Names and words are sometimes intentionally and satirically misspelled for a rhetorical purpose. This is often done by replacing a letter with another letter (for example, "k" replacing "c"), or symbol (for example, $ replacing s). This is found particularly in informal writing on the Internet, but can also be found in some serious political writing that opposes the status quo.
Replacing the letter "c" with "k" in the first letter of a word came into use by the Ku Klux Klan during its early years in the mid to late 1800s. The concept is continued today within the ranks of the Klan. They call themselves "konservative KKK."
In the 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, leftists, particularly the Yippies, sometimes used Amerika rather than "America" in referring to the United States. It is still used as a political statement today. It is likely that this was originally an allusion to the German spelling of America, and intended to be suggestive of Nazism, a hypothesis that the Oxford English Dictionary supports.
In broader usage, the replacement of the letter "C" with "K" denotes general political skepticism about the topic at hand and is intended to discredit or debase the term in which the replacement occurs. Detractors sometimes spell former president Bill Clinton's name as "Klinton" or "Klintoon".
A similar usage in Spanish (and in Italian and Portuguese too) is to write okupa rather than "ocupa" (often on a building or area occupied by squatters , referring to the name adopted by okupación activist groups), which is particularly remarkable because the letter "k" is found in neither Spanish nor Italian nor Portuguese words. It stems from Spanish anarchist and punk movements which used "k" to signal rebellion .
The letter "C" is also commonly changed to a "K" in a non-pejorative way in the KDE Desktop Environment, a component of many Linux distributions.
The most common usage of the letters "kkk" in politically satiric misspelling is the spelling of "America" as Amerikkka. A reference to the Ku Klux Klan, this is often done to indicate the belief that the United States or American society is fundamentally racist. The earliest known usage of "Amerikkka" recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is in 1970, in a journal called Black World. Presumably, this was an extrapolation from the then already widespread "Amerika".
The San Francisco Bay View regularly spells America as "Amerikkka".
The letters "KKK" have been inserted into many other words, to indicate similar perceived racism, oppression or corruption. Common satiric spellings include:
The dollar sign can be inserted in the place of the letter "S", the euro sign in place of "E", or the pound sign in place of "L" to indicate plutocracy, greed, corruption, or the perceived immoral or unethical accumulation of money. For example:
A recent related usage is replacing "E" with the Euro sign ("€") as in €$$O, €urope , and €C (used by critics of the European Commission who accuse it of involvement in bribery and corruption). Another related usage is replacing "Y" with a Yen sign (¥).
Since at least 1980, Anarchists have used the "at sign" ("@") as a representation of the circled letter A. This has been extended to substituting it for the letter "A" as in the Crass fanzine "Toxic Gr@fity"
This may have influenced the usage in Spanish and other Romance languages of this symbol as a substitute for gender-specific language. For example, the Spanish and Portuguese words "amigo" and "amiga" would be replaced with amig@. The character is intended to resemble a mix of the letters "o" and "a". According to the Portuguese and Spanish grammar, this "mix" is unnecessary as the masculine grammatical gender is inclusive (it can refer to both males and females), while the feminine gender is exclusive (only for females). There is no English-like neuter gender in either Spanish or Portuguese.
With the rise of the internet, the "@" has been extensively used to denote internet-related material or companies, and as such has lost its previous connotations to most readers.
Occasionally a word written in its orthodox spelling is altered with internal capital letters, hyphens, italics, or other devices so as to highlight a fortuitous pun.
After the controversial U.S. presidential election, 2000, the alleged improprieties of the election prompted the use of such titles as pResident and (p)resident for George W. Bush. The same effects were also used for Bill Clinton during and after Clinton's impeachment hearings. These devices were intended to suggest that the president was merely the resident of the White House rather than the legitimate president of the US.
The perception that membership in the United Nations is counter to US interests is denoted by the terms Un-ited Nations or EU-nited Nations (similarity to EU - European Union). Similarly, the perception that the United Nations is ineffectual (castrated) is denoted by the term EUN-ited Nations (similarity to eunuch).
In French, where con is an insulting word meaning 'moron', the word conservateur 'conservative' has been written con-servateur , con… servateur , or con(servateur) In a same intent, the neoconservatives are often called neo-cons in newspapers.
Intentional misspellings, or spellings used to emphasize dialect, are often used to suggest illiteracy or ignorance. Thus pubblik skoolz, or public screwels, the latter initially associated with talk radio. Individual schools are also treated this way, "Hahvahd" and "Nucular" being well-known examples. Journalists may make a politicized editorial decision by choosing to differentially retain misspelled words, mispronounced words, dialect variants, or interjections. A similar phenomenon would be T-shirts saying "I is a kollege stoodent" or some such, suggesting that college students are ignorant.
Along the same lines, intentional misspellings can be used to promote a specific negative attribute, real or perceived, of a product or service. This is especially effective if the misspelling is done by replacing part of the word with another that has identical phonetic qualities. For example, the term "Windoze", which emerged on Usenet in the early 1990s and was subsequently added to the Jargon File, is used in reference to Microsoft Windows; this alludes to criticism of its slow and unreliable performance issues.
Some toponyms are also spelt differently in order to emphasize some political view. For instance, Brasil (the Portuguese spelling of "Brazil"), is sometimes misconstrued as a typo for Brazil in English texts. Alternatively, the English spelling Brazil is used in Portuguese pieces of text as a way to denote Anti-Americanism or Anti-globalization sentiment.