Friday, October 24, 2008

Spelchek: Deterent to Akurate Speling

"Bad spellers of the world, untie!"– Graffito

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Are You Orthographically-challenged?

(Hint: Orthography refers to "right spelling.")

I used to be a great speller. Spell check ruined my memory.

One day during critique group, Beth said, "Is that spelled correctly?"

"It passed spell check," I replied.

"I can't believe you said that," Beth said.

Then I realized, I blindly rely too much on spell check—an imperfect correction system. I had substituted spell check for proof reading. Every time I rewrite or before I send a manuscript to my critique group or to an editor I click on "Spelling and Grammar." It's my habit.

I have always loved reading, writing and spelling. In second grade I was a spelling whiz. When I had children, I expected them to excel in these subjects. I grieved when ADHD disabled my son's reading and spelling skills. I also felt like a failure. In second grade, my son's verbal skills tested out at grade nine, even though he failed reading and spelling. My daughter-in-love sent me this email with these instructions—


Only great minds can read this This is weird, but interesting! fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr t he ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

This email looked like my sons' school papers that their teachers had to decipher. Apparently, I have a great mind and so do my sons. I raced through the paragraph and so did my son. Being able to read this scrambled email proves Andrew Jackson's belief, "It's a d*#* poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word. Did I mention that I have creative sons?

To the college professors and editors that teach, "Bad spelling makes you look lazy," I proffer, "Bad spelling is the sign of a genius or a great mind." However, dear writers, editors agree with Mark Twain who said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

These links provide some interesting thinking about "right spelling."

Moral of Story?

Don't relinquish the value of your knowledge to a computer or to someone that judges you—failure—if you can't spell.

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