We miss you, Micheal

Rhodri Marsden

102392605 300x206 We miss you, MichealA year ago today, Michael Jackson died. Across the world, people are paying their tributes. All nine Madame Tussauds attractions across the globe have wheeled out eerily waxwork-like Jackson figurines and stationed them in the lobby. In Tooting, I’m listening to Rock With You while drumming my fingers on the desk in time to the music. In Tokyo, fifty Jackson obsessives have paid over $1000 each to spend the night with some of his belongings, including awards, gloves and a car. (I’m not even joking.) And on Twitter, messages have been pouring forth all morning, saluting the King of Pop. 19 year-old Claire from Brooklyn submitted a typically breathless, punctuationless tribute: “RIP Micheal Jackson today marks one year since you’ve been gone we miss you”. Moving stuff.

As a result, “Micheal Jackson” is now the top trending topic on Twitter. “Michael Jackson”, whoever he might be, is nowhere to be seen. It’s hard to know how this state of affairs has come about. I mean, if you read “Micheal” as it looks, it just sounds wrong. Mike-eel. If they’d stuck an accent on it and put “Micheál”, at least that would be a real name – but Michael Jackson wasn’t Irish, not even a little bit. (Try singing “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” with an Dublin accent – it’s disappointing.) If you ponder it, phonetically, for more than a second, “Michael” clearly makes more sense. But this is Twitter. People don’t ponder anything for more than a second. And, as not that many English words have the dipthong “ae” in them, force of habit has to account for it. Then again, there’s only one word in English that ends with a double G, and misspelling of “egg” generally isn’t considered a major problem in the English-speaking world.

A certain amount of the blame might be laid at the door of R&B star Ne-Yo, who was one of the first to tweet his feelings about Micheal on this special day. He realised his mistake a few minutes later and submitted this sombre apology: “My bad….spelled Mike’s name wrong!! MICHAEL Jackson!! See? That’s what happens sleepy n’ typing fast at 4 in the morning. LMAO!” But by that stage his tweet had been reposted by thousands of people who probably think that “heamoglobin” looks alright, and wouldn’t raise a quizzical eyebrow if they saw a book with “Easop’s Fables” written on the front.

And, as is often the case with Twitter, this is now becoming a self-perpetuating state of affairs. Those who rail against the misspelling of Michael are expressing their indignation by posting references to “Micheal Jackson” too, thus keeping it buoyant in the list, thus allowing more people to become aggrieved by it.

If people had a passing knowledge of Hebrew, as I obviously don’t but can reasonably pretend to having spent 15 seconds referring to a website, they’d know that Michael comes from the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha’el) meaning “who is like God?”. This is a rhetorical question, implying that no-one is like God. “Micheal” is also a rhetorical question, roughly translated as “for crying out loud, why can’t people spell?”

Photo: Getty Images

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  • Ben Beaumont-Thomas

    From Lee Ryan (formerly of Blue) today: “How comes when people who try to make a change for good in the world end up dying mysterious deaths? Diana, lennon, micheal jackson, ect ect”. Sic and wrong.

  • Kat Arney

    Hurrah for pedantry! Is there anyone else who gets really annoyed with the Stella adverts claiming “less glass, less CO2 emissions”. Surely FEWER emissions, dammit…

  • Larry Ryan

    Saying “Wanna be startin’ somethin’” in a Dublin accent sounds pretty threatening. Reckon it would be followed with a headbutt, rather than a Jackson crotch-grab.

  • Rhodri Marsden

    Also lends a sinister air to the third chorus when he sings “And the pain is thunder, yeah, yeah, you’re a vegetable, you’re a vegetable, still they hate you, you’re a vegetable.” Brr.

  • Matt

    You do realise that the TTs can also be explained by the fact that Twitter has blocked ‘Michael Jackson’ from being a topic, so lots of people are typing it the other way, right?

    Just checking.

  • KatSommers

    Is there a better pop song about paranoia? Like his best stuff, totally delusional and batshit crazy. I miss him.

  • Rhodri Marsden

    I didn’t know Twitter had blocked it, but I can’t believe that people are bothering to deliberately spell Michael Jackson wrongly purely to get it trending. Then again, the internet’s a strange place.

  • monicafont

    Hi Rhodri , i love your articel :) )

  • Yanni Slavov

    He’s death is one of the biggest hoaxes ever, a man with that much fame and debt doesn’t just die ,this much I know . Did u see he’s funeral ,you must be naive to believe all this ,the man is alive and well somewhere kicking back watching the news petting a monkey.

  • Yanni Slavov

    He's death is one of the biggest hoaxes ever, a man with that much fame and debt doesn't just die ,this much I know . Did u see he's funeral ,you must be naive to believe all this ,the man is alive and well somewhere kicking back watching the news petting a monkey.

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