The Problem with Pen Island
aka: Pen Island
"I was in a bookshop and I said to the assistant, 'Excuse me, what's this "psycho the rapist" section?'. She said, 'It's pronounced "psychotherapist".'"Some names and titles are stored in a way that is not case-sensitive, but doesn't allow spaces to separate words. So how do you tell one word apart from the next? If you're not careful, you can wind up with names that are quite... odd. Thus, this trope. Differs from Scunthorpe Problem in that the Scunthorpe Problem is about computers making these mistakes before humans can see them; this is about humans making these mistakes because other humans didn't catch them earlier. Compare Mondegreen, which applies to spoken language rather than written language. See this page for the hilarity that could arise from trope names. Also known as scripta continua.
— Jimmy Carr
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- A variation appears in YuYu Hakusho. Kuwabara, Hiei, Botan and Kurama are facing Kaito, who can make it so that if anyone, even himself, says a specific word- "Hot" at the moment- their soul will be sucked out of their body. When Botan goes for a drink, Kuwabara asks if they can share it with "each other" and loses his soul even though he didn't specifically say "Hot" (in the manga, he asks for "two shots" of orange juice). Kaito points out that he has no control over how his powers are applied, and simply saying the syllables for "hot" is enough regardless of context.
- This trope gives us the title of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, as the characters in Nozomu Itoshiki's name, when written horizontally, smush into the character for "zetsubou" ("despair"). It's no surprise the guy's depressed.
- A variation of this trope is Older than Television. By convention, comic book lettering is usually all-caps. Due to the vagaries of hand-lettering and smudgy printing, letters can often run together. In particular, a capital L next to a capital I can end up looking like the single letter U. Thus, perfectly innocent words like CLINT and FLICK, when printed in a comic book, can wind up looking like certain four-letter words. (Nowadays, comic books use proper case in dialogue thanks to the advent of computer fonts and automatic spell- and grammar-checking, which eliminates potential gaffes.)
- Urban Legend says that The Comics Code specifically forbade the use of the words "Clint" and "Flick" for this reason. (Not true, though.)
- Longtime Editor Julius Schwartz mentioned avoiding the use of those words in his autobiography, but the notion that they were forbidden by "official policy" (as opposed to Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement) seems to be untrue.
- The name Clint, does, in fact, turn up in comics, sometimes fairly prominently, as with Marvel's Hawkeye (aka Clint Barton.)
- "Flick" is also used, though comics writer Peter David recalls an actual angry letter about a villain saying, "I SHALL DESTROY YOU AS EASILY AS I WOULD FLICK AN INSECT OFF MY SHOULDER."
- Scottish writer Mark Millar deliberately invoked this trope with his British comics magazine CLiNT, launched in September 2010.
- Demonstrated by this old comic and a later comic.
- Millie the Model's photographer and boyfriend had a name change, from "Flicker" to "Clicker," possibly because of this trope. (Alternatively, it may have simply been that "Clicker" sounds like a better nickname for a photographer.)
- In this article, Cracked mentions one Flick Falcon.
- Fables spinoff "Jack of Fables" would sometimes be listed in Previews as "JACKOFFABLES".
- This moment from Chapter 16 of A Cure for Love:
Sometime ago, Matsuda had left a post-it on one of the laptops in which he'd accidentally managed to wedge a biro into the CD drive in an attempt to extricate something.
"Pen is stuck in drive"
Only the 'pen' and 'is' were written too close together. L now had a 'penis stuck in drive' post-it stuck on his laptop screen. He was considering framing it.
- The Clint version shows up in Bring Me the Head of Mavis Davis, courtesy of Clint the assassin.
- In Election, Reese Witherspoon's character, Tracy Flick, makes cupcakes with her last name (FLICK) written on them in icing. So this fits, because she was FLICK-ing a teacher at the beginning of the film.
- And the long, lingering, close-up on her PICK FLICK election badge...
- In Girl Interrupted, Lisa refers to therapists as "ther-rapists".
- Not really an obscene example, but results from the general pattern of this trope. the film Antz. Look at the title and the movie, and it's easy to think that the title is just a faux hip way of describing the colony of ants that the movie is about, however adding a space makes the second interpretation a bit clear: Ant Z is the main character, and the title is really a Character Title. When the movie first came out, the title was written with the Z off axis, making it a bit more obvious to people who had seen the movie and seen the title again afterwards. Newer box covers for the DVDs keep the spelling Antz, making it seem like a straight case of Xtreme Kool Letterz.
- In Lolita, Villain Protagonist Humbert Humbert comments on this is in respect to "therapist / "the rapist". He would know.
- There's actually a joke involving that: "I take the 'the' out of psychotherapist."
- In the third Foundation novel by Isaac Asimov, there was a school with a policy of having students sign their reports by first initial followed by last name. This rule was given an exception in the case of a young Olynthus Dam.
- Similarly, the protagonist of the Iain Banks novel Espedair Street was one Daniel Weir; listed in the school register by surname followed by first initial.
- The planet Hellspark in the novel of the same name by Janet Kagan was named based on this principle as a statement on the mutability of language. The natives purposefully alternate between pronouncing their planet "Hell spark" and "Hell's park".
- In Stephenson's Quicksilver, King Charles II ennobled Knott Bolstrood when naming him Secretary of State. He was granted the title "Count of Penistone" note mostly because that would force him to write "penis" whenever he signed his name.
- A book entitled "A Steroid Hit the Earth" about misprints includes several examples like this. One highlight is a story from the filming of an episode of ZCARS, in which the opening line of the script read "Inspector Lynch is sitting at his desk, his penis in his hand."
- Of legendary status in Germany is the story of a book its author wanted to call "Der Urinstinkt" (The primal instinct). The publisher objected to this because of the similarity to "Der Urin stinkt" (The urine stinks).
- An entry in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader referenced an obscure snack named HITS with this problem. The word stretched from the left edge of the packaging to the right, so when there were many side-by-side it read HITSHITSHITSHITSHITS. Similar graphic design problems arise in music magazines aimed at teens interested in the current charts.
- In Witches Abroad, Nanny Ogg misreads a sign that says "Hotel, No vacancies" as "Hotel Nova Cancies".
- Older Than Print - One of the medieval exempla speaks about a bishop who practices nigromancy and - being encroached by his enemies - consults the devil about what course of action he should take: Should he seek escape? The demon responds: Non, sta secure; venient inimici tui suaviter et subdentur tibi (No, rest secure; your enemies will come humbly and subdue unto you). The bishop follows the advice, and in effect his castle gets captured and he himself gets burnt at stake. Before he dies, the devil - in response to the bishop's cries of being deceived - interprets his previous advice thusly: Non sta secure; venient inimici tui sua vi ter et subdent ur tibi (Don't rest secure; your enemies will come in thrice their strength and will set fire unto you). note
Live Action TV
- Played with multiple times on Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy!" sketches, although it's strongly implied that Sean Connerynote was just being a dick as it's somewhat hard to read "An Album Cover" as "Anal Bum Cover". Other examples from those sketches are "The Pen Is Mightier", read by Connery as "The Penis Mightier"; "S Words", which was read as "Swords"; "Catch The Semen" for "Catch These Men"; "Jap Anus Relations", for "Japan-US Relations", "Famous Titles" as "Famous Titties"; "Who Reads" as "Whore Ads" and "Let It Snow" as "Le Tits, Now", "Foreign Flicks as "Foreign Fucks" due to the way the font looked (Connery said "I was thinking of foreign ladies I snogged"); and even the above "Therapists" example. Burt Reynolds also once pronounced "a petit déjeuner" as "ape tit", with the usual results.
- In most cases Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) would correct Connery's mispronouncing by saying (for instance) "That's 'Therapists', not 'The Rapists',"...except for the "Foreign Flicks" case (where he just emphasized that it's "Foreign Flicks"). The fact that it's foreign ladies that he's snogged suggests that Connery was reading it as "Foreign Fucks" (with the L and I so close together as to be mistaken for a U), which couldn't be explicitly said on SNL as it is over-the-air on NBC.
- The "Therapists" one also happened on Jeopardy! itself when the show did a session of categories inspired by the sketch.
- There is a The Benny Hill Show sketch where Benny Hill is a sign painter and he's painting a door for a therapist, and he paints "JOHN SMITH, THE RAPIST" instead of "JOHN SMITH, THERAPIST".
- In a similar Red Skelton sketch, Red was supposed to be arranging letters on a movie marquee to read "IMA JACK AS SINBAD." A beautiful girl came by, Red stopped watching what he was doing, and it ended up as "IM A JACKASS."
- Played with in Arrested Development with "Tobias Fünke: Analrapist" (Analyst/Therapist). Tobias insists that it be pronounced "Ah-NAL-rap-pist", but it's hard to read it as anything but what it says on his business card, even when compressed into a single word.
Buster: (gasps as he reads the card)
Tobias: "Don't worry, it isn't pronounced like that."
Buster: "It isn't the pronunciation I was worried about."
- In season 4, it's revealed that Tobias's license plate reads "ANUSTART", as he is hoping to get A NU START. He also mistakes a methadone (here spelt "methodone") clinic for a "method one" acting class. On the other hand, after being in prison, he finally realized to some degree how he comes off and instead changes his title to "theralyst"
- QI presented four of the websites listed below whorepresents, expertsexchange, powergenitalia, therapistfinder and penisland - the panellists were given the websites and had to work out what they were really meant to be.
- Demetri Martin did a sketch about this.
- Deliberately invoked by the written sketch compilation MONTYPYTHONSCRAPBOOK.
- In one Three's Company, Janet thinks Jack's girlfriend is a prostitute, but she's actually a psychologist. The confusion culminates in Janet reading the woman's business card as "The rapist!"
- Used to great effect in the short-lived TV show, Miracles, where a message is repeatedly found scrawled near the site of unexplained events reading "GODISNOWHERE", leading to an in-universe conflict of interpretations.
- Used on Lowdown with a subeditor asking Alex if Brad Pitt has actually been convicted of rape when an unfortunate line break changes "Brad Pitt's therapist" to "Brad Pitt's the rapist".
- The broad, white, all-caps, sans-serif credits font used in Barney Miller was not kind to writer Theodore J. Flicker.
- In one episode of Raines, the eponymous character claims he read Dr. Kohl's card as "The Rapist" instead of "Therapist".
- In an episode of The Golden Girls spinoff ''The Golden Palace", the girls ordered personalised pens with the phrase "pen is compliments of The Golden Palace". The guy left out the space between "pen" and "is".
Customer: Is this some sort of come-on?
- Done on Top Gear with writing logos on car doors in such a way that they look like something else when the door is opened. Namely "Larsen's Biscuits", "Penistone Oils", "Amerdea du fromage, ("Merde du fromage" is roughly French for "shit of cheese", but the idiomatic meaning is closer to "bloody cheese"), "C'est les bien chat!", "Sophartel Industrie", Restaurant petit entree" and Coq joli yaourt auxfruits" (roughly "cock yoghurt and nice fruits).
- Taken Up to Eleven with the India Special, where they place large signs on the sides of the train (which later separated upon arriving on a train station) which read: "The United Kingdom promotes British IT for your company" and "Eat English muffins".
- In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Frank Reynolds names his club Shadynasty, which he meant to be Sha Dynasty, not Shady Nasty.
- In Not Going Out, Lee is incensed about a notice he found at the career's section of the library saying "Are you looking for a job, innit?", finding it Totally Radical to an insulting degree. His roommate looks at the letter and explains that it says "Are you looking for a job in IT?".
- Covers of the British SF/Fantasy magazine SFX often are examples (perhaps deliberately invoked) of this trope. When a cover subject's photo is placed in front of the magazine's logo, it looks like the magazine's logo might actually be SEX. One letter to the editor informed the magazine that a picture of Chris Evans as Captain America: The First Avenger on the cover and having the 'F' obscured led to that issue being put with the "gay interest" magazines in his local newsagents.
- Referenced in the title of David Langford's collected SFX work: The SEX Column And Other Misprints.
- Also in Britain, a run-of-the-mill bog-standard women's magazine was called Closer by its publishers. Given that on at least one occasion, the capital "C" of "Closer" has been obscured by elements of the cover design or lead picture, this might have been a naming error..
- Closer, like its sister magazines and imitators, is deliberately edited, priced low and targeted at women in the lower social demographics - the advertising within the pages makes this clear. so the front-page error that obscures the "C" might well be perceived as rubbing it in, or as a snidey joke perpetuated by the designers at the expense of the targeted audience...
- A label on a Bob Dylan LP once (in violation of standard typesetting) broke the title "Mr. Tambourine Man" across two lines as "MR. TAMBO- / URINE MAN". This provided the inspiration for a line in They Might Be Giants' song "Weep Day": "It's samba time for Tambo and weep day for Urine Man."
- Susan Boyle celebrated the release of her new album with the Twitter hashtag #susanalbumparty.
- Italian punk rock band Prozac+ released an album named "Miodio", which can be read alternately as "Mi odio" (I hate myself) or "Mio dio" (My god).
- The band name Alexisonfire can be read in about ten different ways, depending on punctuation or spacing between letters.
- The track "Big Butter And Egg Man" by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven (available on The Complete Hot Five And Hot Seven Recordings). Is it about a duo named Big Butter and Egg Man? Or about a man called Big Butter And Egg? note
- Station To Station by David Bowie, which has a title that can be interpreted as a station named Station To or a station named To Station.
- "Phones Ex" by The Fitness.
- Invoked by Nicki Minaj in her song "Super Bass." You see, Miss Minaj is known for having a large butt...
- The most famous example is possibly a collection of URLs that were found to be... failures in some way. Try to figure out what they are before highlighting the spoiler:
- http://www.penisland.net Pen Island; probably an intentional joke site. We Specialize In Wood
- http://www.expertsexchange.com Experts Exchange.note Also mentioned in this article.
- http://www.gotahoe.com Go Tahoe
- http://www.therapistfinder.com Therapist Findernote
- http://www.whorepresents.com Who Represents
- http://www.ferrethandjobs.com Ferreth and Jobs. note Is your business in the right hands?
- http://www.speedofart.com Speed Of Art; possibly intentional
- http://www.powergenitalia.com Powergen Italia - The Italian branch of Powergen, a manufacturer of electricity generating equipment note
- http://www.Chicks.net is the lovely homepage of Mr. Christopher Hicks.
- http://www.doctorwhoreviews.co.uk Doctor Who Reviews
- http://www.feeduscrap.fr Fée du Scrapnote Sounds totally innocuous in French, incidentally.
- http://www.childrenslaughterhouse.com Children's Laughter House, an intentional joke site
- http://bigbustycoons.com Big Bus Tycoons, another intentional joke site
- http://kidsexchange.net Kids exchange? What exactly is going on there? They have since changed their URL to http://kxconsignment.com/
- http://www.experts-exchange.com/. The "-" is crucial.
- A Dutch example: one internet company tried to promote switching from any other company to them. Their slogan: "Overstappen is niet eng" ("Switching isn't scary"). Their URL: www.overstappenisnieteng.nl, which with the words squashed together can and will be read as "Overstap penis niet eng" ("Switch to penis not scary"). It took them a few months to catch on, after which they very quickly changed their ads and URL.
- Baseball-Reference.com, a very popular database of baseball players and their statistics, lists players by the first five letters of their last name and the first two letters of their first name. No problem, except for Boston Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis. The result: YoukiKe. Yeah. They changed his entry real quick...to YouklKe, which isn't much better. Particularly unfortunate because Youkilis is Jewish.
- This Bash Org quote.
- Here's a top 10 list of them.
- The URL to the official website of Repo! The Genetic Opera, as noticed by quite a few people, is rePOOPera.com. Apparently noticeable enough that 'repo-opera' is now a redirect.
- It's been noted a few times that the url for the section of the Arlington Cemetery site about the Tomb Of The Unknowns ends in tombofun.htm - as in Tomb O' Fun.
- http://www.gencysexit.com. Inactive now, if you looked in the upper left corner of your computer when visiting that site, it even said "Fuck You TV Tropes".
- http://fuckyeahmenswear.tumblr.com is about menswear, not an enthusiastic affirmation that men swear. To confuse matters, http://realmenswear.tumblr.com/ posts photos of stylish men with profanity-laced captions.
- http://www.rebelscum.com, a Star Wars database famous for its action figure photo archive.
- http://www.michaelspornanimation.com sounds like some guy's Hentai collection, but is in fact the site of an animation company run by a man named Michael Sporn.
- This FML story.
- A Turkish designer named Adil Işık has a clothing line named after him. Of course the website would be "Adil Işık" followed by ".com". However, Turkish letters can cause trouble in URLs, so it's written as adilisik.com instead...and "Adil'i sik" means "Fuck Adil".(Not as in "Man, fuck that guy.", but as in sexually violate him.)
- America Online's font in the early 90's made lower-case "m" almost indistinguishable from lower-case "r" and "n" together ("rn"), giving fuel to early Internet Trolls to create fake names to "post as" anyone who had the misfortune of merely having a lower-case "m" or "rn" in their username. For instance "Mama" could be copied as "Marna" (And vice versa) and look exactly the same - even if you looked closely.
- http://weheartit.com/ is a photograph site, not a site about hearing boobs.
- The day of the death of Margaret Thatcher, one of the first hashtags to spring up on Twitter was #nowthatchersdead, created by a website critical of Thatcher. This spurred confusion among Cher fans, mostly Americans, who read it as “Now that Cher’s dead.” Soon other Twitter users, including comedian Ricky Gervais, started mocking these panicked fans.
- Mrs Edna Fry's second book, How To Have An Almost Perfect Marriage is frequently plugged on Twitter with the hashtag #HowToHaveAnAlmostPerfectMarriage. She has occasionally "accidentally" rendered this as #HowToHaveAnalMostPerfectMarriage.
- With Hurricane Sandy, CBS was promoting their group "CBS Cares". They averted the obvious "CB scares" by having the www.cbscares.com redirect to their website page which used an underscore for a space "cbs_cares".
- Regretsy has pointed out an Etsy store called scarfarts - they sell scarves, so it's meant to be read as "Scarf Arts", not "Scar Farts".
- A cheese shop founded by Ms Liz Godsell seems somewhat blasphemous at http://www.godsellscheese.com/
- At beverlyhillscabco.com, you cannot hire temporary workers while your employees are on strike, only taxicabs.
- This discontinued blog is about art and videogames and the name is meant to invoke "Pixels at an Exhibition". Not the blasphemous-sounding "Pixel Satan Exhibition"!
- The site vegastripping.com is devoted to taking trips to Las Vegas; it has nothing to do with a Street Fighter character's side job.
- In Johann Strauss's comic operetta Die Fledermaus, the governor of the local prison asks Frosch (the jailer who was on duty the previous night) if anything unusual happened, to which Frosch replies "Nichts, würdig Herr Direktor." ("Nothing, worthy governor.") The governor, however, hears it as "Nichtswürdig Herr Direktor" ("Unworthy governor"), and thinks he's being insulted until Frosch clarifies the statement.
- Crow gets confused in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: "A real therapist he was... or wait maybe it was 'rapist'..."
- In a similar vein, there's a mod/cheat utility program for Dwarf Fortress called Dwarf Therapist. This is not particularly funny until you notice that the URL for the program is http://code.google.com/p/dwarftherapist/ .
- Embraced, however, in typical dwarven fashion by the game's community, who regularly refer to it as "Dwarf TheRapist"
- The original Metroid had the Classic Cheat Code NARPAS SWORD. It doesn't stand for any particular sword, but rather "NAR Password" - the space was due to how the password input worked. There are various theories as to what NAR means, including "North American Release" and "Not A Real".
- Gabe Newell's email is 'email@example.com'. While not very conspicuous in text, it provides a fun soundbite when Gabe himself reads it in-game. Apparently, he is not too fond of this, opting for the letter-by-letter approach in later commentaries. This just made it worse.
- Like the "Flicker" example everywhere, Armored Core 4 and for Answer features a part called 09-FLICKER, which is a flashbang in rocket form. Pretty appropriate in both forms, as getting hit removes your ability to lock on to enemies for a certain time, and with mechs typically moving at blinding speeds, as well as the NPC enemies who do equip them are known to be That One Boss, you are seriously boned.
- A popular fan-made van paintjob in All Points Bulletin could be read differently wherever the side door was open or closed: it said "Ice Cream For Myself And Overachieving Children"
- Kirby's Epic Yarn. Go ahead and count how many people first saw this as Kirby's Epic Yam, made possible due to general knowledge that Kirby likes to eat things, and the fact that most sites renders in Arial which makes "r n" look like "m" (technically the same problem as the AOL entry under New Media, above).
- The box art for the games in the "Akiba's Trip" series does this on purpose, writing the name in all caps and not including a space between the S and the T. And it actually is a game about taking people's clothes off. (Because they're vampires who disintegrate in sunlight, you see...)
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police has a relatively innocent example in season two. Sam and Max discover a new garage in their neighborhood called "Pimp Le Car". Max asks "Sam, what's a pimple car?"
- In Homestuck, Rose's Chumhandle is "tentacleTherapist". While it has not led to an actual confusion, it's most certainly a nod to this.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures , this comic caused a bit of comical reaction in the forms when it came out over amber's choice of sound effect. Apparently, "click" is another word you have to be careful around with some lower-case fonts.
- In the twenty-third Eddsworld comic, Edd and Matt walk into a building marked "Therapists." After a beat panel, they walk out, with Edd commenting that "They really should make the space between "e" and "r" bigger..." Yeah, they were raped.
- For April Fools' Day 2012, The No Nad Ventures Of Wonderella took advantage of a possible misparsing of the page URL.
- The comic book "flick" scenario (see above) is deliberately invoked in Jet Dream. At the end of one story, Harmony (frustrated as the only T-Girl yet to pass her "Feminine Biology" training course) goes to the movies on a date. Afterwards, she says seeing the movie helped resolve her problem. Her date remarks "I knew you only needed one good flick!"
- Dark Legacy Comics has an In-Universe example here when Keydar decides to create a new alt character.
- The Young Turks have a movie reviews show appropriately called The What The Flick?! Show
- In Battle For Dream Island, Pen states that if he were to win Dream Island, he would name it "Pen Island, no spaces, all caps!" He probably doesn't realize it, but he's naming it PENISLAND.
- There's a Guitar Hero band on Score Hero called Pen And The Islands, in tribute to this trope.
- There is a person on YouTube with the account name Micioonthet, who once had to make a video explaining that his name is supposed to be read as "Micio on the T" and not "Micioon Thet".
- That Guy with the Glasses is inconsistent with abbreviating or not in URLs (Angry Joe is "aj" but Diamanda Hagan is fully spelled out). One is a deliberate aversion of this trope, as Todd in the Shadows goes by "tis" instead. (and hilariously/appropriately, Brad Jones is "bj")
- In one Smosh "If Apps were real" skit, they use Siri to direct them to a pen store called Pen Island, they end up in a place called Penisland. Relatedly, the People Eliminating Nefariousness club has only 15 members. That's right, "I <heart> PEN 15"! Wait...
- Programmers tend to abbreviate things in their code. This combined with the subject matter makes it possible to find combinations of letters and digits that look identical in certain fonts. Which can become quite the mess given that computers are fully ok with having both a variable called CLINT and one called CUNT that may be used for nearly the same thing. This is one of the reasons why programming is always done with monospace fonts.
- Apache Maven (a build manager for Java projects) uses a file called pom.xml (not porn.xml) for configuration.
- Used in an episode of Squid Billies, in reverse.
"No, no, I'm not a therapist. I'm The Rapist. A lot of people make that mistake."
- Yes, Pen Island is real. There are actually two Pen islands: East and West Pen island. They are part of several uninhabited arctic islands in Nunavut, Canada. West Pen Island is actually a spit, rather than an island. East Pen Island is situated off the shore of Ontario, a few kilometers southeast of Manitoba, and no, it's not a swallow.
- Pen Island is also a pen store.
"We Specialize In Wood".
- Once upon a time, there was a suite of educational software called "ViaGrafix". Cue many school bookkeepers wondering why they were being billed for something called "Viagrafix".
- Dord was listed as a synonym for density for a few years in Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary. When an editor tried to find the etymology of the word, he couldn't find any evidence that "dord" was actually a word. It eventually transpired that the source of "dord" was a slip of paper, reading "D or d: cont./density", which was intended for the entries for upper and lowercase 'd'. This phantom word propagated across dictionaries for a few years afterwards.
- Actor/comedian Donald Glover's twitter account used to be donglover (mentioned here).
- ABC Amber LIT Converter is abbreviated in the url as "abclit."
- On the Stanley Cup, 1944 Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant Manager Frank Selke (yes, that Selke), is listed as simply "F.J. Selke (Ass Man)"
- Assistant trainer Arc Campbell is listed as "Arc Campbell (Ass Train)".
- In Germany, Duschlampe (shower lamp) and Du Schlampe (you slut).
- This can be an issue in solving crossword puzzles since one has to guess the number of words in the answer. And even with the right number of words, guessing where one ends can be difficult.
- An odd form of Damn You, Muscle Memory which led to this trope popping up happened when users used to the file name limits of MS-DOS (and by extension, Windows 1.0 through 3.11) switched to using Windows 95 and later. They'd first keep naming their files as if they were still on the older operating system, then gradually stop abbreviating words in the file name, but still not use spaces, before finally using the long file names the way they were intended. The middle stage is where this trope cropped up. For example, a Doctor Who reference image might be named "doctorwhoref.png", and while the user might not notice anything odd about it, when they email it to someone to use as reference material, they're likely to get a snarky comment about the file name when they next hear from the recipient.
- Use of spaces in filenames remains awkward on command-line UNIX systems, keeping this problem around, though CamelCase or underscores_as_spaces or dashes-as-spaces can be used to avert it.
- One shop which fronts onto London Road in West Croydon used to be a video rental store called Flickers, and it had a painted advert on its rear wall (above the railway tracks) which can still be seen from Tamworth Road. It can be very startling when one sees it for the first time, and mistakes the LI for a U...
- THESPACEWASNOTINWIDEUSEUNTILAFTERCLASSICALANTIQUITY.CLASSICALHEBREW,GREEK,ANDLATINWERETYPICALLYWRITTENWITHOUTSPACES,OR· WITH·NOW-OBSCURE·DIACRITICS·TO·MARK·DISAMBIGUATING·WORD· BREAKS.
- It still isn't commonly used in many Asian languages, such as Japanese, so for a new learner of the language who can only write in kana, you can often end up with strings of phrases that, without kanji to identify the specific meaning, could have any number of wildly varying meanings.
- Japanese often places diacritics in between Katakana words, i.e. those imported from other languages, leading to confusion for new learners, i.e. "I can understand the sounds, but what do the dots mean?".
- The Urban Legend of the Chevy Nova's alleged failure in Latin America hinges on this; the claim is that since "no va" is Spanish for "it doesn't go", people didn't want to buy a car with that name. While the idea that customers would automatically conflate one word with two is absurd enough, where this fits the trope is the fact that "nova" itself is a word in Spanish. (Not to mention that, if you were to say "my car won't go", you'd say no funciona or no marcha, not no va). There's also no va (depending of the dialect) normally means It's doesn't combine or it doesn't mix.
- In Brazil there's a brand of baby diapers called "Pom-Pom"◊, and the font used doesn't help. It is at least awkward enough for English-speakers, since in Portuguese, "pornografia" is abbreviated "pornô".
- There's a real shop called "Kidsexchange". While not quite as potentially creepy, there's also a Kids Haven. If you just glimpse it as driving past, it can seem odd.
- Where a lot of the hilarity comes from in playing Mad Gab.
- Under certain fonts, the word "click" actually looks like "dick".
- God is Nowhere:
- Deliberately evoked (and subverted) by the Denver-based evangelical organization GODISNOWHERE. They've had a booth at the Capitol Hill People's Fair and the Taste of Colorado in Denver for well over a decade, and they count on atheists reading the phrase as "God is Nowhere," and then attempt to evangelize them when they come visiting what they think are like-minded individuals. People at the real atheist booth do their best to warn newcomers about this.
- This has shown up on actual church billboards, followed by "(read it again)", which doesn't guarantee a different interpretation, especially if you're driving past it.
- The video store MEGAFLICKS◊ probably should have been more careful with their font choice. As does Kids Exchange◊.
- A popular gay cruising and hangout spot in the city of Manchester, England, is Canal Street. Unfortunately, people—not always mischievous heteros—will insist on stealing two letters from the street signs so they read " ANAL TREET"
- Is PetSmart where you learn to pet intelligently or a mart where pets can buy things?
- Because many companies use the "first initial, last name" setup, it can lead so some issues with names that are traditionally common in one part of the world but are less so with immigration. Examples include:
- A now defunct British telecoms company gave their employees computer user names consisting of their surname followed by their initials. They did not deviate from this with K.S. Wan. This was particularly noticeable because computer printouts always featured the owner's user ID in enormous letters.
- Fairly common in Swedish thanks to people forgetting the rule that compound words have to be written as one word. Some classic examples include "Rökfritt" (No smoking) being written as "Rök fritt" (Smoke freely), "Djupfryst kycklinglever" (frozen chicken liver) as "Djup fryst kyckling lever" (profound frozen chicken lives), "Kassamedarbetare sökes" (tellers wanted) as "Kassa medarbetare sökes" (crappy co-workers wanted) or "brunhårig sjuksköterska" (brunette nurse) as "brun hårig sjuk sköterska" (brown hairy sickly caretaker).
- This page has several cases where an incorrect font changes one or two letters. Of note is Final Fantasy (specifically, Final Fantasy Tactics), where the first two letters change the whole meaning of the game.
- Comedian Billy Connolly relates travelling by now defunct American air carrier Trans-World airlines. A stewardess, who had evidently been taught this by rote, smiled and asked "Sir, would you like some of our T.W.A. coffee?" Without missing a beat, Connolly smiled back and said "No thanks, miss. But I'd really love to dip my tongue into your T.W.A. tea." The stewardess missed the joke entirely and Connolly got his cup of tea...
- British TV personality and sports commentator Stuart Hall decided to invest in a travel agent's shop bearing his name. Unfortunately the stationery had all been printed and the shop sign readied to go up before somebody noticed the thing with Stuart Hall International Travel.
- Stephen Fry's (since taken down) video celebrating his millionth follower on Twitter poked fun at this, with the premise being that Stephen was portraying a robot from the future who had been "erotically cloned" from Stephen, and who pronounces Stephen's name as "Step-Hen Fry".
- A Flash game titled What You See (Is What You Let to Be Seen) has a variation of this as one of its puzzles. In one level, you decode a secret message that spells out "notear", which could either be read as "not ear" or "no tear". The next level says "not about ears, not to tear anything", which reveals that the message is neither of those things. It's actually an anagram of "rate on".
- More than one person has looked at the company name Samsung and jokingly wondered "What did Sam sing?"
- The restaurant Porto Fino in downtown LA has a website at the url portofinodtla.com. There is no such thing as the Port of Inod, nor does this site have anything to do with a three-letter acronym.
- Anu's kitchen might want to pick a better name for their restaurant.
- The Wig and Pen had this problem while advertising that they were open for business.
- Small town of Kappeln in Germany has an even smaller quarter "Espenis". note . To add insult to injury, "es(s)"="eat!". So its name is literally "Suck My Dick"...
- Website http://www.cityofart.net/ is actually about art, not flatulence.
- Ladie's Skintimate shaving gel is the unexpectedly gross "Skin Tim ate".
- The New People building in San Francisco labels the floors to indicate what is on each floor. The 3rd floor is labeled "3F arts".note
- One early test case session for the Apple Macintosh's operating system ended with users complaining that the OS was calling them a dolt. It turns out that rendering the word Do It! in a san-serif font and with too small a space between both words is a bad idea (aside from the implication of the other meaning of do it). It was quickly changed to the industrial standard "OK".
- Crossed with Snipe Hunt — one midwestern church camp needed a sign at the entrance to the cabin areas warning RVs note off, since those roads were too narrow for large vehicles to maneuver easily. Instead of NO RVS BEYOND THIS POINT, the sign maker misplaced a space and gave them NORVS BEYOND THIS POINT. "Norvs" turned out to be a good way to keep the junior campers in their cabins after lights-out, so the sign was kept.
- This unfortunately named veterinary hospital in Brazil, PetSanus◊.
- Singer Susan Boyle had a new album out and held a party to publicise it. She put out an announcement on Twitter: Susan album party. Unfortunately, the resulting hashtag invited people to Su's Anal Bum Party.
- When getting a cake with a custom inscription, it's probably best to either phrase things very carefully, or make sure your baker has good handwriting and piping skills. A little bit of stray icing is all it takes for "HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLINT" to convey a rather different meaning than intended.