Hello and welcome to Words to the Wise. I’m Pete Musto. In the studio with me is Learning English intern Olivia.
Can you tell everybody where and what you are studying?
I am studying journalism at the University of Missouri.
So, Olivia has been hard at work in her three days here! She has written a piece about an unusual map of the United States. Why is it special, Olivia?
Well, Google published a map that shows all of the states in America, but it does not include their names. Instead, the state is identified with the word its population seems to have difficulty spelling.
How in the world would Google find that out?
Good question. Google examined the search term “how to spell.” The word that came up the most for each state became that state’s most commonly misspelled word.
Ok, so I will need some examples.
Of course! Let’s take a word that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “very attractive in a physical way.” It is similar to pretty.
That’s right. But you might find it spelled B-I-U-T-I-F-U-L or B-E-U-T-I-F-U-L in New York, California, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan! Those five states requested the spelling of beautiful from Google more than any other word.
OK. I can understand the mistake. Many people say the word like that first misspelling “bee-you-tee-full.” And the second one was so close to correct – just missing an “a.”
Another word commonly misspelled is "pneumonia." Maine, Alabama, Michigan and Washington all have trouble with that one.
Well, it is spelled p-n-e-u-m-o-n-i-a. It is hard because the “p” is silent. Plus, it is easy to mix up the order of “n-e-u.”
True. I don’t think you can make fun of anyone having trouble with that word.
But, Olivia, there is one state that is probably getting some friendly teasing about its word. Tell us…what was the most commonly searched for spelling in Wisconsin.
I’ll spell it for you: W-I-S-C-O-N-S-I-N!
Wow! Poor Wisconsin. That has to be tough to live with!
So, what are some of the words you think are understandably difficult to spell?
Well, probably the most famous is “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It is a made up word - 34 letters long - and it is the longest word on Google’s map. It comes from a song in the movie Mary Poppins.
I’m not sure if that one is even in most dictionaries!
Another sort-of funny misspelling came from South Dakota. People there have trouble with the word “college.”
Guess they need to go to spelling school!
Another word on Google’s America’s Most Misspelled Words map is "Chihuahua." That one covers the states of South Carolina and Arizona. In Delaware and Indiana the winning word is “hallelujah.” And people in Arizona and Colorado most often Google the spelling for “tomorrow.”
Google released the map during the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
I bet none of those words were even part of the competition there.
Well, thanks a lot for the report, Olivia!
You are very W-E-L-C-O-M-E, Pete.
To our fans out there, we want to know what you thought of this Words to the Wise and what you‘d like us to talk about in the future.
I’m Pete Musto.
And I’m Olivia Liu.
Olivia Liu wrote this Words to the Wise. Caty Weaver and Mario Ritter were the editors.
Words in This Story
attractive - adj. having a pleasing appearance
pneumonia - n. a serious disease that affects the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe
Chihuahua - n. type of very small dog with large ears and usually short hair
hallelujah - interjection a shout or song of praise or thanks to God