Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The common heard

I've committed two embarrassing misspellings lately, both errors more common on Google than the correct spellings. Is this common?

The first was "revere" for a type of collar or lapel. Google threw up 398,000 results for 'rever collar' and 1,310,000 for 'revere collar'. It seems perhaps that amongst tailors and dressmakers, presumably the most frequent users of the term, the longer spelling appears a little more phonetic and thus preferred.

My second such recent mistake was with fettucine. Like revere, I picked up the spelling from a computer wordlist I use when composing crossword puzzles -- clearly not the most reliable source. The correct spelling is fettuccine, but a look at Google showed the single-C version to be more common. What's more, the erroneous spelling is recognised by Chambers.

I have no doubt that the dictionaries will eventually follow usage, even disregarding the sensitivities of the French and Italians, but in the meantime I wonder how many other English words are in a similar imbalance of orthographic usage and correctness.

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