Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Cincinnati third most misspelled

        As if we didn't have enough to worry about, Cincinnati now is the third most misspelled city in America.

        Number one is Pittsburgh, a city routinely robbed of its final “h.” Tucson is second — lots of people give it a “c” and an “s.” But not both. People usually cheat Cincinnati out of our third “n,” according to ePodunk Inc., which profiles more than 25,000 U.S. communities on-line. It could have been worse. The company's Web site (www.epodunk.com) also praises Cincinnati as “a beautiful city, cheerful, thriving and animated.” That information may be a little dated, coming as it does from Charles Dickens. But still.

It could be worse

        We are noted as the birthplace of President William Howard Taft, Steven Spielberg, Carmen Electra, Pete Rose and Roy Rogers.

        Our site shows historic “postcards” of the Island Queen and the bird cages at the Cincinnati Zoo. Very picturesque.

        And if we don't appear to be progressive as we might like (“Cleveland rocks”), at least the remarks by Anthony Trollope (“Cincinnati has long been known as a great town — conspicuous among all towns for the number of hogs which are there killed, salted and packed”) are about what we were, not about what we are not and have never been.

        “Ordinarily, anyone in Columbus who wants to take a fling at haute cuisine goes to Cincinnati,” according to Calvin Trillin on that city's entry.

        And, as I said, things could be much, much worse.

Dubious achievements

        Eau Claire, Mich., is the “Cherry Pit Spitting Capital of the World.” Scottsboro, Ala., is listed as the “Lost Luggage Capital of the World,” and Claxton, Ga., won the distinction of “Fruit Cake Capital.” So, I think we should thank our lucky stars that all we are missing is one of our n's.

        The company's Web site compiled a list of misspellings from user searches, over the past six months, then checked out incidences of the misspellings on the Web and in major publications, releasing the report Friday.

        So, how should we respond, as a community, to this insult? We probably should hire a law firm at an obscene hourly rate to figure out whether we can sue anybody. A commission surely should be formed. Perhaps the commission can hire a public relations firm to suggest a new slogan.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune can announce that the misspellings occurred before he took office. Meanwhile, Cincinnati City Council will note that although the city manager has seen several instances of misspellings, he neglected to inform the council.

        Carl Lindner will be asked to buy us additional n's. Phil Heimlich could suggest that spell-checking should be outsourced. Damon Lynch III could suspect that the recent misspellings may be racially inspired.

        The Chamber of Commerce's Buz Buse could announce plans to sponsor the world's largest spelling bee. The opportunity to sell naming rights is explored.

        Like many of my fellow citizens, I rarely miss the chance to wring my hands and wonder why we are not respected as the morally superior, historic and cultured city that we are. Lately, some of us would settle for just being known as a peaceful place.

        But if the rest of the world continues to say mean things about us behind our backs, at least they could spell our name right.
        E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/pulfer.


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