Allison Batdorff: Chewing on words we can’t spell or pronounce | News

Allison Batdorff: Nostalgia or 'home ache' starts early


Writers tend to get pretty physical with their words.

They tear them from garden rows. Words are rolled over, nudged with wary toes. Writers together zing words back and forth like verbal catch, smacking the mitt, careening off into tall grass.

Some writers leap on magic carpets made of words and let themselves be carried away.

While I may jump aboard the flyaway train from time to time, I’m a bit more down to earth in my relationship — pragmatic even. I liken it best to my relationship with food. Some people eat for survival, or nutrition. Being lucky enough (and owning enough elastic waistband pants) that hand-to-mouth is more of a preference — like double-dipping when alone — I eat instead for the occasion.

There’s cloth-napkin-dinner words that dizzy with lofty feats of description, and fast-food words, desiccating in car cushion cracks. I taste the words as I write them, sampling their mouthfeel as I read aloud.

Only, I don’t always know how they should sound, because my upbringing was more Top Ramen than toast points.

A writer, I test-drive words, and if I’ve only read it and never heard it pronounced, chances are good that I’ll go full charcuterie and butcher the thing.

But I’m not alone! The data show that a ton of fellow foodies, word-nerds or just hungry people get it wrong at first. Our Google searches betray us.

There are apparently 111 ways to try and spell “prosciutto,” according to a recent analysis of Google search data, online food articles and spelling bee words — a study commissioned by Top 10 Meal Delivery.

“Croissant” takes the cake for being searched 30,000 times a month and spelled 99 different ways.

“Gnocchi,” “omelette,” “zucchini” and “quesadilla” added global seasoning to the list.

“Broccoli” even made an appearance.

But in a pragmatic twist that brings joy to the earthy writer in me, the top misspelled food in our country is … “sandwich.”

The “d” is Kevin in “Home Alone,” forgotten entirely. I mean, the only time you hear the “d” is when you’re eating your sandwich on a windy beach and you sink your teeth into a grit san-d-wich.

Then there are the over-thinkers among us for whom the staple causes anxious flashbacks to our grade-school homophones lesson. Meet the “sandwhich,” the lunchtime meal that’s almost a question?

The third most likely misspelling combines both for “sanwhich,” and the three misspellings account for nearly 47,000 monthly American searches.

It just goes to show that all words — no matter how precious — are chewed, digested, and eventually, flushed into the great belching beyond.

Hopefully we can dine out on their story first.

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