Seriously, what the hell, New Mexico?

By Jon Tayler
May 30, 2017

The English language can be a complicated one for even the best native speakers, littered as it is with bizarre conjugations and spellings. Take silent letters like the "B" in plumber, for instance, or our use of double consonants. There's no reason for most of those to exist, yet there they are, constantly tripping us up as we try our best to write out "psoriasis" or "embarrassment."

Every year, though, we get a reminder that for some, spelling is easy—absurdly, terrifyingly easy. The Scripps National Spelling Bee—which begins on Wednesday night and will continue through June 4—annually puts on display the best spellers from across the land, horrifying us as children as young as eight years old deconstruct words that most of us have never even heard of or used in front of many people and on national television without missing a beat.

As it turns out, though, those kids are far and away the exception, because most Americans apparently can't even spell the most basic words in our lexicon without needing help, if Google Trends is to be believed.

There are so, so many upsetting things about this map. Don't get me wrong, there are some legitimately tough words scattered across the lower 48 states: "pneumonia" (Washington State's bugaboo), "diarrhea" (apparently a common ailment in New Hampshire), the always mesmerizing "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (from the musical theater fans in West Virginia and Connecticut). But some of these are downright depressing. How on earth do the people of the good state of New Mexico not know how to spell "banana"? It's all of six letters! The residents of Mississippi have somehow mastered "Mississippi" but can't wrap their heads around how many Ns are in "nanny." That's more than can be said about Wisconsinites, however, who are apparently clueless as to how to spell the name of their own state.

(Also, I'm shocked that Florida's most looked up "how to spell" word isn't something like "arraignment," "extradition," "felony" or "parole.")

Anyway, the whole map is worth perusing, if only to be flabbergasted by the idea of adults not knowing how to arrange correctly the letters in "liar," "angel" or "college" (way to tell on yourself with that last one, South Dakota). But the greatest irony is this: In its initial tweet about misspelled words, Google Trends misspelled Maryland's most searched word as "Nintey."

Spelling: It's harder than it looks! (And it's also sports.)

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