In our local newspaper La Prensa Libre (Free Press), I saw a notice about the upcoming Grammy awards. Supposedly Tom Perry is being voted "Person of the Year".

Above the caption, to my surprise, I saw a picture of Heartbreaker Tom Petty.

As a translator and longtime resident of Latin-America, I can imagine how this mis-spelling came about: the reporter heard the name Petty, transliterated it into Spanish with the rhotic flap, and somehow came up with a spelling in Spanish of a double "R"--hence Perry.

But this is not an isolated incident of this type of Spanglish spellings that we ex-pats are confronted with on a daily basis.

Other examples:

washa--> washer, as used with bolts and nuts

mofle --> muffler (car)

Retron has supplied two examples from Japan.

Eric Crapton, for Eric Clapton

Makudonarudo, for McDonalds

My Spanish examples show a mangled American English mid and final "R" sound, and the Japanese examples show a difficulty with the "L" consonant. I am wondering if there is a name for this type of mis-spelling very common in L1-L2 (First Language-Second Language) confusion.

Mondegreen seems to deal with only song lyrics.

Eggcorn is closer, but seems to be about mis-heard English words expressed in another homophonic English word.

When I am trying to clasify this type of mis-spelling based on a second language phoneme set that mangles the word to the point of almost unrecognizable form , what should it be called?

I am looking for a term to embrace the idea of a transliteration error coming from any language, based on mis-hearing the original word or name.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jan 26, 2017 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


The word 'eggcorn' is accurate. It is definitely bad trade craft to misspell someone's name when you are paid for your work.

Also, why would someone transliterate a name written in an understandable form? If the alphabets were different, that would be another case. But Spanish and English share the same alphabet, so 'Petty' reads the same in both languages.

A case where a name needs attention in Spanish would be where the natural accent differs from the English. Spanish words ending in vowels or the letter n or s are not normally accented on that last syllable. To shift that emphasis, say for the British pronunciation of papa as 'pa-PA,' the word can take an accent mark on the stressed syllable: papá. To show that the country Peru stresses its last syllable in Spanish requires the accent mark: Perú.

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