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Misspelled! February 6, 2007

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, humor, internet, italian blogs, news, personal, physics, science, Uncategorized.

My recent rant  about growing old is still hot in the press, and here I am, posting another rant. Maybe I am indeed growing old and bitter.

The fact is, everybody loves to be quoted. In the blogosphere, sure, but even more so if it is in a respected, widely known magazine on scientific divulgation . That is, unless they get your name wrong!

It is TOMMASO! T-o-m-m-a-s-o! There. Not that hard, huh ? Why is it that most English-speaking johns end up writing it down and even speaking it up as Tomasso ?

The fact that Tomasso sounds like Tom-ass-**** only adds insult to injury, of course.

However, if the NS journalist who interviewed me on the phone the other week should happen to read this: please don’t feel bad or apologize… You are only the last of a long list. I have sort of metabolized it, until I saw it written on tens of thousands of printed pages.

Oh well. I guess I will get it over with. That is, until they’ll start misquoting me. For that I retain a reserve of indignation.

PS: thanks to my friend David for bringing it up to my attention, and even  writing about it.



1. Kea - February 6, 2007

I know how you feel. My first name and my surname gets misspelled ALL THE TIME. And it’s an English name! You have to admit, though, Tomasso/Tomato – has a nice ring to it.

2. Kea - February 6, 2007

OK, I looked at the link. Er, they make it sound like a Higgs discovery is right around the corner. You never said that, Tommaso (Tomato).

3. dorigo - February 6, 2007

Hi Kea, aka Marni Dee Sheppeard,

Sure, they make it look close… But that is their fault, not mine, and I am not directly involved in their optimism! So I don’t feel bad about that too.


4. Carl Brannen - February 7, 2007

Some sympathy. My surname, “Brannen”, is solidly English, originally meaning “bran kin”, bran being the old English word for raven, but it has the misfortune of being very similar to a very common Irish surname, “Brennan”.

Voila, doing a search for “Carl Brennan” plus “particle” and “physics” gets three hits, two from Clifford’s Assymptotia.

5. Jennifer Ouellette - February 7, 2007

With me, it’s my last name that constantly gets mis-spelled, mis-pronounced etc. It happens all the time, and it’s usually honest error. Magazine articles go through several stages of editing, and even if it starts out right in the draft manuscript, by the time it gets to the final layout stage, it’s been through so many hands, that tiny errors (like name mis-spellings) still manage to creep in….

6. Bee - February 7, 2007

Dear T-o-m-m-a-s-o!

ah, in case I ever misspelled your name, let me assure it wasn’t on purpose. How about just ‘Tom’ would that be okay? Say, if spoken aloud is it a a long, or a short ‘s’? I mean, does it rhyme to Picasso, or told-you-so?

Btw, you wouldn’t believe (or maybe you do) in how many versions I’ve seen my name. Starting from Sabina, Sabrina, over Sabeen, Zabeen, Zippina to Abeenee. Needless to say, all native English speakers mispronounce my name by dropping the ‘e’ in the end. I won’t even start with my last name, it’s a complete disaster. That’s why I settled on Bee. Everybody knows how to pronounce it. (The last two syllables of my first name are the German word for Bee, a nickname I’ve had since I was a toddler).

Anyway, most often, the people scrambling up names are as embarrassed as you are annoyed 😉

All the best

7. Tony Smith - February 7, 2007

For the record, I apologize for times when I also misspelled your name.

Anyhow, I just did a google search for “Tomasso Dorigo”.
Google is smart enough to think that is an error, so google immediately asks “Did you mean: “Tommaso Dorigo””, which is good.

google explicitly lists 11 (evidently out of a total of 18) web sites with “Tomasso Dorigo”:


Of those 11, it looks to me as though 4 of them


are pretty much quoting or summarizing http://www.newscientist.com so it is evident that New Scientist is influential and that its stories (errors and all) get propagated, and maybe become part of the informal collective memory of the web.

It is sort of strange that 2 of them


are CDF sites, and

that 2 of them


are physics sites where your name is (or should be) known.

As to dorigo.wordpress.com , google says that the term “Tomasso Dorigo” “… only appear[s] in links pointing to this page …”, so no bad spelling is shown on your blog web page.

For comparison.
a google search for “Tommaso Dorigo” shows “about 28,300” hits, so I guess the question is whether an error rate of “about” 18 / ( 28,300 + 18 ) is acceptable ?

Tony Smith

8. dorigo - February 7, 2007

Hi Carl,

you misspelled Asymptotia in the end of your comment above, is that a Freudian slip or a conscious revenge ? 🙂


9. dorigo - February 7, 2007

Ok, Jennifer, now how do you pronounce your last name ? You got me curious.


10. dorigo - February 7, 2007

Hey Bee,

Zippina is quite nice! Whoever cooked that up ?

Tom is fine with me, my mother calls me that way, believe it or not!

As for the sound of “Tommaso”, it is more like “told you so”, but with a soft “s” as in cheese (which I can’t eat btw).


11. dorigo - February 7, 2007

Hi Tony,

you need not apologize… We all make these mistakes and indeed, nobody gets offended.

And thank you for your interesting internet research. Indeed, the signal to noise is good enough, and the fact that google goes as far as to suggest my right name is a very good thing.

Yes, the 2 CDF hits speak of the fact that I have members of my collaboration who have known me for 15 years, have read tens of notes with my name well printed on top of them, have assisted to dozens of presentations with my name on each slide, and still… They can’t get my name right for the life of them.

Oh well…


12. Bee - February 7, 2007

Zippina is quite nice! Whoever cooked that up ?

A creative Starbucks employer named Mary in Tucson, Arizona. She managed to cook up this version of my name despite the fact that I spelled it. Twice (the second spelling changed an ‘e’ into the second ‘i’).

13. Andrea Giammanco - February 7, 2007

I got credited as Jiammanco several times, but in this case it’s understandable, for phonetic reasons…
I’ve also noted that Tommaso becomes Tomasso very often, not only in your case. Anglophones have serious troubles with double consonants…

14. anonymous - February 7, 2007

Sabine said:

all native English speakers mispronounce my name by dropping the ‘e’ in the end

Not all of us would do that. But I have to wonder, how often native English speakers pronounced it like “Say Bein”? (Err, “say” in the English pronunciation, “bein” in the German.) That’s what I would expect from the less German-literate….

15. Bee - February 7, 2007

Not all of us would do that.

Sure, sorry for that. And most learn quickly. Also, I wonder how many names I mispronounce. I’m always relieved if somebody is ‘Mike’. If you ask me, all parents should name their children Mike 😉 The way my name is pronounced depends on whether they read it first, or hear it first. Reading most often leads to Say Bein (or How-do-you-pronounce-your-name?). Hearing is more likely to result in complete confusion, especially if written down after this (most likely outcome Sabrina).

16. Carl Brannen - February 8, 2007

Dorigo, that is my mispelling of asymptotia. It just seems to me that it should start assym. I am not alone, but that doesn’t make me right.

17. Helge - February 8, 2007

Hi Tom,

I always write that. Sometimes also just T. 😉 I often prefer shorter names …. 😉


18. nc - March 1, 2007

Hi Tommaso,

Just to let you know, the New Scientist has misspelled your name as Tomasso Dorigo, TWICE on page 11 of the 3 March 2007 print edition. It is in an article called “Glimpses of the God Particle? (Special Report: Higgs Boson)” written by Anil Ananthaswamy:

“Tomasso Dorigo or the University of Padua in Italy has put his money where his mouth is. A believer in the standard model of particle physics, Dorigo has bet his theorist friends a cool $1000 that it’s the right description of reality.”

It goes on to mention the anomalous events at 160 GeV in the decay of Z gauge bosons to bottom quarks in the CDF experiment, suggesting that this may be a supersymmetric Higgs boson, although it quotes your reservations about the limited amount of evidence so far for making that claim.

19. dorigo - March 1, 2007

Hi NC,

thank you very much for pointing that out. I know, people will continue to misspell my name until my last breath. What can I do….

About the subject of Anil’s piece, you can find more information on my post from today (March 1st).


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