Accomodate Accommodate or Acommodate? Company blames cell phones for poor spelling

This badly written faux story came in a couple of months ago from a company that sells writing software. It looks like news, but it’s a company-issued press release.

Below is a straight copy/paste. I left in the numerous grammatical and punctuation errors. How many can you find? This really makes you wonder about the company’s “turbocharged writing engine.”

(Incidentally, an electronics hobbyist magazine called Nuts and Volts ran a slightly different version of the faux story verbatim, and without attribution, in its June 2008 issue. The version below is not from Nuts and Volts, but from the press release I received from WhiteSmoke.)

Cellphones Blamed for Poor Spelling, Survey Says

WhiteSmoke study: adults cannot spell everyday words and charge their cellphones

Cellphones have been blamed for car crashes, cancer, and boorish behavior.

People now blame cellphones for their poor spelling.

A recent survey by WhiteSmoke, Inc. revealed that most adults can’t spell everyday words. When asked why, 68% of the 2,500 randomly-selected participants claimed technology was to blame — particularly mobile phone predictive spelling and text speak abbreviations.

Apparently using CUL8TR for see you later, contributed to 38% of people forgetting how to spell definitely and accommodate. Likewise, 40% could not spell questionnaire and nearly a third were stumped by liaison. This is according to the research conducted by WhiteSmoke, Inc. developers of a turbocharged writing engine that relies on patented language processing to check spelling, grammar and punctuation in context (

Despite dismal spelling skills, the survey revealed that only 59% of adults age 18-60 bother to use their spellchecker before hitting their email send button. “Surprisingly,” noted Amit Greener, vice president of sales and marketing for WhiteSmoke said, ”A third of adults questioned regard their spelling skills as excellent and another 46% claimed their spelling was good.”

Even receive was misspelled by 15% of respondents who likely forgot the lesson covering, “I before E except after C.” and calendar left 19 % of the participants scratching their heads, according to the English language grammar and writing software firm headquartered in Wilmington, DE whose product enhances writing by suggesting synonyms, adjectives and adverbs. The product also includes writing templates for a wide range of business and professional applications

Test your spelling against the WhiteSmoke Survey Participants with Spelling Quiz here or online at

Correct answers and percentage of errors appear below.

1. Calendar Calender Calandar
2. Embarrass Embaress Embarass
3. Necassary Necessary Neccessary
4. Accomodate Accommodate Acommodate
5. Separete Separate Seperate
6. Occured Occurred Ocurred
7. Existance Existence Existance
8. Liaision Liason Liaison
9. Definitely Difinately Definitly
10. Ocurence Ocurrence Occurrence
11. Questionairre Questionaire Questionnaire
12. Referring Refering Refferring

1- a (19%) , 2 – a (24%), 3 – b ( 3.5%) , 4 – b (38%), 5 – b (27%), 6 – b(27%), 7 – b (30%), 8 – c (31%), 9 – a, 10 – c(29%), 11 – c (40%), 12 – a (28%)

0 Wrong – You are a champion speller
1 – 4 Wrong – Average – Use spellchecker and proofread carefully
5 – 8 Wrong – Use spellchecker, proofread carefully and learn one new word a week
9 – 12 Wrong – Use spellchecker, get someone else to proofread and learn one new word a week

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
3 replies
  1. Alan Zeichick
    Alan Zeichick says:

    I don’t often pick on the spelling and grammar in press releases or other posts. I make enough of those mistakes of my own, and people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    However, in this case, considering that the company’s product line is promoted as having “the ability to detect and correct grammar errors,” and also that the subject of the press release had to do with poor written communication, I feel this criticism is justified.

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