Locally, D.C. denizens sought help to spell a fancy breakfast pastry that perhaps serves as a symbol of inside-the-Beltway isolation from real Americans’ concerns: “croissant.” And it turned out Maryland and Virginia can’t quite comprehend “cancelled.”
Adding to the confusion over “cancelled” is this entry from The Washington Post stylebook: “Use one l, not two, in conjugating the verb cancel — canceled, not cancelled; canceling, not cancelling. (Two l’s, however, in cancellation.)” In other words: We’re spelling canceled wrong, and we don’t care.
The map turned up some other anomalies. Utah, not known for its Irish population, had questions about “leprechaun.” Wyoming residents, known for being “ornery,” couldn’t spell it. Alaskans needed guidance on “Hawaii”; Hawaiians, perhaps distracted by leis, needed guidance on “boutineer” (or “boutonniere,” as Webster’s dictionary spells it). And Massachusetts couldn’t quite handle “Massachusetts.”
Some states, it appears, made year-over-year progress. In 2015, for example, New York and New Jersey struggled to spell “Hanukkah.” That problem apparently behind them, they now are learning about “beautiful” and “February.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Vermont and New Mexico as states that searched Google for how to spell “diarrhea.”