500 Mistakes of Daily Occurrence online

Yesterday, completely by chance, I came across a digitised version of the anonymous usage guide (also included in the HUGE database) called 500 Mistakes of Daily Occrrence (1856). The site operates wonderfully, and the document is fully searchable (but still attributed to Walton Burgess). The most amazing discovery though, was that while my own copy is green, this one is red! Would there be any other colours, I wonder?

500-mistakes-red-and-greenAnd here is yet another one, found on archive.org (number 452), more beautifully executed:


On the book’s authorship, however, see:

Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid (2015). Five Hundred Mistakes Corrected: An Early American English Usage Guide. In: Marina Dossena (ed.),Transatlantic Perspectives of Late Modern English. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 55-71.

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7 Responses to 500 Mistakes of Daily Occurrence online

  1. adrianstenton says:

    My digital copy, from http://www.archive.org, seems to have a black cover!

  2. Paul Nance says:

    My copy is also green, but the edition otherwise is identical to the red copy on archive.org: same blind-stamping front (gilded) and back, identical publication and copyright information, and exactly the same advertisements on the end-papers and following page 73.

  3. Paul Nance says:

    While Five Hundred Mistakes is one of the earliest usage guide published in the United States, it was not received uncritically. In the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for 18 April 1856, an anonymous reviewer (probably the editor, since the review appears just below the masthead) takes on the guide, declaring the author “one of the most thorough and unmitigated blockheads that ever rushed to print,” and the guide “unmitigated trash.” Not restricting himself to generalizations, the reviewer evaluates six of the mistakes, and finds all the proposed solutions wrongheaded or useless. The reviewer also suggests an avenue for further research on the guide’s history, claiming that all of its accurate corrections “are copied from the notes to Murray’s rules of Syntax.”

  4. Paul Nance says:

    Correction to the above: the review (titled “‘Five Hundred Mistakes Corrected’ — or the Blind Leading the Blind”) was printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for 16 April 1856.

  5. Fascinating: this also tells us that Five Hundred Mistakes was published in the early months of 1856.

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