Handling sleeve misspellings

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Hi all,

if an artist obviously misspells a phrase (on the sleeve or vinyl label) like ‘a cappella’ as ‘Acappella’ in a song title - should we let it stand or correct it?


As a general rule, MusicBrainz editors should correct spelling and punctuation and, to a lesser extent, grammar errors in artists’ names, as well as the titles of works, recordings, tracks and releases. However, this rule does not apply if it can be shown that an artist intentionally used unorthodox spelling, punctuation or grammar.

(from https://musicbrainz.org/doc/Style/Principle/Error_correction_and_artist_intent)

If they consistently use “acappella” in multiple places, it probably qualifies as artist intent. If it’s just one occurrence, it should probably be corrected.



I’m actually inclined to let ‘Acappella’ stand because, if it’s not already, it will probably be an accepted spelling in the future. To me, although I don’t like it, it’s not an obvious misspelling or a typo. In language, enough wrong people are right.

Do you agree?



A cappella is coming from Italian alla cappella through French. In French, since 1990, it can be written à capella (officially). But in Latin, that’s capella with one P. Both are accepted. It means “comme à la chapelle” in French. chapelle comes from Latin capella.

acapella or acappella is an American incorrect spelling of French/Italian/Latin words, and will never be correct, it makes no sense at all.

See also: http://www.richardsramblings.com/2013/08/a-cappella/

In doubt, do not change it. Correct spelling depends on language.

For example, if an album is religious music, with titles in Latin, correct spelling would be a capella.
If Italian, a cappella, and prolly a capella is correct too.
If French, a capella, a cappella or à capella are all correct.


Or they just consistently misspelled it, without any intent.


If I had a dollar for each time someone said “the spelling of [word] will NEVER be correct” and were later proven wrong - I’d have at least a dollar. While I fully understand the etymology of ‘a cappella’, and shudder at the spelling ‘acappella’, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that the common usage of the latter will become accepted. Usage of acappella vs. a cappella vs a capella. That little blue line will eventiually overtake the others.

No-one will ever spell ‘orange’ without the leading ‘n’…


AFAIK this locution is used worldwide, not only by Americans, and the fact they are unable to write it as it should doesn’t make them right. It comes from French, which is my native language, you ask how you should write it, i tell you with complete explanation, but you still think you’re correct. OK, end of discussion.

This little blue line is just what it is, a minority of people spelling it incorrectly. It’s not about how “later” it could be written, but on how it is currently written. Languages are evolving, and may be in 500 years this locution will be written differently, why would you anticipate this ?



Also, to be complete on this subject, American professor Paul Brians (https://brians.wsu.edu/), Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, wrote a book called Common Errors in English Usage, here what he wrote about this subject:

In referring to singing unaccompanied by instruments, the traditional spelling is the Italian one, a cappella : two words, two P s, two L s. The Latin spelling a capella is learned, but in the realm of musical terminology, we usually stick with Italian. The one-word spelling “acapella” is widely used by Americans, including by some performing groups, but this is generally regarded by musical experts as an error.

Source: https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/05/16/acapella-a-capella/

My personnal preference is to use a cappella because it comes from Italian (which comes from Latin), and this is the most common form. But since MusicBrainz is all about music, it makes even more sense to use Italian form, rather than Latin (a capella) or French (à capella).

Other interesting links:


It’s funny how one quote can support both sides of an argument.

(I removed your unattributed emphasis).

I would say that supports the view that the misspelling is actually right, given its common usage. As I said - I really dislike the misspelling, but given I and most other people, are not musical experts, perhaps it’s valid.

In any case, given that on the vinyl sleeve it is not a typographical error, and as you quoted is widely used by Americans (which the artists in this case are), I think we can all agree to let it stand. It’s just how the yanks spell it (sadly).

Thanks for your input

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No, misspelled words have to be corrected, according to MB guidelines. Common misspelling is not an intent. Intent would be uncommon misspelling. So, unless you can prove artist’s intent, stick to common correct spelling.


Great. Do you know if MB has a canonical lexicon for en-us? I’ll do some googling in any case.

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Hmmm, I’m American and spell it a cappella. Guess that’s why I love Italian food. Seriously, when you type a cappella here, the spell check indicator tries to suggest capella. I prefer the traditional Italian spelling.


I would say. At the start it has been a misspelled word.
Now it is kinda a another way to call it.

Sure from the origin it is wrong but just got carried in. Like a new word. It is something which can’t be solved. We have to live with it.

We can persist in the fact but would it solve the problem? No.
You can’t fight against artist and other from all over the world.

I don’t want to offend you but please take your native language/country aside and look from a other perspective on this. I also don’t like the fact but it is how it evolved.

A Capella is widly used for more “classical” Music.
Acapella is widly used for more “pop/electro etc” Music.
Objective of course

I would say, Yes both are legit.
As i stated. There is no way to prevent it. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonly_misspelled_English_words

A Capella isn’t the only word.


A word is listed in “commonly misspelled words” but you think it’s just “another way to call it”.
What about fixing the misspelled word instead?

Even when one insists on misspelling a word coming from my language/country ? Yes, sure.

If you say so…

I guess you misspelled the URL (it returns a 404 Not Found) but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonly_misspelled_English_words works and doesn’t list any variant of “a[ ]ca[p]pel[l]a”, nor it states listed words are “legit”.

And there’s an easy way to prevent it: fix misspelled (UK: misspelt) words before they spread too much, and thank people pointing out such errors.

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So. How you want to fix it? Please be relatic if you give an idea.
You can inform people about it but most of them won’t care. They will still use “Acappella”.

As i wrote i’m not trying to offend you, but the fact is, many words does become a kinda different word accross multiple laguages or having variatons across states. We in Germany have for multiple words for many words because of our “Bundesländer”. Each of the hae it’s own history. “Hoch Deutsch” - “High German” is german how you know it but be call it “Hoch Deutsch” because also each Bundesland has it own dialect and “Hoch Deutsch” is like the standard way to speak with each other and undertstand too. Some have such strong dialect we can’t understand them so yeah.

Yes i say it.

The URL is fixed. I’m typing one phone. Anyway.
I never said these are legit just i wanted to show you some misspelled/misspelt words.

I'm a bit mean. Can be ignored

So get yourself a time travel machine, find the person who is going to spread it and bring him to jail. Sorry for joking. It doesn’t belong here but how would like to do that? Maybe in some 10-20 years where everyone is getting checked by each word from their smart devices.

To be real. There is no way to prevent something like that. There is always the “correct” way but many will misspelled/misspelt it wrong and this will spread. You can only inform people abou it.

“A Cappella” this is the correct way to name it but “Acappella” is the written word more and more using. Mostly because they can remember it easier and makes for their own language more sense in terms of words. It would be for me no suprise if UK and USA use “Acappella” as the translated word of “A Cappella”.

As i wrote. I understand it but there is no actual way to prevent it from our point.The only thing is to accept “Acappella” to the guidelines as an synonym for “A Cappella”.
We fight for “A Cappella” but this would go for many years.

I prefer to “accept” it as a synonym.

Side note: I’m not a native english speaker. German is my native language.

This is the way ithink about the whole thing regarding “A Cappella” vs “Acappella” stuff. This will probably go one for years with no ends but i understand the point but to fight for years for it kinda makes no sense in my eye. Accepting it is enough because stopping the misspelling is not possible.

If some of you feel attacked i’m sorry. I don’t meant to attack anyone or any language or country.

Good night. 01:12 AM is it now. Late.


I would write it however it appears on the release


I think it’s fair to say that letting ‘Acappella’ stand is debatable, and given that, consensus won’t (and nor would it make sense to) be found.

What is required is authority. This could by fiat on a case-by-case basis or by another, more scalable way.

I’d be happy if MB just said: “for en-us text, the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to be the authority for spelling”. And “for en-au text, the Collins English dictionary…”

I know this moves the debate upstream, but at least for those of use adding edits there would be many fewer queries.

An American professor, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, who wrote a book called Common Errors in English Usage isn’t enough an authority for you?


I fail to see since when a minority of Americans doing a common spelling error became an authority…

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I think I’ve been misunderstood, so I’ll be clearer:

I believe for artist-generated non-deliberate misspellings:

  1. A senior figure in the MB community should, by decree, dictate the canonical source of correct spelling for some or all languages. Personally I’d start with en-us,
  2. This source (or sources) are published in a guide,
  3. Contributors use that canonical source in order to know what the correction should be.

Hopefully, although my suggestion may be wrong, at least my position is made clear. Let’s make each contribution to the MB wiki help people to be one step closer to database nirvana.


The thing is, who reads it? That is the thing. The goverment of each country could do it but they wont don’t do it. Simply because only a small amount of people do care but most wont.

The thing is. It is not a minority and not only Americans. Germany, France, Austria, UK, Italia and so one. Basically every country does that. Even this word comes from France i would bet there is also enough misspelled titles.

Today. Books and so one aren’t important. Many don’t even read Books. They just Google it what they want. If the search for “A Cappella” they will find how it is correct but that would be the “biggest” thing what has been and can been done.

In terms for MB:
This would decrease the queries quite a lot. Often there is a “fight” between the “A Cappella” or “Acappella” in titles. In someways it can even confuse some because the title isn’t the exact same as the artist titled it.

Yes. Either only “A Cappella” or with the synoymn “Acappella” for titles. I will prefer “Acapella” as a synonym. It will decrease the queries on MB and there won’t be a “fight” between editors.

Editor 1: It is “Acappella”.
Editor 2: No “A Cappella”
Editor 1: It is Artist intent.
Editor 2: No it’s not.
and 100 notes it goes further.

I think all of you know what i mean.