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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Thursday, June 19, 2003

On Walter, Chicago and Britney...

There are over 70 variants of the spelling of the surname of the Elizabethan adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh, including Rawleyghe, Raylygh, Rawley, Wrawly and so on. It seems to have been pronounced to rhyme with Dolly rather than Sally. Walter himself used Ralegh, which historians are latterly coming round to using. He also gave his name, indirectly, to the uncommon term 'switter-swatter' meaning hanky-panky. It is said that the knight was pleasuring a young lady against a tree when, in her rising passion, she began to repeat the words 'Sweet Sir Walter!' with increasing speed until they became 'switter-swatter, switter-swatter'.

When it comes to the spelling of the place name Chicago, there may be over a hundred early variants. Because the name was based on a hard-to-pronounce Algonquin Indian word meaning 'place of onions', there were many French and English attempts at phonetic spelling, leading to all those unusual variants...

...which is how it still is today with Miss Britney Spears. This list compiled by Google shows misspelled versions of the vedette's name over a period of just a few months. Of course, soon, we will all be spelling her name W-H-O-?, which will be easier.

Source: by RcL

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