Why are the bulk of misspellings of Samuel Johnson (Jhonson) by South Asians and Spanish speakers?

Curious that someone values someone else’s wisdom enough to quote him, but not enough to spell his name correctly. Checking in Google Books, is it that the French, the Germans, etc don’t (pretend to) read Johnson, don’t care to confess it, prefer carefully constructed argument over appeals to authorities?

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  1. Apart from wondering whether Spanish speakers tend more towards irrationality than their northern neighbours, you might also ask whether there is some moth-like belief that in English spelling the “h” always comes after a consonant. I’m making it up.

  2. My middle name is John, almost always written by Spaniards as ‘Jhon’. I suppose, as A Nun suggests, it seems more natural that way. Just as ‘ligth’ seems more natural than ‘light’.

  3. I was just now thinking about explaining “Jhon” from a phonemic perspective, but I’m not getting anywhere: standard Catalan Catalan speakers can say it OK because they’ve got the /Ê’/, which is close enough to the standard English /dÊ’/, but they still spell it that way; and I think most younger peninsular Spanish speakers have assimilated the correctish pronunciation of “John Lennon” to a sufficient extent to enable them to perform the sound effectively (although there’s still a lot of “Yenifer López” about) but the orthography is still a problem.

    I vote that non-Germanics should be excused whichever way they spell “light.” It’s a pretty obscure artefact.

  4. Is it not just that h must be in front of a vowel in Asturo-Leo-Casto-Gallego and Cata-Val-Bal-Occi-Algherse?

  5. Let us stop the joking and mourn Etta Yames, heard this morning on RTVE. If the Basque terrorist ceasefire doesn’t hold, maybe they could in homage introduce a range of grenades called “ETA yams”.

  6. I think that rumours of her death may have been greatly exaggerated – she’s figured that she’d only start making money from her back-catalogue when the obits went to press.

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