2018-06-06 / Editorials

Can you spell that?

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

The National Spelling Bee was last week, and in honor of the annual event, Google released a map showing the most misspelled word in each state.

As it turns out, the kids in the spelling bee are much better spellers than the people who use Google as a dictionary. Karthik Nemmani, an eighth grader from Texas, successfully spelled “aver,” “paucispiral,” “ankyloglossia,” “haecceitas” and finally “koinonia” to win the bee.

On the other hand, people using Google have trouble spelling “solution,” “favorite,” “probably” and “beginning.” According to the map, people were most curious about how to spell “beautiful.” It was the most misspelled word in 11 states.

In Georgia, the most misspelled word was — and I’m not making this up — “supercalifragilist icexpialidocious,” though for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many people needed to use this word.

I thought supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was a word made up for the 1964 movie “Mary Poppins.” All I really knew about the word was that even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious.

But it turns out it is an actual English word that originated two decades earlier. It means “extraordinarily good; wonderful.”

I’ll be honest here. I wouldn’t have been able to spell any of the words the spelling bee kid spelled. But I can proudly say that I can easily spell all the words on the Google map, and that includes supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I spelled it out (singing the “Mary Poppins” song in my head) as I thought it should be spelled, and then I looked it up to make sure I was right. I was.

I’m not always a great speller. Ironically, the word I most often misspell is “misspell.” I usually only put one “s” in it. It’s funny to me that word would be one of the toughest for me to spell correctly. I struggle with “misspell,” but I can spell “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Words are weird.

When I do need to know how to spell a word, I don’t use Google. I’m old-fashioned. I have an old copy of Webster’s New World College Dictionary that I’ve had since college. It sits within arm’s reach of me when I’m writing, and I use it often when I’m not sure how to spell a word.

But apparently people would rather go to Google than the dictionary. Thus, Google’s list of misspelled words.

I guess it’s a good thing that the word Georgians most misspell is a difficult word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. We’ve stepped up our game, at least. A year ago on the Google map, Georgia’s most misspelled word was “gray.” Seriously.

There were a couple of words on the Google map that made me laugh. In Alabama, the most misspelled word is “cousin.” In North Dakota, miles from a coastline, the most misspelled word was “yacht.” I guess North Dakotans get wishful during the six months of the year the ground is covered with snow. The most misspelled word in Maine was “Connecticut,” but the most misspelled word in Connecticut wasn’t “Maine.” It was “sincerely. ”

And the poor people of Iowa apparently never learn. For the second year, their most misspelled word was “vacuum.”

I suppose I should thank Google for this information. It’s a good thing to know what words we struggle with. In fact — now that I know how to spell it — I should say the map is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/mitch.

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