Artful Misspelling

photo-1508666709797-f0bb3d96324dOr should it be titled Artphul Messpelling? No. There’s a limit. You have to know the limit. If you go too far, your artfulness will dwindle and your annoyance will sky-rocket.

Last time, I focused my efforts for China. This time I hope I can benefit the good people of Czechoslovakia. I’m not sure why really. I just have a gut feeling that someone there wants to learn English, and how to mess with the language artfully.

First let’s look at a word that isn’t a word at all.

Phonetically it’s spelled o-k-a-y. Some artful cadgers insist on spelling it Capital O, Capital K, like this: OK. Personally, I think that spelling is the goofiest way to spell okay. For one thing, do you have to shout it every time? When we capitalize words it means we want them shouted. So you’d be reading along and someone wants to suggest calm and assurance, and they say, “I’m breathing on my own now, everything’s good and healthy and OK!” Doesn’t that throw your sense of calm right out the window? How about a sentence like this: “OK,” he whispered. Even without an exclamation point, it’s absurd. To make the whole idea of okay more confusing, the dictionary offers an etymology that tells you the idea of okay came from a misspelling. They claim it comes from a newspaper editor purposefully misspelling “all correct” as “oll korrect”. So there you go. That has to be one of the most pervasive misspellings ever, wouldn’t you say?

One of my favorite misspellings comes from the band Skinny Puppy who spelled the word political as Politikil; that seems appropriate to me. As if you might engage in politics and ensure your early demise.

One of the most misspelled words is the word awkward. Ha!

Aluminium has been changed to aluminum, but how many people who use the new spelling even care?

What’s the difference between an elbogen and an elbow? You can hear either one within a day’s train ride.

Esquimeaux (Eskimo) is a word that begged to be spelled a different way. So is Technique (Technic, or Tekneek?). Speaking of French, any French word is fair game for respelling. Have fun changing them. Monologue, dialogue, and epilogue, can all lose the final u-e, and look like sleek, updated, and modern words. See?: monolog, dialog, epilog. Forget that excessive lettering, unless you’re too stuck up to make changes.

Yoghourt. Now there’s a funny word. It’s not French. But it still has more letters than it needs. Yogurt is much easier to stomach.

People say “skizzurs” all the time, when they want to pretend they’re less intelligent than they really are. But I don’t see any problem with spelling it that way all the time. (Scissors versus Skizzurs, you decide.)

All the e-i and i-e words are difficult to remember anyway, so go ahead and spell them however you want. Some of them include: hygiene, seize, chief, weird, and receipt.

Some of my pet peeves are the words that start with g-u. Guacamole is the exception. That word actually sounds the way it’s spelled. Guard though, is spelled like as if some pot smoker made it into a seat in parliament and started demanding that French spellings start eking their way into the English language. (I made that up, so don’t go repeating my fake history mentions as if they were facts.) So what’s really wrong with g-a-r-d? That would make everyone’s day a little easier. And that historical pot-head can stay as dead as his head was while he lived (in my imagination). Guest and guess are two more words that make more sense without the silent u. Guerrilla on the other hand, I don’t know exactly what to do with that one. I’ll let you play with it.

I’m sure you can think of more words that could be spelled differently, or even better. Or you’ll find some in your travels. Have fun making art of words.

Uvidi pozadi, Czechoslovakia. 🙂

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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