For years I have warned that permitting retail establishments to intentionally misspell words would have dire consequences.
Schoolkids with minds full of mush would grow up confused about what to do with the letter Q. Adults learning English would face difficulties discerning how to spell certain breakfast pastries. Fans of beef and fowl alike would forget how to spell chicken. General havoc and mayhem would ensue.
A recent report by Google about which states need help spelling which words proves my fears were well-founded.
Google is a great help in research, such as “how to spell prestidigitation.” One of the drawbacks, however, is that Google records such things, and now everyone knows what your state’s citizens can’t spell.
Another drawback is the inability to use a dictionary, because, well, you have to have some skill in spelling to find the word you need to spell properly. And, because, well, you have to properly identify a book.
I was interested in the results of two states in Google’s report. I spent most of my life in Alabama, and have recently made Wisconsin home to serve in the pastorate. Given the plethora of jokes about Southern states, and Alabama in particular, I was initially reluctant to look at the report for fear that Alabamians would confirm the stereotype and need the most help spelling Cat, Dog, or Moonshine. I was pleased to learn that Alabamians, unlike neighboring states needing help with gray, is in company with folks from Washington, Michigan, and Maine in searching Google most for pneumonia.
However, it is understandable that people in Washington, Michigan, and Maine would be searching pneumonia. I’m not quite sure why people in Alabama would be…
How do you spell “Wisconsin”?
So the state of my birth fared well. The state of my residence…not so much. It seems that people in Wisconsin need help spelling Wisconsin. To be fair, this might have occurred for a number of reasons.
- First, spelling-challenged visitors frequent the state, so it is possible that tourists from Minnesota and Canada skewed the search results when they wanted to send home postcards and tweets describing where they were.
- Second, Wisconsinites file taxes up until April 15, and theoretically need to order state tax software. Persistent sub-zero temperatures, still prevalent at that time of year, might have frozen the brain’s spelling centers, but citizens retain enough of their wits to neutralize the perils of auto-correct and avoid filing taxes in Whiskey, Wichita, or Weisbaden.
- Third, there might be some emotional aspects at play, here, much like I, the former Alabamian, find myself increasingly reluctant to say “snow,” “wind chill,” and “ice quake,” much less spell them.
- Fourth, regional inflections sometimes cause the state’s name to hit the ear as Wis-cahn-sun, middle syllable accented, and is the same phenomena that led me to think that people selling spring-loaded figurines were peddling “Bible-heads.” This must affect spelling.
How do you spell “Mary Poppins”?
The spelling needs of Alabamians and Wisconsinites aren’t the only interesting things in the report.
Mississippians needed help spelling nanny. One has to wonder what’s going on in Tennessee that caused so many people to seek help spelling chaos. And who knew Mary Poppins was so popular in West Virginia and Connecticut (why didn’t anyone need help spelling that?) that they need help with supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
For Illinois and Delaware, the top spelling search was hallelujah. This might mean that citizens of those states are particularly prone to praise. Or alliteration. It might, however, mean something else, especially for health-conscious, dog-loving, Rueben-sandwich-eating people, as in “Hallelujah! I’m not faced with the dilemma of pneumonia, diarrhea, or some other suspicious disease, and can appreciate chihuahuas, giraffes, and sauerkraut, giving priority to bananas, though they are not equally delicious and none are as beautiful as a diamond. By the way, it’s surprisingly easy to get a receipt for vacuum maintenance in Europe.”
What’s my conclusion from all this? That if you want to spell properly, and keep others from knowing what you need to spell properly, do this:
Rede a buk.