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I often write and see written something like "Fix typo" in commit messages, when the fix was not in fact for a "typographical error". It might have been a duplicate word, a small grammatical problem (perhaps have/has, they're/their), an awkward construction, or a mistaken identifier. Is there a good, compact word or phrase that would describe this more accurately, but perhaps isn't as pretentious and hollow as "Fix minor linguistic problems"?

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Actually, I would include duplicate words and homonym mistakes (they're/their, its/it's) as typos - they're cases where our fingers can't keep up with our brain, or is that vice versa. Basically, if it's something the original writer would have corrected if he'd had more time for/had paid more attention to proofreading, then it's a typo. –  Marthaª Jan 20 '11 at 20:17
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+1 I say this all the time when editing on StackOverflow –  Josh Jan 20 '11 at 22:35
    
braino? perhaps ;) –  jk. Jan 26 '11 at 14:50
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@Martha: You comment should really be an answer - certainly, it's an answer that I would vote for. I understand the difference between 'their' and 'there', but the neurons that control my fingers don't communicate well with neurons that hold my thoughts. –  CJM Jan 26 '11 at 17:28

10 Answers 10

up vote 11 down vote accepted
+50

For a single generic phrasing, I'd suggest "correct text".

For more specific commit messages, "fix grammar", "fix spelling", "re-word message", or "rewrite text" could all be used.

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maybe "recheck grammar" would sound nicer (if that's what you're shooting for) –  advs89 Jan 20 '11 at 20:16
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But then you'd just check and not correct. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 20 '11 at 22:45
    
Well sure it's less explicit but you would have to be a pretty pathetic employee to find a mistake and not correct it. –  advs89 Jan 21 '11 at 3:59
    
Couldn't "correct text" be (mis)interpreted as "well done, the text is correct and free from error". –  RedGrittyBrick Jan 21 '11 at 18:17
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In isolation, it could be taken that way, but in context as a commit message, which is a brief explanation of a change you've just made, nobody would read it that way; you don't commit a change in order to say "nothing needed changing." –  Hellion Jan 21 '11 at 19:30

How about a simple 'Fix error'?

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What about mistake? Is it appropriate here? –  Oleh Prypin Jan 20 '11 at 20:21
    
Yes, that would work. –  user3444 Jan 20 '11 at 22:13
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In the context of a commit message, which is used when keeping track of changes to a source code repository, I'd have to say that "Fix Error" is entirely too generic, as you could be fixing an off-by-one index error in a loop, or a memory leak error, or a segmentation fault error, or any of limitless other code-based errors, instead of simply tweaking some textual display issue. –  Hellion Jan 20 '11 at 22:58

The word "typo" is also used as a euphemism for any kind of writing error, especially for grammar errors, because hitting the wrong key is much less humiliating than making an error in grammar. It can be a subtle way of teaching someone a rule of grammar, assuming that he will think "huh?" and look it up if the rule is not mentioned.

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I agree. While typos were originally mechanical errors, or error made in setting types, the current usage suggest that typo covers pretty much every minor language error, particularly when it is due to a lack of attention rather than a lack of knowledge. –  Sylverdrag Jan 28 '11 at 16:50

I would say "Copy-edit".

(Extra text to make my answer long enough to be accepted)

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  • Core ect clum sines
  • Corect clumsines
  • Corretc clumsines
  • Correct clumsiness
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Correct a misspelling maybe?

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"Correct the grammatos in this for me please" could be what you are looking for.

Word: Grammato

Example: Fix this grammato for me, will you?

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It sounds good while saying it too. Grammato. :D –  Arjun J Rao Jan 26 '11 at 15:16
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it sounds tasty. –  Stephen Furlani Jan 26 '11 at 15:52
    
You say it's a grammayto, I say it's a grammahto... –  user867 Aug 13 '13 at 7:38

As requested, adding this as an answer:

Actually, I would include duplicate words and homonym mistakes (they're/their, its/it's) as typos - they're cases where our fingers can't keep up with our brain, or is that vice versa. Basically, if it's something the original writer would have corrected if he'd had more time for/had paid more attention to proofreading, then it's a typo.

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In the specific context of a checkin statement, words don't always mean the same thing as they would in a conversation or a contract. To a developer, "typo" means any time the letters on the screen don't match the thought in the head. Whether that's because the fingers got out of sync and you typed "teh" for "the", or a momentary brain-freeze had you typing "there" for "their", or even that you personally are sure it's "seperator" even though everyone else writes "separator", they are all likely to be lumped together as typos. When a checkin comment says "fix typos" I know that it means there is no deep meaning to look for here, just somebody tweaking a comment or an error message or the like.

My favourite checkin comment ever, btw, was "fix tyos". Not deliberate either. Just someone in a hurry :-)

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Copyedit as (nearly) suggesed in Colin Fine's answer is good. Also perhaps the briefer emend.

Another word I've seen used for something written in haste so it comes out wrong is thinko.

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