or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Picture This

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, an American politician tried to position himself as a Christian, anti-gay, law-and-order type through a dreadfully written and worse-illustrated comic book. It's heartening to read today that he came third in a three-way race. Perhaps it was because voters got one glimpse of that typo-laden graphic atrocity and saw him for the dimwit he clearly must be, or perhaps it's because he's also scheduled for a court hearing tomorrow on charges of campaign corruption. Either way, the electorate wins!


Sometimes you see a particular kind of spelling mistake and you can't tell if it's a typo or if the writer honestly doesn't know the correct word. Here's a sentence from an article in the surprisingly interesting journal Cosmetic/Personal Care Packaging (all kinds of information you probably didn't know about the manufacturing of bottles and boxes and sprayers and such):

The image is first printed on special printing paper and then transferred to the label using a die sublimation press.

I can't quite convince myself it's a typographical error. The "i" and the "y" are pretty far apart on the keyboard. I think it's much more likely, unfortunately, that the writer had never seen the term "dye sublimation" in print, and hadn't thought about the possible meaning of the phrase, and actually thought it was "die sublimation".

It isn't, though. Dye sublimation is a printing process often used for photographs in which solid dyes--deposited initially on a sort of broad typewriter ribbon--are quickly raised to a high temperature, causing them to convert instantly from a solid to a gas without the intermediate liquid stage (that's the sublimation) in transferring them to the surface to be printed. You can buy dye-sublimation printers for home use, too, mostly as small-scale photo printers. Since they actually do use dye and not ink, they're often used to print colour images on washable fabric.


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