A clear majority of America's adult population can't spell simple words like "embarrassed", "liaison" and "millennium"; a new study has found. For a nation that's known for verbal sparring, that's quite embarrassing (did I spell that right?)
According to a study conducted by the London-based Spelling Society, 62 percent of the people find it hard to spell "embarrassed" correctly.
Almost 61 percent failed to spell liaison, while 52 percent misspelled "millennium".
Although American women emerged as better spellers, but members of both sexes struggled with words like "accommodation", "separate", "definitely" and "accidentally".
The study also showed that nearly 78 pct of the men surveyed were unable to spell "friend".
More than half of the women could not get "liaison" right.
Edward Baranowski, a linguist with California State University at Sacramento blames the nature of the English language for the decline.
"We have different spellings for the same sound, especially for vowels - silent letters, missing letters and a system which reflects how English was spoken in the 13th to 15th centuries, not how it is spoken today," The Washington Times quoted Baranowski as saying.
"So many sound changes have occurred in the language, which are not reflected in modern spelling, that we are left with a 'fossilized' system.
"Perhaps if English had had an effective language academy, such as those in France or Spain, this would have been mitigated over time," he added.
The Spelling Society calls for a regular spelling system for the U.S. and Britain.
"Let's allow people greater freedom to spell logically," said John Wells, a linguist with the University College London.
"It's time to remove the fetish that says that correct spelling is a principal mark of being educated. Let's spell logically just as you do in Spanish, Italian or Swedish," he added.
Meanwhile, commonly misspelled words have drawn the ire of dictionary publishers.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, words such as address, beautiful, immediate and skillful are worries for would-be perfectionists.