Barak Obama. Look carefully at that name: Barak Obama. Take your time.
Notice anything peculiar? Does anything strike you as odd in the name “Barak Obama?”
It is spelled wrong! The U.S. President’s name is Barack Obama with a “c” — not Barak Obama.
Frequency of “Barak Obama” Spelling
And you’re not the only one who has been spelling it wrong. According to Google’s Adwords “Keyword Tool,” about 368,000 searches for “Barak Obama” are conducted each month.
Compare that to the monthly number of “Barack Obama” (correct spelling) searches: about 5,000,000. When we add the correct searches (5,000,000) and the incorrect searches (368,000) and divide by the incorrect searches (368,000), we find that 15% of searches for the President’s name use the incorrect spelling!
It is likely, however, that significantly more than 15% of searchers spell Obama’s name incorrectly. This is true because there are numerous other ways to spell the name wrong. 12,100 per month search for “Barock Obama.” Who are these people?
Other common errors include Barok Obama (2,900), Barrock Obama (2,900), and Barac Obama (18,100). These errors make “Barak Obama” look downright intelligent.
Why Can’t We Spell the President’s Name Correctly?
Barack Obama (not Barak) is probably the most talked-about person on the planet currently. Why can’t we spell his name correctly? Allow me to speculate:
The Google numbers do not reveal the geography of people who search for “Barak Obama.” A substantial portion of them could be outside the U.S., or even non-English speakers.
The fact that Barack Obama is world famous supports the assumption that numerous non-English speakers are searching for him on Google. It is completely understandable that non-English speakers would spell his name differently.
On the other hand, Barack is an uncommon name for English speakers, too. Knowledge of English might not correlate with ability to spell Barack.
The truth might be that Americans, non-American English speakers, and non-English speakers alike have trouble with the President’s foreign-sounding name.
Four years from now, we will all be much more familiar with President Obama. No more of this “Barak Obama” nonsense in 2012, I am guessing.
Don’t worry about Barack. This is probably not the first time people have botched his name.
I bet Jorge Washington never had this problem.
[The Google-generated data in this article is current as of January 30, 2009. As Google acknowledges, the data is only approximate, and varies from month to month.]