ut the famous mistakes that follow were so big they went down in the history books.
Errors can be very embarrassing, no matter how small. But to err is human, we all make them, there is no male to that, quite the contrary. For example, when you learn a language, it is quite normal to make mistakes and, in fact, it is very often from mistakes that you learn.
Also, and this is very interesting, everyone makes mistakes, but very often we don’t realize it. When we understand that no one is infallible, we more easily accept our own mistakes: it is at this precise moment that we learn.
That’s why we’ve collected 7 famous mistakes here that will bring you some comfort: these are typos that had major consequences, sometimes leading to hilarious misunderstandings, sometimes interrupting nothing less than a space mission!
7 famous mistakes and their consequences
The Bible of Adulterers
Imagine. You are a printer and the King of England has asked you to print the Bible. Now imagine that you are the same printer and you realize that you forgot a “step” in one of the ten commandments. And more precisely, the seventh: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. And so the command ” Thou shalt not commit adultery” became “You must commit adultery.” This rather crude typo obviously led to the withdrawal and destruction of all the Bibles concerned.Some copies have survived, however: 16 Bibles are kept in various libraries (including the New York Public Library and the British Library), others come out of nowhere from time to time: in 2018, a copy of the “Unholy Bible” was sold at Sotheby’s for just over $50,000.
Speaking of typos, one of the most famous mistakes involves a well-known quote by Canadian sociologist Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message,” from his seminal 1964 essay “The Instruments of Communication.” A few years later, McLuhan wrote an experimental book that was supposed to mention this very famous phrase in its title, but due to a typographical error,the title became “The medium is the massage”. But what is surprising is that McLuhan found that the typography was particularly suited to the concept of the work in question, in particular because, according to McLuhan, “The medium is the message” had been so successful that this sentence was become a cliché. In the end, it wasn’t an intentional mistake, but a success: further proof that not all mistakes are fatal.
Very expensive parts
In 2010, Gregorio Iniguez, director of the House of Currency in Chile , became known worldwide for a typo that will go down in history. In minting 1.5 million 50-peso coins, the institution indeed misspelled a word that it really shouldn’t have, and the Chilean state therefore found itself with an avalanche of coins on which was writes “Chiie” instead of “Chile”.
In 1962, at the height of the space race, NASA was planning a mission to obtain more information about Venus. This mission, called Mariner 1, should have been officially launched on July 22 of the same year. The launch did take place, but Mariner 1’s journey to Venus took much less time than expected. In fact, NASA was forced to destroy the device because of a trivial error: a programmer had forgotten to add a dash above a variable, which led to unexpected behavior of the rocket . And that’s how the 19 million spent on the mission went up in smoke because of a single dash.
Words that weren’t
You thought terminologists never make mistakes? Think again. For a few years, the Merriam-Webster, one of the best-selling and most prestigious dictionaries of the English language, had listed a word that did not exist in the English language, “dord”, which, according to lexicographers, means “density” . After a few years, however, someone began to have doubts when they realized that this term had no etymological reference, and the mystery was soon revealed. The editor responsible for the chemistry lexicon had commented on the letter “d” and had written “D or d, cont./density”, i.e. the letter “d” (uppercase or lowercase) represents, among other things, the contracted form of “density “.But those who read the note misunderstood it and understood that “dord” was a synonym for density!
The horns of Moses
If you have visited Rome, you may have had the opportunity to visit the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, which houses one of Michelangelo’s most impressive works, the Moses. And if you have the eye, you may have noticed two horns on the head of Moses. Is everything normal or did Michelangelo want to give a demonic dimension to the prophet? In fact, the horns are an integral part of the iconography relating to the prophet. But there is a very specific reason for this: a translation error. Hebrew having no vowels in its written form, Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible from Hebrew in the 4th century CE, read qérén (“endowed with horns”) instead of qâran(meaning “shining, emanating from light”). Thus, for many centuries, it was believed that Moses, after receiving the tablets of the law from God, descended from Mount Sinai with his face equipped with horns and emanating no light. The error, to tell the truth, was already widely known at the time of Michelangelo, but the iconography had obviously not yet adapted to this change.
James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and “Finnegan’s Wake”
But what is an error, after all? James Joyce, the author of Finnegan’s Wake, must have wondered. In this work, Joyce implemented the technique of stream of consciousness, so much so that “Finnegan’s Wake” is considered one of the most difficult books to translate, if not impossible .to translate. This example is enough to give an idea of its complexity: one day, while Joyce was dictating to Samuel Beckett, someone knocked and the Irish writer said “Come in”. Beckett did not realize that this word was not part of the dictation and reported it along with all the other words Joyce dictated to him. Later, Joyce realized this and decided to keep the mistake. This story has not been confirmed, but Beckett told it this way in an interview: another way of saying that mistakes, invented or not, are worthy of a story and can always teach us something.
We hope this list of famous mistakes has given you some comfort. Try to remember this the next time you speak in a foreign language and you’re afraid of making an embarrassing mistake . No one is immune to mistakes, not even us! As a result, we have deliberately slipped a typo into this article… will you be able to find it?