Conservation of orthographic gemination, again
Language Log 2019-09-10
Earlier today, BBC News wrote about the latest #sharpiegate development: "Trump Dorian tweets: Weather staff 'faced sacking threat' over Alabama", 9/10/2019:
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had threatened to fire senior staff at the federal weather agency unless they backed President Donald Trump's claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, the New York Times reports.
It says this led to last week's statement by the agency, disavowing an earlier position by a regional office that the US state was not at risk.
Presumably the writer's brain intended "NOAA", but their fingers (really their forebrain/basal ganglia circuits, I guess) generated "NAOO". What's interesting about this is that it preserves the pattern of letter identity XYZZ, while swapping the identity of letters Y and Z.
For some examples where letter sequences are retained but gemination patterns are swapped, see "Conservation of (orthographic) gemination" (3/29/2004) and "Conservation of gemination: Another example" (6/7/2004).
Examples like NAOO seem to be simply lapsus digiti ("slips of the fingers"), more complicated versions of "teh" for "the", while some of the other cases (like "Atilla" for "Attila") may be higher-level errors, where the writer simply mis-remembers the spelling in a way that misplaces doubled letters.