Google's anti-American stance on spelling the Habsburgs will upset Conservapedia

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 28 February 2007

Yesterday, as he often does, Dave pointed me to something on the web that I enjoved investigating further - the Conservapedia.

20070228_conservapedia.gif

This is a wiki set up to counter the "clear" anti-Christian and anti-American bias of Wikipedia. Dave's post pretty much deals straight away with the main flaws of the project, and points to a page that they keep, documenting the evidence of the 'bias' in Wikipedia. I was struck very much by one point:

Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English speaking users are American....Enter "Hapsburg" (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been "Hapsburg". Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.

Now, since I have been living in Austria for a few months, and I'm a student of history by academic trade, I was curious about this assertion. As it happens, I've been reading up on my Habsburg dynastic history, since so much of it revolves around the family's stewardship of the lands that now form modern Austria.

What particularly intrigued me therefore, was the claim by the Conservapedia that the American spelling of Habsburg has always been Hapsburg.

For me it begged the question, what about when the Portugeuse and Spaniards were exploring the "new" world of the Americas, and Habsburg Kings were sitting on the thrones of Portugal and Spain? Did the conquistadors somehow automatically lose the power of European spelling as they crossed the Atlantic?

Or, perhaps, when the Conservapedia contributors cite "Hapsburg" as always being the American spelling, they instead mean from the time of the declaration of American independence? I'm willing to be corrected, but I'm unaware that 1776 also marked a watershed in the way that Habsburg ought to be spelt.

Or are they simply asserting that 21st century Conservapedians know better how to spell a family name than the people from the family itself? Who nearly a thousand years before wikis were invented named themselves after the Hawk Castle in modern day Switzerland that became the seat of their ancestral power?

Actually, as it turned out, on my quest to discover when the 'p' variation first entered the family name, I wasn't able to track it down. In fact I found that the European branch of the family used both spellings, and sometimes even wrote their name without either the offending 'b' or the 'p', as Hasburg.

Still, from my research I do have some very bad news for the Conservapedians.

It turns out that when you search Google for "Hapsburg", they, like Wikipedia, also auto-correct it to the un-American spelling, and present results where the text on the page in fact says "Habsburg".

20070228_google-habsburg.gif

It looks like the folks at Conservapedia are going to have to start up a Conserva-oogle as well.

2 Comments

i am not sure but maybe the illuminati could have something to do with it they were refounded in the year that you mentioned

In German a letter 'b' in the middle of a word, such as 'Habsburg', is pronounced like the letter 'p' in English. The 'Hapsburg' variation is a misspelling of the name.

American orthography in general is a silly, widespread whim of Noah Webster. I am an American and use traditional English spellings.

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