On the subject of typos in books and journal articles, there are some with obvious causes and some without. Of the ones without, substitution of one letter in a word by another with a similar shape is the most frequent. By this I mean that ‘h’ appears in a word in place of ‘b,’ ‘c’ instead of ‘e,’ and even, as I saw today, ‘r’ instead of ‘x.’ While I can see how an untrained machine converting handwritten letters to print could make such errors, I’m fairly certain that modern publishing companies do not create typed versions of written works by having a computer attempt to translate some guy’s erratic handwriting. Nor is it likely that translations from faded print text to new print text are performed on old works.
So how are ‘h’ and ‘b’ confused? I suppose those two letters are fairly close on a QUERTY keyboard, but ‘r’ and ‘x’ are located in opposite directions from the home row, as are ‘c’ and ‘e.’ Furthermore, although these pairs are composed of letters similar in shape, they are by no means so similar that they could be interchanged and still escape the notice of a decent editor.
Unless this is some sort of game played by publishers, I can’t imagine how these errors occur. I have heard that people are capable of reading words with scrambled letters, so long as the first and last letters are in their proper places. Even so, to do such a thing would be idiotic.
I don’t suppose that an editor would enjoy reading Quine so much that the actual editing of his papers would be neglected.
This is as much a question as it is a quick comment, since I know far too little about the publishing process to speculate further as to the explanation for this strange occurrence. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.