deliberate misspellings

Charles Wells charles at FREUDE.COM
Mon Mar 26 20:17:40 UTC 2001

A very old deliberate misspelling in a product name was Duz, a detergent.
Their slogan was "Duz does everything".  This dates to at least the 1950's.
(In the 1950's, I would have said "That dates to at least the 1950's").

A related phenomenon that is very old is misspelling of a foreign word (usually
name) in order to get people to pronounce it correctly.  For example, Wedo is a
family name in northern Ohio, originally Guido.  I believe I have detected a
second generation such misspelling.  The Yiddish word that is pronounced
roughly "shay-na" (meaning beautiful) was used as a girl's name, speelled in
English Shana. (It is cognate to the German "schoene".) In the 50's the typical
American would have pronounced this "shay-na".  In this decade many people,
especially educated ones, are likely to pronounce it "shah-na".  Recently I
have seen it spelled Shaina, presumably as a correction.  Of course, this story
I have spun will require citations to verify it.

>Has anyone written about deliberate misspellings and letter substitutions,
>especially in Hip Hop-influenced culture? I'm not asking about "eye dialect"
>(at least I don't think I am), but rather, for example, about substituting Z
>for S (skillz, boyz) and other kinds of respellings (stoopid, sucka).
>Companies have been doing this for years to gain attention (from Beanz Meanz
>Heinz to Miller Lite), but has anyone looked into the history of deliberate
>misspellings in Hip Hop and possibly in earlier AAVE?

Charles Wells, 105 South Cedar St., Oberlin, Ohio 44074, USA.
email: charles at
home phone: 440 774 1926.
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