Friday, June 02, 2017

Not really America's most misspelled words

Google Trends has just tweeted out a list of what it calls "America's most misspelled words". It's a pretty strange and alarming list:
  • Alabama: Pneumonia 
  • Alaska: Schedule
  • Arizona: Tomorrow 
  • Arkansas: Chihuahua 
  • California: Beautiful  
  • Colorado: Tomorrow 
  • Connecticut: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious  
  • Delaware: Hallelujah 
  • District of Columbia: Ninety  
  • Florida: Receipt 
  • Georgia: Gray 
  • Hawaii: People 
  • Idaho: Quote 
  • Illinois: Appreciate 
  • Indiana: Hallelujah
  • Iowa: Vacuum
  • Kansas: Diamond 
  • Kentucky: Beautiful
  • Louisiana: Giraffe 
  • Maine: Pneumonia
  • Maryland: Special 
  • Massachusetts: License
  • Michigan: Pneumonia
  • Minnesota: Beautiful
  • Mississippi: Nanny
  • Missouri: Maintenance
  • Montana: Surprise
  • Nebraska: Suspicious
  • Nevada: Available
  • New Hampshire: Diarrhea
  • New Jersey: Twelve
  • New Mexico: Banana
  • New York: Beautiful
  • North Carolina: Angel
  • North Dakota: Dilemma
  • Ohio: Beautiful
  • Oklahoma: Patient
  • Oregon: Pneumonia
  • Pennsylvania: Sauerkraut
  • Rhode Island: Liar
  • South Carolina: Chihuahua
  • South Dakota: College
  • Tennessee: Chaos
  • Texas: Maintenance
  • Utah: Disease
  • Vermont: Europe
  • Virginia: Delicious
  • Washington: Sense
  • West Virginia: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
  • Wisconsin: Wisconsin
  • Wyoming: Priority
First, though, bear in mind that these are not subjects being researched on Google. In fact, what it really is is a list of words gathered from Google searches for "how to spell" in each of the 50 states. So they are more words that Americans are uncertain about, rather than words they actually get wrong or words that are routinely misspelled in search requests (which would perhaps be more interesting and illuminating).
So, it's not necessarily the case that people from Arkansas are obsessed with chihuahuas (although that MAY be the case), or Pennsylvanians with sauerkraut (which would be even stranger). These are specifically requests for how to spell words, which makes me think that most of them were probably requested by schoolkids writing essays or something of that sort (at least I hope so). Presumably someone typed in "how to spell newmonia", for example, and waited for Google to politely suggest "Did you mean how to spell pneumonia?"
But it does nevertheless still raise a whole host of questions and concerns. For instance, why are so many people in Connecticut and West Virginia concerned with the spelling of a nonsense song from a 1960s Disney movie? Why do so many people from Wisconsin have problems spelling their own state name? How many different ways ARE there to spell "banana" or "angel"? And what is it with Pennsylvania and sauerkraut anyway?
And what's wrong with using a dictionary?

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