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Aug. 26, 2008 at 6:00 AM
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'Supersede' most often misspelled

GLASGOW, Scotland, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Collins Dictionaries of Britain said its researchers have estimated that the most commonly misspelled word in the English language is "supersede."

The company said the word is misspelled one out of every 10 times it is used because many other words with phonetically similar endings -- such as intercede and precede -- are spelled with the letter "c" instead of "s," The Daily Telegraph reported.

The researchers said they arrived at their conclusions by using a software program that went through thousands of documents available on the Internet, including published books, blogs and news articles.

Collins said other commonly misspelled words -- including conscience, indict, foreign, mortgage and phlegm -- are challenging because they their spelling is different from their phonetic pronunciations.

"The real spelling problems occur when people have (learned) the rules or have a bit of knowledge, but then make mistakes in how they apply this," said Ian Brookes, the managing editor of dictionaries at Collins.


Zoo's mating apes awaken residents

BRISTOL, England, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- England's Bristol Zoo has announced its pair of gibbons have been given a curfew to prevent their mating songs from disturbing sleeping neighbors.

The zoo said the gibbons, Duana, 7, and Samuel, 11, will be confined to their housing units on "Gibbon Island" for three nights a week, after Bristol residents complained that the loud singing that makes up part of the primates' mating ritual has been waking them up in the early morning hours, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Bristol City Council upheld the noise complaints after environmental health officers monitored the singing for several nights.

The gibbons were previously allowed outside whenever they wished through use of a door in their housing unit.

"The gibbons are very noisy at daybreak and in the evening. The female, in particular, makes a very distinctive call," said Phyllis Farmer, a resident who lives near the zoo. "There was no one supervising them after 6 p.m. and they more or less had the run of the place. There is a school very close to the zoo and they must hear them all the time. I wondered if one of the pupils sitting exams might be bright enough to write on his paper that he couldn't concentrate because of the noise."


Man claims Virgin Mary in neighbor's tree

SCARBOROUGH, Ontario, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A Scarborough, Ontario, man claims an image of the Virgin Mary has appeared in the bark of a tree outside his home.

Christopher Moreau, 47, said he first noticed the image of Jesus' mother with her arms outstretched on a tree in his neighbor's yard last week, The Toronto Star reported Monday.

"I don't know why it's there, but I think it's a blessing," Moreau said. "It raises the hair on your neck, it gives you chills."

Moreau said the first person he showed the image to was his mother-in-law, who was given a clear bill of health last week after a fight with cancer.

"At first I thought I was seeing things," he said. "Then I went and got my mother-in-law to tell her. She was overwhelmed by it. She was crying."

He said the divine image has attracted the attention of his neighbors, as well.

"Some of the neighbors have seen it and they just started shaking," Moreau said.


Priest organizes nun beauty contest

MONDRAGONE, Italy, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A Mondragone, Italy, priest says he expects at least 1,000 women to enter his Sister Italia beauty contest, which is open only to nuns.

Father Antonio Rungi said the Sister Italia contest is a strictly online venture but he expressed hope that high participation would allow the event to flourish into a full-fledged pageant, The Times of London reported Monday.

Rungi said the entrants, who must be between ages 18 and 40, would be judged primarily on "inner beauty" and would not be asked to wear swimsuits or any other revealing outfit. He said the contest is open to any novices or full members of an order, even if the order is not based in Italy.

"Do you really think nuns are all wizened, funereal old ladies? Today it's not like that any more, thanks to an injection of youth and vitality brought to our country by foreign girls," Rungi said.

He said some nuns from Africa and Latin America are "really very, very pretty. The Brazilian girls above all."

The priest said voting for the contest will begin next month.

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