Thursday, April 24, 2008

Phsy* and Pshy* (for Phys* and Psych*)

The physical and the psychological have often been treated as opposites, and the way each of these types of words is spelled tends to spell trouble for the other. A search in OhioLINK for Phsy* reveals 32 typos for a range of words including physical, psychoanalytic, physician, physiology, psychotherapy, psychology, and physics. Reversing the second and third letters (Pshy*) returns seven results. While some practitioners in these fields (physicians, physicists, psychiatrists) need to have advanced degrees like Ph.D.'s, others barely rise to the level of pseudoscience (psychics, physiognomists, certain psychologists). None of which has anything to do with the order of the first three letters, actually, but that very variability makes mixing up their spellings a little easier to do. If you're feeling a little mixed up right now, before you start thinking about seeing a witch doctor or which doctor to start seeing, simply slow down and sound things out. Pshaw, it's not as bad as it looks. (Burlington-based jam band Phish, from the Ickmusic website.)

Carol Reid

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