Sensational spellings are common in advertising and product placement. In particular, brand names such as Cadbury's "Creme Egg" (standard English spelling: cream), Weet-Bix, Blu-ray (blue) or Kellogg's "Froot Loops" (fruit) may use unexpected spellings to draw attention to or trademark an otherwise common word. In video games, a well-known example of sensational spelling is Mortal Kombat, in which the word "combat" is deliberately misspelled by replacing the hard C sound with the letter K (similarly, some versions had an "Insert Koin" prompt in the attract mode).
Misspellings are sometimes used to avoid trademark disputes, where using the standard spelling might be considered false advertising or violate labeling regulations (e.g. "kream" for a nondairy food product) or as a search engine optimization technique.
In popular culture
Sensational spelling may take on a cult value in popular culture. An example of this is the heavy metal umlaut. Also, the rail service Amtrak is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track", the latter having a sensational spelling of "trak".
During the 1960s, bands often included in their names misspelled words and/or homophones that played on double meanings of the names as spoken. Examples include the Beatles, an intentional misspelling of "Beetles", and Led Zeppelin, in which "led" was deliberately misspelled to make clear it is pronounced lead (as in the metal) rather than the other pronunciation.
The deliberate misspelling of words in album or song titles has its origins in early 1970s rock, such as
- Sly & The Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" (1970),
- Genesis's "Wot Gorilla?", and
- The band Slade (e.g. "Coz I Luv You" , "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" ).
In the 1980s it became common with funk artists such as Prince (e.g. "U Got The Look", "I Would Die 4 U"), and eventually came to be epitomized in the rap and hip-hop genres, with both song titles and artists' names (e.g. Ludacris, Phanatik, Timbaland, Xzibit, Gorillaz) using the form. Sensational spelling was common amongst nu metal bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s (e.g. Korn, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit). The term "nu metal" itself is a sensational spelling of "new metal", and sometimes even stylized as "nü-metal", with an additional metal umlaut.
An influential hard-rock magazine of the 1970s-80s was Creem.
On the Internet
In imageboards such as 4chan and the humorous Encyclopedia Dramatica wiki, "lulz", an intentional misspelling of LOL, is used to denote Schadenfreude. Doing something "for the lulz" (also abbreviated as ftlulz) means doing something "just for laughs" and often portrays a hedonistic behaviour.
Terry Pratchett's fifth Discworld novel, published in 1988, is titled Sourcery, a sensational spelling of the word "sorcery". A sourcerer is, according to Pratchett, "a wizard squared; while the eighth son of a non-wizard is a wizard, the eighth son of a wizard is a sourcerer. A source of magic."
- Rozakis, Laurie E. (2008). I Before "E" Except After "C": Spelling for the Alphabetically Challenged. Citadel Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-8065-2884-2.
- Ross, Nigel (2006). "Writing in the Information Age". English Today (Cambridge University Press) 22: 40. doi:10.1017/S0266078406003063.
- Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated. London: Virgin Publishing. pp. 103–104. ISBN 978-0-7535-0481-9.
- Keith Shadwick (2005). Led Zeppelin The Story of a Band and their Music 1968-1980. p. 36. ISBN 0-87930-871-0.