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Article: Unintentional Changes

Posted by Admin on January 13, 2016

Living languages are fluid.  New words are added while archaic words are left to gather dust on the shelf.  Sometimes new words are a result of invented words authors have created to fit their stories.  Sometimes new words are a result of misspelling.  And in the case I’m about to share, should this word ever become a new word included in the dictionary, it will be as a result of ignorance and social media oversharing.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) published a story on their website that has its roots as much in politics as it does in social media with a side trip to whole language reading and writing, and illiteracy.  Earlier this week, Kevin O’Leary offered to invest $1 Million CDN into Alberta’s energy industry on the condition that Premier Rachel Notley resign.  This in turn led to a number of spirited discussions on social media, with some defending O’Leary, and others defending Notley.

One of these discussions yielded this exchange among some Facebook people.


Needless to say, the “new” word kudatah is actually a misspelling of the real phrase (which is made up of two words), coup d’état which, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means a “violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.”  The pronunciation of this phrase is kü-dā-ˈtä or phonetically speaking koo-day-tah.

It’s easy to see how someone who struggles with a language (even if it’s the person’s mother tongue) could spell the word with quotation marks as Maure Kyle did.

INTERESTING NOTE 1:  Maure Kyle has since deactived his Facebook account.

Tyler Bienderra came to Maure Kyle’s defense when others pointed out Maure Kyle’s spelling mistake.  He insisted that Maure Kyle was using the English spelling and not the French spelling of the word (points to Tyler for creativity), dragging misspellings of his own into the discussion.

When the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) published an article on their website about the discussion, Tyler defended his use of the word spelt by arguing that it could be spelled that way and be correct.  Except that Tyler is from Grande Prairie, Alberta in Canada and because of this, his defense fails miserably.

If you live in Canada or the U.S., the accepted use is spelled.  If you live in the UK, the accepted use is spelt although spelled is generally accepted.  Spelt is used in North America to refer to a kind of wheat.  But regardless of how he chose to spell the phrase — spelled or spelt — what made his comment humorous was the fact that coup d’état in French is written exactly the same way in English.

This situation has yielded a great many memes included this politically charged meme poking fun at both the misspelled word and the suggestion made by Maure Kyle.

Kudatah Happening Soon

There was also this meme that incorporated a nice Lion King Disney feel to it for added political punch.

Kudatah Matata

This meme had Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride” deliver the message that the word in question didn’t exist.

Kudatah_Princess Bride

And, of course, if you’re going to lay claim to using the UK spelling of the word spelled, and you insist on defending the murder of a perfectly good phrase like coup d’état, the Queen of England absolutely must weigh in on the matter, meme-wise.


Whole language reading and writing is a sight-based only method that leaves the individual without strategies for reading unknown words.  It also relies heavily on guessing, and encourages “invented” spelling.

Studies have proven the phonics instruction is superior to whole language instruction as those who were taught phonics have strong word identification, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension skills which are very weak in those who were taught whole language instead.

However if social media and the #kudatah hashtag are sufficiently influential, it’s possible that within a few years, the word could find its way into the dictionary regardless of whether language purists agree.  Still, this is the way words,phrases, idioms, expression, clichés, sayings, et al change over the generations.

Elyse Bruce
Owner and Author
Idiomation: Historically Speaking

P.S.  Kudatah, I am led to believe, is the name that J.J. Abrams considered for Princess Leia and Han Solo’s son before he settled on Benjamin Kylo Ren — or Ben Ren to his friends.

One Response to “Article: Unintentional Changes”

  1. Sharon Wezniak said

    Poor Maure. We all make mistakes. However, when it’s a spelling error made by a very wealthy American company abroad, that’s truly a shame! There was a bar I went to in Singapore atop the Marina Bay Sands Casino/Hotel called, “Ku De Ta.” It has recently closed, and there is a new bar in its place called, “Ce La Vi,” instead of C’est la vie. Crikey! It’s enough to make this American LOL.

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