Double Braino

Typographical Error
Typographical Error (Photo credit: futuraprime)

You will find errors in these posts, I’m sure, despite my best efforts. I’ve found some already and corrected them. One was a real doosey.

I found that where I had intended to write “loses sight”, I had written “looses site.”

Ouch!  Right there, staring at me: a double braino. (And here I am blogging about writing. Talk about major, major embarrassment!)

I’m trying for a neologism here with “braino”.  Maybe even an internet meme. (That would be really cool, but of course it assumes that someone actually reads this…)

A braino, you see, is intended to be somewhat similar to a typo. Both are inadvertent errors and not, I repeat, not, misspellings.

A misspelling happens, for example, when a person believes that he/she knows how to spell something and is simply wrong. Or alternatively it could happen when a person simply does not know how to spell a word, and makes a good-faith conscious effort, but unfortunately doesn’t get it right.

In the case of typos and brainos, the person does in fact know how to spell the word, but a glitch occurs somewhere in the process that begins with retrieval of the word from the memory banks and carries on through to the mechanical movements of the fingers that get the word typed onto the page, (or keyboarded onto the screen, or whatever).

Typos, of course, occur in the typing process. The movement of a finger is made inaccurately and the wrong key is struck, or rapid-fire sequences of finger movements are made in the wrong order with a similar result.

Brainos are errors that occur further upstream. Although the person knows what he or she means, the brain retrieves the wrong word and sends incorrect information to the fingers, which accurately type the incorrect information. How exactly does that happen? Well, I’m not sure, but I think that my typing “loose” instead of “lose” may relate to the fact that “lose” ought to be spelled “looze” – phonetically speaking. The sound of the word suggests the double “o.” As for “site” instead of “sight,” well, I had been dealing with a number of web-sites that day and thinking about how this site differed from that site. I think I may have just had site on the brain.

The spelling of “braino,” of course, reminds one of “typo,” and it’s meant to. This neologism is formed by analogy. It’s not a really good analogy, however, since “typo” is short for typographical error and there is no corresponding “brainological error” – nor, in fact, any such word as “brainological.” If braino were to become popular and the usage of “brainological” or “brainological error” were to subsequently appear, that would be an example of the linguistic phenomenon known as back-formation.

(And now I’m sure you know way more about this subject than you ever wanted to.)

2 Comments

  • crubin

    March 6, 2012 at 9:33 pm Reply

    I like the term “braino”. It makes all those silly mistakes I make seem quite cerebral, as if my mind is so high-functioning that it can’t help but create other language connections. I prefer that much more to the alternative: “Man, I’m getting old.” 🙂

  • Carol Wuenschell

    March 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm Reply

    I know what you mean about the “getting old” part – can really relate to that… But, hey, the brain is all about connections. Someone on the AMWA listserve (American Medical Writers Association) recently said that “loose” instead of “lose” is one of the most frequent word substitution errors she sees. Some of those people may be truly confused about the spelling of the word, but I know I’m not, and I still made the error. I’m sure the phonetics has something to do with it. We are speakers first and writers second, after all.

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