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September 26, 2007


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This reminds me of a phenomenon I think needs a name. I have seen in more than one e-mail or briefing the use of "Wallah", a Hindu/Sanskrit term referring to a successful person in a given business (as in, "Placek's a naming and branding wallah"), in a context where it made no sense.

Then I tried it phonetically, and realized it was people meaning to use the French voila, meaning "there it is". I don't use Microsoft products, but I would suspect that this is due to a suggestion made by some MS spell-checker when someone has typed "walla" or a variation thereof, trying to demonstrate a certain je ne se quoi when revealing some amazing branding idea.

Is there a word yet for an automated spelling correction suggestion that becomes a new spelling?

Mark, it's not quite the same thing, but at Language Log they've mentioned the "Cupertino effect" a few times—it's named after a spell-checker's unfortunate fix for some misspellings of "cooperation."

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