get from users in the U.K. who think we’ve misspelled “center.” The reverse is true, too—when a work is published in the U.K., our customers in the U.S. regularly report “centre” as a typo.
  3. There are lots of words that are homonyms with words in other languages. Is “die” the German article, the English verb, or a misspelling of “died”? Spellcheckers can’t solve this; humans can.
  4. In the Word Biblical Commentary, you’ll also find lots of transliterated words from the Greek and Hebrew, not to mention words in other languages. It sometimes takes a fair bit of expertise to evaluate a typo and determine a fix.
  5. Some typos are even carried over from the print edition. Sometimes, the correct spelling is obvious. But other times fixing a typo forces us to make a subjective editorial call. The line between fixing a typo and editing the text is often fuzzy. In general, we don’t fix typos where the meaning is ambiguous. We’d rather perpetuate the error in the print edition than risk saying something the author didn’t intend to say.

In other words, we left 1,304 reported typos in the text for one of the following two reasons:

  1. After some research, we discovered the typos weren’t typos after all; they were incorrectly reported to us as typos.
  2. The typo carried over from the print edition, and fixing it would have forced us to make an editorial decision.

Updating links and fixing typos represents a fraction of the work that goes into updating a resource, but this should illustrate a few of the things we look at when we’re working to improve your resources.

RD3

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 5:11 PM

RayDeck3:
this should illustrate a few of the things we look at when we’re working to improve your resources.

Thank you for that information. Very impressive.

RayDeck3:
You’d be surprised how many typo reports we get from users in the U.K. who think we’ve misspelled “center.”

Perhaps they need to learn American English Big Smile

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Don Awalt | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 5:15 PM

I got this update, thank you! WBC is the commentary set I go to most often these days.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 5:23 PM

Yes, thank you. This is much appreciated.

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Steve Maling | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:01 PM

Indeed it is appreciated, greatlyBig Smile

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:09 PM

Thanks for that explanation, Ray. It is very interesting to see that data to get an idea of how many typo reports you receive. And I'm very impressed with how many of them have been fixed for this commentary set. Great work, text editors!

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Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 6:11 PM

RayDeck3:

  1.  ....users in the U.K. who think we’ve misspelled .

And, of course those who are convinced you've misspelt "misspelled".

"I read dead people..."

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Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 12 2014 9:28 PM

Way to go, Ray & team.

It's great seeing Logos responding to us users.
And your information re typos is good feedback for us too.

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 8:43 AM

Ray, 

Thanks to the whole team that does this kind of work. And this write up really helps me understand the process.  

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Kenneth Neighoff | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 9:24 AM

thanks for this update

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 9:40 AM

Brother Mark:

RayDeck3:

  1.  ....users in the U.K. who think we’ve misspelled .

And, of course those who are convinced you've misspelt "misspelled".

Yes

And a big thanks to Logos for the update. I'm glad of the typo updates, but even more glad of the additional links. I can see that there are new links to JBL, for example. If you write this up as a blog post, I'd be interested in seeing some examples/stats of those extra links.

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Lewis Harper | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 9:43 AM

thanks for this update

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Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 11:25 AM

I'd be happy to make those subjective editorial calls for you if you'd like. I'm really good at it. Smile

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RayDeck3 | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 12:48 PM

But there was more to the update than just typo repair. The whole write-up is on the blog.

RD3

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Veli Voipio | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 1:00 PM

Yes

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 1:14 PM

RayDeck3:

But there was more to the update than just typo repair. The whole write-up is on the blog.

Well-Done!    Ray!    Well-Done, indeed!                                Thanks to Logos!                   Thanks ultimately to the Lord of Grace!   

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Alan Macgregor | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 4:38 PM

Jack Caviness:
Perhaps they need to learn American English

I've been learning American English on these forums and I'm getting better. It is certainly a strange dialect of English; but then so is Scots English and I've been writing and speaking it as my first language for years.

RayDeck3:
this should illustrate a few of the things we look at when we’re working to improve your resources.

Thanks for the improved functionality, Ray.

Every blessing

Alan

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 5:59 PM

Alan Macgregor:
I've been learning American English on these forums and I'm getting better.

We just kinda wear on people Big Smile {kinda ORIGIN early 20th cent. originally US}

Alan Macgregor:
It is certainly a strange dialect of English

Then there is Southern American English—which is the most pure form. Then there is New England American English—especially that spoken in Maine, which is truly unique Geeked

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alabama24 | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 6:15 PM

Jack Caviness:
Then there is Southern American English—which is the most pure form.

Ain't that the truth y'all. Big Smile

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David J. Wilson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 13 2014 7:12 PM

Jack Caviness:

Then there is Southern American English—which is the most pure form. Then there is New England American English—especially that spoken in Maine, which is truly unique Geeked

And then there are those of us who read "Southern American English" to mean that spoken with an Latin American accent by those from south of Panama....   difficult to say that the English spoken by our neighbours in Maine is unique, did you mean southern Maine or northern Maine ? For a truly "unique" English try conversing with someone from Cape Breton..... Smile

On a more serious note: given the practice of leaving the authors original "potential" typos to avoid removing a possibly intended ambiguity, what do you think might have been the impact of such "typos" in the original Greek ? Surely Greek in NT times was no more uniform than our English of today, and subsequent scribes copying the originals would have done what if they came across a spelling that seemed to them a little "odd" ? Perhaps a cause for some of the differences that exist between ancient manuscript copies, is the same as we experience today when dealing with real or apparent English "typos".

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