“Aargh!” But how do you spell it?
(Click here to skip straight to the visualization.)
In the late nineties, I tried using internet search as a spelling corrector. (I think I was using AltaVista at the time. It was the latest and greatest search engine, supplanting — was it Lycos?)
At the time, for the words I tried, there were about two orders of magnitude between a misspelling and the correct word. A spelling variant, such as “color” and “colour”, were typically less than one order of magnitude.
In 2002 I used Google to figure out the most common spelling for “closable”, for use in the OpenLaszlo API. It had been “closeable”; why use a spelling that most people would guess wrong the first time, I figured. [Update: This paragraph originally said the word was “resizeable”, which is a straightforward misspelling.]
Here’s what this looks like today. First, a common misspelling:
And a couple of spelling variants:
(The percentage is the ratio of the page count to the page count of the most common variant, which is the form in bold above it.)
Some other misspellings:
And some other acceptable variants:
(What’s the difference between an acceptable variant, and a misspelling? An interesting topic for another posting. Maybe.)
What got me thinking about this again, was, of all things, thinking about how to spell “aargh!” One ‘a’, two, three…? And how many ‘r’s?
This is an interesting problem, first, because so many repetition counts are attested. There’s not just “mispelling” (1s) and “misspelling” (2s), but “argh”, “aargh”, “aaargh”, etc. And second, because the space is two-dimensional: not just “argh”, “aargh”, “aaargh”, …, but also “argh”, “arrgh”, “arrrgh”, … — and the product, with “aarrgh”, “aaarrrgh”, etc.
It’s clear that a wide range of spellings are acceptable. What’s the most common?
Without further ado, I created this page to help me find the answer.