Posts tagged ‘Interesting Arcana’

You Readers are Getting a Bargain

Apparently Yale's Econ 109 Microeconomics class has been assigned my post on Business Relocation and the Prisoner's Dilemma as part of this week's reading.  They are paying tens of thousands of dollars to read this site, while my 17 regular readers are getting it for free!  I'm not sure I am a huge Yale fan, given I attended Princeton and later Harvard, but I may have underestimated them now that I know what discriminating taste they have in blog reading.

Interesting Arcana:  The actual reason I think the professor found my article is probably because he used the spelling "dilemna" rather than "dilemma" when Google searching, as I did in the post title.  For some reason, I have always gravitated to this funny spelling with an "n" rather than a second "m".  I don't seem to be the only one - Google has hundreds of thousands of hits for dilemna.  What is the deal here?  I can't find dilemna as an alternate spelling anywhere in a dictionary, but it gets used a lot.  Hell, its in a CNN headline here.  A bunch of the Google hits for "dilemna" are in articles written by university professors.

So here is where you really have to love the web.  It turns out that this has actually been a discussion board topic in a number of places.  Here is part of a thread, for example, on dilemna vs dilemma.

John's note about being certain the word was spelled "dilemna" really hit home for me. It's almost as though at some point in my life I learned that was indeed the correct spelling and somehow had an edge on the masses. As with John, when I write I tend to pronounce words in my mind the way they are spelled - ie. FebRUary, WedNESday, etc. And as a champion speller in my younger days, it only seemed natural that I would be in the know.

As it happens, I'm writing a book right now, and the word came up. Though I spelled it the way I always knew was correct, I decided to double check with the dictionary and suddenly it was as though I was in the Twilight Zone. It was gone. Since dilemna is not as the word sounds, I can't figure out how the situation developed. I'm still convinced the spelling has changed somewhere along the way (ha!). I also recently had this same revelation with the word "pom-pom" (as in cheerleader's) which I always thought I was so smart in spelling as  "pompon." At least pompon is in the dictionary, though it has a slightly different meaning as the head of a chrysanthemum.

The only thing I can conclude is that I must have been living a parallel life in which these words were indeed spelled this way, and somehow made a crossover in recent years ....  (Twilight Zone Theme: do-do-do-do do-do-do-do)

There is a whole string of conjectures like this, but no real answer.  I will admit, now that this guy has, that I too had a certain Ivy-League-smarter-than-the-masses confidence that I had it right.  Ooops.