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Microsoft Wants to Change Your Town’s Name

Published by Steve Campion. Category: HA! List

Have you ever been to Fiercest, Washington? Would you live in a town called Retardant? Would you take a bus to Busload, move to Move, take trips to Trips, or admire Admire? Maybe you would drink at Kahlua’s and picnic at Mealtime Falls.

If you don’t understand that paragraph, run a few Washington town names through Microsoft’s spell checker.  It seems Office software doesn’t know about all these Northwest hamlets and the “names” above are its suggestions to improve your spelling.  Oy!

Spell checkers tirelessly scan our documents and emails, spot our lapses in spelling and sometimes grammar, and offer corrections to make our writing better than we might have done by ourselves.  But they’re far from perfect and their usual superpowers wane  the most when they encounter proper names.  Surely they know famous people (Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley) and well-known places (Chicago and the Serengeti).  But not all people are famous nor places well-known.  In other words, spell checkers have limits.  I first chuckled at this a few years ago when the word processor I used at the time suggested changing my boss’s name to that of a contagious disease.

Today’s WA-List is just for laughs.  We ran all the incorporated towns and cities of Washington through the spell checker of Microsoft Office (Professional Plus 2010, v. 14.0.4760.1000) and looked for names that confused the Redmond-based software.  Most of the city names were recognized and approved — including Redmond, of course!  Below are the 34 towns that weren’t recognized — along with a few of the spellings that Office suggested.  Which are your favorites?


Correct spelling Microsoft’s suggested spellings
(sampling only)
Almira Admire, Almeria, Amara, Elmira, Palmira
Bingen Binge, Binger, Binges, Binging
Bonney Lake Boney Lake, Bonnet Lake
Bryn Mawr-Skyway Bryn Maws-Skyway
Bucoda Barcode, Buda, Busload, Lucida
Cathlamet Cathleen
Cle Elum Cle Alum, Cle Elm, Cle Slum, Cle Velum
Conconully (Office has no suggestions)
Cosmospolis Cassopolis, Cosmo polis
Cusick Cu sick, Cusack
Darrington Arrington, Darlington, Warrington
Fircrest Fiercest, Forrest
Ilwaco IL Waco, Ileac, Iliac, Iwaki, Waco
Kahlotus Callouts, Kahlua’s
Mattawa Mattawan
McCleary McCrery, McLeay
Metaline Mealtime, Metaling, Metallize
Metaline Falls Mealtime Falls, Metaling Falls, Metallize Falls
Mossyrock Moss rock
Moxee Mode, Moe, More, Move
Napavine Napa vine
Nespelem (Office has no suggestions)
Oakesdale Oakes dale
Pe Ell Peg Ell, Pen Ell, Pep Ell, Pet Ell
Reardan Retardant
Rosalia Rosalie, Rosalina
Skykomish Skokomish
South Cle Elum South Cle Alum, South Cle Elm, South Cle Slum, South Cle Velum
Tekoa Tacoma, Taka tea, Takoma, Tooke
Tieton Teton, Tie-on, Tifton, Tinton
Twisp Tips, Trips, Twigs, Twist, Wisp
Waitsburg Waits burg, Whitesburg
Wilkeson Wilkerson, Wilkes, Wilkinson
Woodway Wood way

NOTE:  We thought it was interesting that Skykomish and Tekoa prompted Office to suggest other Washington towns (Skokomish and Tacoma).  On the other hand, some of these suggestions could be embarrassing if carelessly or auto-applied.  Consider that computer users in these towns have to “teach” the spell checker not to alter their address whenever they unpack a new suite of software.  By the way, we’re not implying that Microsoft Office is deficient here.  If a spell checker let every proper name pass its check, it would let quite a few real misspellings slip through, too.

SOURCE: Just a list of Washington cities, a word processor, and a little time.

GRAPHIC by Steve Campion


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