Monday, 2 June 2014

UKIP or Ukip?

Since their shock victory at the European elections, one issue that has continued to frustrate Ukip supporters is the spelling of the party’s name in the media.  The party itself spells its name UKIP, but newspapers tend to use just the single capital: Ukip.  This is not a question of political allegiance, since it appears this way in both The Guardian and The Telegraph newspapers; it is rather an issue of House Style.  Both newspaper Style Guides make a distinction between acronyms, where the individual letters are pronounced as a single word, eg Nato, Nasa, and initialisms, pronounced as a series of initials, eg BBC, UK.  Since Ukip is an acronym rather than an initialism, the issue is straightforward.  Tom Chivers, writing in The Telegraph, suspected that Ukip supporters object because it emphasizes the word ‘kip’, which invokes images of kippers and snoozes.  Admitting to chuckling to himself every time he types Ukip, Chivers’s article attracted 1568 comments, many of them from angry Ukip supporters defending the UKIP spelling and viewing Ukip as a deliberate attempt to belittle the party and its views.  But while the paper's policy seems clear enough, there are some inconsistencies: LOL is generally spelled in uppercase even though most people now pronounce it ‘lol’ rather than ‘L-O-L’, while VAT can be pronounced either as a single word or a series of initials.
            But while Ukip supporters might bemoan the papers’ misspelling of their party’s name, their representatives are similarly prone to unfortunate spelling slips. A tweet sent from the party’s official Twitter account during the debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg called on voters to take control of our ‘boarders’ – either a spelling mistake or a change of policy designed to target rogue landlords.  Frank Maloney, Ukip candidate for Barking, launched his poster campaign with the slogan: ‘Frank Maloney - Fighting for Barking and Fighting for Britian’.  When challenged on his spelling of Britain, Maloney claimed it was a deliberate ploy to get people talking about him.  Well, it certainly achieved that goal. According to an article in the Sunday Telegraph, Ukip’s founder, Professor Alan Sked, once tried to oust Nigel Farage from the party because of his poor spelling and grammar, including the heinous crime of being unable to distinguish its and it’s.  But since politicians are renowned for their spelling gaffes – think of Tony Blair’s toomorrow, Michael Gove’s bureuacracy and Dan Quayle’s potatoe – perhaps it is no surprise that Ukip is on the rise.
Spelling Trouble rallies the electorate

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