Zero for Spelling

Zero for Spelling

Photo by Vassil

There is an advertisement for EasyJet on Channel Zero in Spain at the moment which features[1] a drawing[2] of a shopping bag with “Candem Town” in large[3] letters across the side. The north London borough[4] is a great place to go shopping… but it’s not spelt like that! It should be “Camden”. Camden Town was named after[5] a historian, William Camden (1551-1623), a contemporary of Shakespeare’s. Before being William’s surname[6], “Camden” was a toponym[7] (meaning “enclosed[8] valley” from campas denu in Anglo-Saxon). Today “Camden” is also used as a given name[9] in the USA, so it would be theoretically possible to be Camden Camden from Camden!

Other place names that cause spelling problems include: Algeria, Baghdad, Edinburgh, Hawaii, Istanbul, Jerusalem and my favourite, Massachusetts.

[1] to feature – include (prominently)

[2] drawing – illustration, cartoon

[3] large – (false friend) big

[4] boroughdistrict

[5] to name A after B (UK English) – name A for B (US English), give A B’s name to honour B

[6] surnamefamily name

[7] toponym – place name

[8] enclosed – surrounded on all sides (by mountains)

[9] given name – first name, Christian name (old fashioned)

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