Hereís an ironic, little secret: Iím a writer who canít spell. While I havenít been officially tested, itís safe to say Iíd struggle to make it through my sonís fourth grade spelling test. Speaking of fourth grade; that was the last year I made any effort to memorize†the list. I spent so much time buried under weighty dictionaries that year I knew something had to be done. By fifth grade I was cheating off my BFF, an A+++ speller. That was the only year I got an A+++ in spelling (Sorry Mrs. Bunt). But you can bet your backpack I earned my A in Problem Solving that year.
Hereís The Deal: I Know Iím a Bad Speller
Itís been pretty clear for 33 years people. I donít need another email, or notification or personal message, or direct message or poke to tell me how bad it is. Thanks. Iím honestly growing weary of the people who feel the need to constantly bring it up. Do these people email 10K run fliers to paraplegics? Do they mail an alphabet poster to the dyslexic? Do they save the job section of the newspaper for the homeless woman on the corner? Kicking at the crutch doesnít make a disabled individual stronger.
Since Iíve taken on the vocation of “WRITER” (like being a good speller is a prerequisite to having something valuable to say) the spelling hecklers have been all over my words. There are people who will copy and paste my spelling errors and email them back to me with a few snide comments. And then thereís the Facebook Spelling Police who scour (which sounds like “skower” to me BTW) the newsfeed for misspelled words late into the night. Theyíve posted the link to Dictionary.com on my personal page so many times Facebook thinks itís my personal website. As if they are cluing me in to a 258 year old phenomena known far and wide as†the dictionary. Little do they know I spent an entire sixth grade recess searching those fine pages for the word “intell” (until). Little do they know I was gifted four dictionaries when I graduated from high school. Little do they know the homage I pay the spell checker gods each and every day.
Hereís The Deal: Iím Well Aware of My Misspell-ability
- I will change a word I donít know how to spell for one I do know how to spell.
- There are still words I spell wrong every darn, freakiní, flippiní time.
- If the words werenít clearly printed out for me on my daughterís seventh grade spelling list Iíd have to look them up.
- It took me over thirty minutes and two trips to the teacherís desk to find the word finomanel (phenomenal) in the dictionary.
- Homophones hurt-I know the difference between accept/except and aisle/isle but I forget that there is a difference when Iím typing 132 wpm.
- It took me ten minutes on Dictionary.com and a text to my best friend (the one I cheated off of) to correctly spell consciantious (conscientious)Ö.four different timesÖlast year.
- I donít understand why the English language has rules that arenít rules, “I before E except when it sounds like an A as in neighbor and weigh.” Yeah, thatís a whole bunch of unhelpful!!
- Donít ask us to take a memo. Thereís nothing worse than trying to leave a Post-it note on your bossís door and you canít remember if itís “emergency” or “emergancy.”
- You would assume bad spellers are thrilled with text lingo, spell check, and editorial staffÖ sort of like a smoker is thrilled with the NicoDerm patch. Not.
- If you want to humiliate us, direct us to the dictionary. If we donít know the first two letters of a word how are we going to find it in a book of 172,000 words?
- Research shows spelling ability is genetically determined for 60 percent of the population. So expecting me to memorize long spelling lists would be equal to me expecting you to change your blood type or curl your non-curling toung (tongue: one of those infamous words I can never spell). Can you imagine being graded for 16 years on your ability to change your blood type? Imagine getting emails from people reminding you that your blood type is still O and really should be AB.
Hereís The Deal: I Donít Write Words
Itís a shocker but true. When Iím writing, Iím communicating thoughts, images, scenery, actions and characters. Thereís a whole lot of action and verbage going on in this process. I become this crazy woman as I struggle to dictate all of that commotion onto a 6 by 8 screen. Most of the time I CANíT SEE THE WORDS. I know, I know; this is equal to a firefighter saying she canít see the smoke, but itís true. I can read over these exact words again and again and again and will never see that I misspelled VERBIAGE four sentences back. If you want to know what this is like go to a movie theater with your laptop and try to dictate everything you see: scenes, conversations, characters, mood, soundsÖ I donít write with words, I write with life.
So Iím asking you to ease up on the worldís bad spellers. We are fully aware of the fact that we slaughter the English language multiple times a day. We know there is a “their” and a “theyíre.” We know our job application better be electronic or we donít have a prayer. Try to remember, kicking our crutch wonít make us stronger.
By Monica Wilcox