On Sunday, I published a post called Comeupins.
Within seconds, I started getting emails, DMs on twitter, messages on Facebook and comments saying “stop the presses, change the spelling before too many people see it.” And I genuinely appreciated so many people looking out for me. But I wasn’t about to change it.
I know the “other” spelling, my variation was intentional.
So, why’d I do it? A number of reasons.
One, my spelling created a better visual for me of what the word’s really about. It’s grittier. I could taste that spelling, not so much the mainstream one. Yum.
Two, I live in da Bronx in NYC and the Urban Dictionary says, YO, that’s one way to spell the damn word!
Three, I don’t like rules. I was Managing Editor of Law Review many moons ago. I’ve written for journals, mags, books, the whole yadda yadda. I know the rules. And I also know that my favorite renegade writers, entrepreneurs and makers know them too, and they break them. Just like that.
I love language. To me words matter. That same love drives some people to never want to mess with the way it’s “supposed to be.” For me, it does the exact opposite.
I am far more interested in exploring the evolution from, rather than the preservation of status quo.
I question authority. I enjoy the occasional push, nudge or shimmy against “because I’m the grown up and I said it’s so.” Even if it’s just in the name of fun. Even if I end up wrong.
And guess how new expressions, variants, rules, words, ideas, companies, spellings and movements are created? Someone does something different. They poke. Then someone else wonders about it. Then someone else blasts them for it. Then someone else joins in. Then another person wonders. In the blink of an eye, it turns into a conversation. And maybe, just maybe, an evolution.
Even if it doesn’t, it’s gotten people to think. And people need to think.
Language, by the way, is a gorgeous example of dynamism. This may come as a big surprise, but linguistic conventions, usage, spellings and pronunciations are not fixed. There is no eternal right or wrong. They evolve over time to reflect common use. What begins life as an outlier, with enough adoption over time, becomes a viable alternative and sometimes even the mainstay.
The one right answer today becomes one of the right answers tomorrow. Some folks can’t stand that. Drives them batty. I get that. But I’m on the side of thinking it’s pretty cool (oy, started yet another sentence with “But.” Hack!).
There’s one last reason I spelled the title the way I did. It was a little devious, but I wanted to demonstrate something.
It was a test. I wanted to see how much of a pattern interrupt the misspelling would create and how motivated people would be to say something about it. And, wow, it did not disappoint. What you see in the comments is only part of the conversation. You should see my emails, DMs and more.
For you marketers and raconteurs out there, a pattern interrupt an example of doing something unexpected in the quest to change someone’s state and open them to a conversation. My spelling of comeupins stopped a solid chunk of people, made some laugh, some scratch their heads, some angry at how a dude who calls himself a “writer” could make such an error or even acknowledge the existence of something so devoid of authority outside the Urban Dictionary and, well, many others had no clue how the word is normally spelled anyway.
More importantly, it started a conversation in a way the proper spelling never would have. I like that.
So next time you feel bound by the rules, or bound to jump on someone who’s not following them, maybe take a step back and say, “hmmm, wonder why the rule is there?” or “wonder why she did THAT?!”
Then have a little fun with it…
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