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English Language FAQ: The most common spelling errors in English?

English Language FAQ: The most common spelling errors in English?: "Why are some words so hard to spell? My post for the OUP Global Blog considers recent research into the twenty most misspelt words in Engl..."

Practical Spelling (Basics Made Easy)
Franklin Electronic Publishers SA-309 Spelling Ace Thesaurus with Merriam-Webster Puzzle solver

The most common spelling errors in English?

What is crowd sourcing?

A widely used neolgism with an imprecise definition. Crowd sourcing is the equivalent of 'asking the audience' in a radio show. It is a very popular concept in marketing as this example from a furniture design company illustrates:
"We figured that consumers would be the best judges for us," he says. Made.com gives designers the opportunity to submit ideas and then asks customers to vote on them. Only the top vote getters are offered for sale.
The term crowdsourcing is only a few years old, but the idea's been around for a decade. That's when online T-shirt seller Threadless, a pioneer crowdsourcing website based in Chicago, launched. Last year, according to Forbes, Threadless had sales of $30 million. Since then, companies as diverse as P&G, GE and Anheuser-Busch have used crowdsourcing to percolate product and advertising ideas. Full Time article here and a remarkable recent example in education here:

What is 'the groove'? And groovy?

The groove on vinyl records, particularly the old 78s rpm jazz records of the 20s and 30s. The depth and width of the groove indicated the speed and beat - something later picked up by early rappers like Grandmaster Flash.  Jazz musicians used 'groove' as a term of appreciation and this later became part of pop music culture - the Beatles were famously fond of the adjective groovy.

Much later 'groovy' became one of the catch-phrases Austen Powers, a sign that the word had come to symobolise 1960s fantasies of  personal liberation and free love.

What does the term 'ground zero' mean? Where does it come from?

Ground zero is the point closest to the centre of an explosion. It was first used by the Manhatten Project when planning the nuclear bombing raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a news report from Hiroshima in 1946 as 'that part of the ground situated immediately under an exploding bomb, especially an atomic one.".

In recent years 'Ground Zero' has become synonymous in the public mind with 9/11 and the attack on the Twin Towers. The term was used by news reporters in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and has stayed ever since. Ground Zero has come to symbolise the heart of the conflict between the west and Al Queda and its Islamist affiliates. 
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Do some words have an upper age limit?

From my recent post for the OUP Global Blog:
Words are like clothes in that there are some that are only really suited to the young.Here are my top ten verbal equivalents of short skirts, low cut trousers and hoodies. These should be avoided by anyone over the age of… well, you decide.
Can you guess the ten words? The full list here:

Urban Dictionary: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar