10 Deliberately Misspelled Words
If all English speakers left school having mastered English spelling conventions, the deliberate misspellings seen in movie titles and various products might not bother me as much as they do.
As it is, I dread the effect of the relentless modeling of incorrect spellings in the marketplace. Here are ten of these deliberate misspellings.
Biutiful is the title of a 2010 movie starring Javier Bardem. The dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles, but biutiful isn’t a correct spelling in Spanish either.
Simon Sez is a 1999 comedy starring Dennis Rodman.
Director Quinton Tarantino was asked more than once to explain why he decided to misspell the title of his 2009 movie as Inglourious Basterds. On one occasion, he called the misspelling “a Basquiat-esque touch.” On the David Letterman Show, he said the misspelled title “is a Quentin Tarantino spelling.”
Correctly spelled, Inglorious Bastards is the English title of a 1978 Italian movie directed by Enzo G. Castellari. The Italian title is Quel maledetto treno blindato, “That Damned Armored Train.”
Note: Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist who often misspelled words in his graffiti-esque drawings.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 movie starring Will Smith. The misspelling in the title replicates a misspelled day-care sign. This title is especially pernicious because it reinforces what is already a common misspelling.
The 2015 installment of the Terminator movies uses this misspelling as its title.
The 1989 movie Pet Sematary is based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name. The misspelling in the title derives from a sign lettered by children. Like happiness, cemetery is a frequently misspelled word.
An early steam-propelled automobile manufactured by the Stanley Motor Carriage Company (1902-1924) was known as “the Stanley Steamer.” A carpet-cleaning company founded in 1947 adopted the name “Stanley Steemer” as a play on the well-known name for the car; the company cleans carpets with a process referred to as “steam cleaning.”
Various companies use this spelling for products. Two examples are Miller Lite (a beer) and Lite-Brite (a light-box toy). Note: Brite is a nonstandard spelling of bright.
Several words that begin with the sound /k/, but which are spelled with the letter c, are popular targets for misspelling. For example: Krispy Kreme, Rice Krispies.
A line of Nabisco snack crackers uses this misspelling: Chicken in a Biskit.
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7 Responses to “10 Deliberately Misspelled Words”
Then you have the intentionally misspelled teenage and wannabe teenage words boi and grill. Grrr.
Interesting. I’d assumed Genisys was the name of some evil corporation that I’d missed or forgotten during the 30-year run of the Terminator saga. I see in the LA Times that this time it’s not my fading memory: it’s part of the intrigue of the latest installment!
Maybe Genisys is a new type of Terminator, in which case it is not necessary a misspelling but effectively a brand – which as has been pointed out is often a purposeful misspelling for trademark purposes. If the movie on the other hand goes all the way back in time to the start of the terminator timeline then yes, genesis might be correct.
Along the same lines as Michael’s comment, there are cases where by misspelling the title of a product, the product avoids having to include some ingredient. The example often cited is Froot Loops. If the name was spelled correctly, then the product would have to contain real fruit. By misspelling the word, they can use artificial ingredients instead.
Michael W. Perry
Those creating these misspellings may not mention it, but there could be legal reasons. Many of these misspellings are for items that are likely to be trademarked. Adopted a non-standard spelling or capitalization makes getting that trademark easier since it’s less likely to be seen as clashing with existing common-law trademarks.
For instance, there may already be pet cemeteries named “Pet Cemetery.” Creating a book and movie called “Pet Semetary” avoids that clash. The sign lettered by children simply provides an excuse.
A familiar one to British eyes is the misspelling in Scott’s Porage Oats.