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Cacography is deliberate comic misspelling, a type of humour similar to malapropism.[1][2]

The term in the sense of "poor spelling, accentuation, and punctuation" is a semantic antonym to orthography,[3] and in the sense of "poor handwriting" it is an etymological antonym to the word calligraphy: cacography is from Greek κακός (kakos "bad") and γραφή (graphe "writing").

A common usage of cacography was to caricature illiterate speakers.[4]

Russian internet[edit]

The Russian internet culture witnessed an explosive growth of Russian language cacography of particular, systematic types, see articles Padonki and Udaff. One way of corruption is phonetic spelling of Russian words, i.e., an exaggerated way of "natural" erring, e.g., ниасилил (niasilil) – "didn't cope with (to read in full)" (correct spelling: не осилил, ne osilil), a typical response to a long and/or boring post. Another way is grotesque hypercorrection: the word is spelled in such a way that when pronounced, it sounds in a correct way. An example is a Russian internet meme Preved, which is pronounced as and intends to mean, privet, i.e., "hello" or "hi". In 2005 philologist Gasan Guseinov suggested the neologism Эрратив (errativ, i.e., "errative") to refer to the phenomenon.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "On the Real Side: Laughing, Lying, and Signifying: the Underground Tradition of African-American Humor that Transformed American Culture, from Slavery to Richard Pryor", by Mel Watkins, 1994, ISBN 0-671-68982-7, pp. 60, 62
  2. ^ "A History of American Literature Since 1870" by Fred Lewis Pattee, 1917, p.34, digitized by Google Books
  3. ^ "A Practical Grammar of French Rhetoric, by Gabriel Surenne", 1846, 150, digitized by Google Books
  4. ^ "The literary content of the New York Spirit of the times, 1831-1856", by Richard Boyd Hauck", 1965, p. 184
  5. ^ Gasan Guseinov, "Weblog's Burrow. An Introduction to Erratic Semantics" (Гасан Гусейнов «Берлога веблога». Введение в эрратическую семантику), Speaking Russian, March 2005 (Russian)