• The Many Spellings of “Frakt”

    Acknowledgments: Four other Frakts provided helpful comments on early drafts of this post (my mom, dad, uncle, and cousin David).

    “Frakt” is a funny and unusual name. The only real-world language in which it has literal meaning is Swedish: “cargo” or “freight”. There is also the German “fraktion” which roughly means “a political party within a parliamentary body.” I might be mistaken for German, though I am not, and I don’t look a bit Swedish. I can’t sing Dancing Queen to save my life, and I am unable to carry much cargo.

    Yet my wise uncle has told me that a Holocaust memorial in Prague indicates Frakts originated from an area of Lithuania that was once part of Sweden. Perhaps my ancestors were freight haulers after all, despite my low core body strength. There is also evidence that my ancestry traces to Minsk, or thereabouts.

    Having an unusual name is good and bad. There are very few Frakts in the world, and only a handful in the U.S. I am related to most or all of them. That’s handy as there is very little confusion of the type: “What kind of Frakt are you?” Also, when combined with the uncommon name “Austin” it provides an apparently unique identifier. Folks can find me online easily, which so far has been a good thing. So, I like my name.

    But, being an uncommon name with a funny spelling, people misspell it all the time. Below is a typology and some ways of remembering how not to spell “Frakt” and why. Need a handy way to remember how to spell it right? It is an anagram of “Kraft.” That ought to get you pretty close.

    Frankt. This is the most common misspelling of “Frakt.” It is so tempting to insert an “n” so it is closer to the familiar “Frank.” However, as I’m fond of saying, in the proper spelling the “n” is both silent and invisible.

    Frank. This is not so much a misspelling as just wrong. I have little sympathy for someone who both inserts the silent/invisible “n” and fails to notice the uttered/visible “t”. Doing so reflects poor attention to the obvious.

    Frak or Frack. The former is a Battlestar Gallactica minced oath. According to the Wikipedia entry on “Frak,” the latter is the original “Ye Olde Battlestare” spelling.

    Fralt. I see this on junk mail or typed address labels. My hypothesis is: typo. The “k” is next to the “l” on a QWERTY keyboard.

    Fralct or Fralet. These disasters come, I think, from an improper reading of a hand written version of “Frakt.” The “k” can look like “lc” or “le.”  In the “le” case there is also the cognitive dissonance of the adjacency of “k” (or “l”) and “t.” There must be a vowel in there somewhere, right? No. If I wrote the “Frakt” that is misread I take some responsibility.

    Fract. That’s close. I like the similarity to “fact.” It is possible this misspelling occurs when people only hear but don’t see the name. In that case, it could be forgiven, once. The same can be said of Frackt.

    Farkt. This bit of dyslexia is hard on the ego. Drop one letter and it really stinks.

    Other misspellings of “Frakt” like “very smart guy” or “idiot” are so far off that I need not comment. Although, the former is clearly a synonym so I understand the confusion. The latter is a type of psychological projection whereby the speaker or writer is really trying to say or write his or her own name.

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