I’m casting a spelling spell on you…

[Alyson Kuhn] On the chic heels of our recent post about the kate spade new york 2010 agenda, I wish to help our readership be on its spelling toes regarding several additional kuhnfusing words. Proper names in particular are often the victims of improper spelling. It’s usually easy to verify the correct spelling with a click of the wrist.

Let’s start with Michael Bierut. When you google Michael Beirut {deliberately misspelled here to make my point}, you are presented with nine suggestions – six for Bierut and three for Beirut. But… at the very top of the current 2,800,000 results, is The Answer. I asked Michael if he could suggest a tip for remembering how to spell his last name, since the standard “I before e except after c” doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. He suggests, “I had a friend who always said ‘It’s i-e-r, as in sexier!’ I like that.” And so do we! The proper Polish pronunciation is a bit persnicketier, but we won’t go there.

Next, in alphabetical order, we see: Biederbeck {Tom}, Biedermeier {Sofa}, Bielenberg {John}. Their names all start Bie and are pronounced bee… Maybe it will amuse you to think, “Tom and John are busy bees. They have no time to lounge on a Biedermeier sofa.”

Before we move on from The B List, I want to mention a fabulous grocery in San Francisco called Bi-Rite. Yes, its name makes me smile with delite. So, now we have Bay, bee, bye… By your leave, I’ll include this delish quote from the Bi-Rite website: The fine arts are five in number, namely: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture, the principal branch of the latter being pastry. – Antonin Careme.

Is all this spelling exercise making you hungry? Do you wish you could have a canapé, or maybe an hors d’oeuvre? I have seen the latter misspelled on so many fancy menus that it makes me apostrophic. I was recently ranting to my friend Kimochi about this, and getting un peu teachy about hors and oeuvre. She replied, “Your french tips are all greek to me! I often resort to elementary school tricks like: Only Eat Until Very Reasonably Exhausted.” Bon! And any other vowel sequence would be Very Unlikely.

We aren’t out of the frying pan quite yet. Let’s briefly kuhntemplate flour and fluorescent. The difference is white as day, right? Well, one dark day, I saw many thousands of pocket folders whose paper ID proclaimed them to have been printed on Flourescent White. A simple spell check would have avoided this. Go with the fluo’!

And, speaking of colors, let’s finish up with palette, palate, and pallet. A palette is a tray for mixing paint; logically, it also refers to a range or combination of colors. A palate is part of a mouth; logically, it also refers to the sense of taste. And a pallet is something on which to sleep or store stuff – though probably not in a palace.

The attentive reader may have noted my use of its twice above. It’s not correct to use an apostrophe for the possessive. It’s kuhnfusing, you say? Think of it this way: my brain, your brain, our brain, his brain, her brain, their brain. Therefore: its brain. It’s not brain surgery!

The B List:  Michael Bierut by Sam Fritch; Tom Biederbeck by Christopher Holbrook; Biedermeier sofa from Biedermeier-Vienna; John Bielenberg by Michael Weymouth.

Typography: Ilene Strizver elevated one little pun into a kuhncept and fabulously finessed our images with ITC American Typewriter® and a dash of Caflish Script™ Pro for the ‘kuhn.’

Alyson Kuhn, the editor of Felt & Wire, has an amusing collection of envelopes with her first name, her last name, or both, misspelled. Remember, that’s K as in chaos.

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by Tomer Guez on 10.20.09 at 6:43 pm

    Ha. Cool. Does spell checking really gets you hungry?

    On the subject, there is a good spell check program Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It works in all programs, including blogs and articles. It comes with an optional grammar check.

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