Brotney or Buttney? Oops, her fans have got it wrong again

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Paul Simon may have talked about 50 ways to leave your lover but fans of Britney Spears have discovered something else: 594 ways to spell her name.

The search engine Google has recorded the different ways that searchers for information have used to locate Web pages about the entertainer, whose name was more sought out than any other in 2001.

Google recorded 635,199 attempts over the past three months; of those, 488,941 – or 77 per cent – spelt her name right.

But as for the rest ... everyone was confident that they knew how to spellher surname but they became very confused about her first name: should it be Brittany (40,134 tries), Brittney (36,315 tries) or Britany (24,342)? Some people weren't sure if she was Brotney, Brutney, Buttney, Brtitney, Breathney, Bintey, Britneeey, Grittney, Prietny, Bhriney or Prittany – all of which (along with many similar ones) were entered by at least two people at some stage.

All of those were offered the correct spelling of her name, which would then point them to any of 1,230,000 different web pages. The first is the official site (www.britneyspears.com), with the next best, in Google's eyes, being the "Britney Spears guide to semiconductor physics" – where a student fan claims that "she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format". It is a guide to laser systems – though Ms Spears, however you want to spell her name, isn't much in evidence.

The list has not exactly raised the status of Ms Spears's fans among the Net-using community. "It proves that her fans are society's lowest common denominator," one cynical commentator, Leon Blackwell, said on his website. Another was terser: "Aw, poor Britianny."

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