Do you often face a problem with certain spellings? You may not actually be as stupid as you think you are. We’re not saying it, research proves it. Researchers for the Collins dictionary in Britain claim that we end up misspelling a number of words simply because we are too clever.
The team of researchers conducting this novel study found that being too clever makes you assume certain spellings and you often misspell “confusing” words. The most common English word spelt incorrectly in published documents and on the internet is supersede according to the researchers. Innumerable smarties spell the word as supercede because of our knowledge of the other words like intercede or precede.
Ian Brookes, the Managing Editor of Dictionaries at Collins, commented, “The real spelling problems occur when people have learnt the rules or have a bit of knowledge, but make mistakes in how they apply this”
Many a times we are tempted to use our experience of spelling words and follow the same theory with other spellings as well. That’s how we come a cropper with words like consensus, liquefy and sacrilegious. The researchers revealed scores of such examples after an analysis of thousands of documents. The spelling mistakes were picked up through a software program designed to do so.
Researchers suggest that though ‘supersede’ was wrongly spelt only one out of ten times, it was by far the most commonly misspelt word. They assert that we frequently spell ‘consensus’ incorrectly because we are under an impression that it relates to the word census which comes from the Latin censere, to assess. We are tempted to misspell ‘liquefy’ because we may wrongly apply the spelling of liquid. The same theory applies for words like sacrilegious and inoculate which we often misspell as sacreligious and innoculate.
The Spelling Society had conducted a survey in May and had surprising results. More than half the adults were unable to spell words such as embarrassed, liaison or millennium while more than a quarter struggled to spell definitely, accidentally and separate.
The study further suggests that a common reason for misspelling words is when words are spelt differently from their pronunciation or have their origin in a foreign language.