A Spelling Nazi

Yes, that is what I was called not long ago for pointing out a spelling mistake: a Spelling Nazi … I guess, I have to admit that spelling mistakes do pain me and I try to eliminate them as much as possible – I guess that’s where the Nazi comes in, in the minds of some. Yet, I am trying to eliminate writing mistakes – not people …

I grew-up in a dictatorial educational system in Eastern Europe. One would not pass grade two without spelling properly and without knowing your table of division and multiplication. Fast-forward to North America, early nineteen-nineties when I first arrived here and I realized that not even kids in high school did not know how to spell. I have a buddy teaching English in South Korea and I am sure he still can’t spell for beans … I cannot decide if it is the impossibility of the English language or the failure of the educational system which has produced generations of spelling monsters, here in North America.

English is certainly a tough language to learn – I should know, it is my fourth language that I had to make sense of (although by now, I forgot almost all the Deutsch I spoke at one point) but I am still confused why many people who are born here, have serious difficulties with spelling. And now, not only are kids having trouble writing but when I point-out a simple editing mistake, I am suddenly seen as the spelling police guy: the Spelling Nazi …

There is certainly a push against intellectuals nowadays. If one is seen as knowledgeable, one is seen as stuck-up or high on themselves … It seems as if people are just discouraged to think nowadays: the less thinking the better – reminds me of a saying in Romania during the years spent under the Iron Curtain: `We work – we don’t think`. I think we are reaching that point in North America now: a good sign for me because in Romania not long after the `we work – we don’t think` time, came the Revolution of 1989. At least the System got re-shuffled a little.

In regards to writing on Hub-pages, it bothers me even when I end-up reading something which I have written a long time ago and I find a spelling mistake. It makes me wonder if people who have read the work at hand have even noticed the spelling error and if they did, why would nobody point it out? I don’t call people Spelling Nazis …

I do not think one can improve their writing if mistakes are not pointed out and learned from. Thus, I do encourage people to help-out each other regarding spelling mistakes at least – not because we want to show others how “bright” we are but to help others and ourselves at the same time, in writing better.

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Comments 39 comments

Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

I am in complete agreement with you here. Spelling mistakes lower the grade of an otherwise great hub. Of course we all make silly typos but when someone repeatedly makes the same spelling mistake then that is another thing altogether. I used to point out spelling mistakes and typos to be helpful but found that my thoughtfulness was not perceived as such so I too stopped being a spelling Nazi LOL! Thank you Mein Führer!

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Mr. Happy:

I agree with you wholeheartedly, the only difference between you and me would be that I stopped pointing out mistakes that I see.

I would welcome a tutor/editor who would be able to correct not only my odd spelling mistakes, but those consistent grammar errors that I might make without being aware of it.

I certainly try to do my best as far as my writing is concerned. I do take it seriously. I attribute this to the school system and my parents who looked down on illiteracy. Illiteracy in my times was unacceptable.

Now, the Russian language is less respected by native speakers and the school system crumbled - the quality of knowledge is incomparable to those "Communist" times.

We are what we learn.

We are what we read.

We are the times we grow up in.

As far a "Spelling/Grammar Nazi" - I love this clip and there is a whole line of suggestions. I hope you have a good laugh.


stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 4 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

I am admittedly a terrible speller,... but I am aware their is this program called spell-check,... and i use it.

I understand your frustration,… run on sentences and the like drive me insane, as does generally poor writing that gives me a cross eyed headache to read,… but I too have found that the insecure and overly sensitive writer bristles at editing help or constructive criticism. I myself will bristle at criticism that seems less than constructive or helpful, seeming to be vindictive or snide.

As a writer I try to be unforgiving in my pursuit of quality,… and I often fail,.. But I keep perusing.

As a reader I try to be very forgiving and search instead for the intent within the work.

When I find neither quality nor intent,… I keep my mouth shut! Ha! Grandpa always said,… “if’n ya caint say nuthin’ nice, best keep yer trap shut.”

PSAA (poorly spelled as always) -jack

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

It's a temptation to correct all the hubbers who spell badly or without thought and thorough editing on here.

But it's the quick way to get disliked.

The offender will often then go through your hubs like the spelling detective to turn up a mistake you may have made...they wouldn't have even read your work without your correction.

Some people's egos are so fragile.

As for the kids these days...I've given up.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I'm in the same boat as you are; spelling mistakes drive me crazy, turn me off and cause me to not finish a hub if I am reading it. If people want to invent their own language I say go for it, but if writing in English then it is necessary to spell correctly and use proper grammar.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mr. Spirit Whisperer,

it certainly seems that many people have some confidence issues ... I mean if someone's ego gets flustered over an editing mistake then, there might be more serious matters to discuss ...

Bitte schon : )

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Kallini, thank You very much for that video ... was quite the experience. Do I really come off like that to some of these kiddos? Probably ... but oh well ... haha

All the best and thank You for passing by!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Mr. Stclairejack, I agree with You that criticism should be constructive. If I comment on an article/blog, I would certainly say more than just "Hey, You got a spelling mistake ...". That would be just rude, in my opinion.

"As a reader I try to be very forgiving and search instead for the intent within the work." - That's a very good/positive way to look at perhaps a not-so-good situation. I'll remember that. Cheers!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

"Some people's egos are so fragile." - Yes, You can say that again Mr. Diogenes ... that is a little annoying though. It's like people are made out of porcelain ...

Please, don't give up on the kids though - they're the future!

Thank You for taking the time to stop-by and comment. All the very best!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

I fully agree with You Mr. Billybuc. Like I said above, English was my fourth language but that does not mean I have to butcher the language ...

I think we should all take a look at the educational system I think - for the good of all of us because the implications are many.

Thank You for your time Sir! Cheers. : )

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Maybe (just a thought) it is all a question of attitude. If something is or deemed important, we make an effort no matter how difficult it is.

Since a lot of people think or decided or so it seems that literacy is nothing but a frill, they would not even understand what the whole fuss is about.

A friend told me "I have difficulty remembering names. It's really bad". And I said "It means those names are not important to you. If it would be a name of a girl you date, you will remember". We tend to "edit out" unimportant information.

I was brought up with the understanding that knowledge of one's language is a must and I transferred my best into knowing/writing/speaking another language. The same principle applies, but the results are not quite the same. I do make mistakes, I do not have the same feeling of language.

So, now it is a paradox - mistakes that I notice bug me, but on the other hand I hope that others will show mercy understanding that English is not my language and might be crippled ranging from low to medium (high) intensity.

An excellent topic, Mr. Happy!

stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 4 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

It might interest the HP world,.. or at least entertain,...

when young, my grandmother asked me to write to her in her new apt. in north KC MO,... and I did,.... until that is, she began to send my letters back to me proof read.

she wondered why I stopped writing... I called instead.

it is in THAT spirit that I try to look for intent. ha!

Gareth Pritchard profile image

Gareth Pritchard 4 years ago from North Wales

Hi Mr.Happy, I have 3 learning difficulties for sure and a whole host of other things going on in my brain that I am not sure about but to be honest, I don't really want to be sure about. 3 learning difficulties is enough to give me at least some leeway against the spelling Nazis.

I need to inform you that American English is not English it has been partly sanitized, English, English, is in parts a stupid, nonsensical language, since when has psycho not really been sycho, know been no, that's just some of the extent of its pseudo or is it sudo stupidity.

Spelling has nothing to do with intellect, I would say that I am just as intellectual as you and I might even say that because I have learning difficulties that I am perhaps more intellectual than you because of it, but I am not, even though I just have.

You are not a spelling Nazi but I have met one and he knocked me back about ten years in my confidence, on purpose, so he could bolster up his own narcissistic ego.

You are not a spelling Nazi but I do wounder if you are half as clever as your name might suggest, just joking, sorry for the cheap grin.

Thanks, BoGareth.

PS. People with learning difficulties inherit them from the opposite parent, I am lead to believe and my sister has 5 learning difficulties, so both parents have problems, that does not make for a lot of encouragement in the spelling, grammar department either.

dialogue profile image

dialogue 4 years ago

Well i agree with you mr.happy. This is definitely a good hub with good topic, i appreciate the focus you made on this issue.

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida

There are those who believe style, spelling form and grammar are of no consequence and so long as content is understandable, our job as writers is done. There are those who get hung up on spelling and go about correcting others yet use double negatives and other errors of grammar... There are those who write in affirming their total agreement and isn't it a shame about all these terrible spellers, but make such glaring gaffes in their comments such as their for there.

And yet, we all manage to communicate.

Hmm -- makes you wonder about what truly is important, doesn't it.

As an editor, I've learned to smile indulgently at the foibles of others rather than point out their errors. Try it.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Both of us hate spelling mistakes - but that does not mean that we are immune, especially when typing.

If we are trying very hard to get things right, one of us writes and the other checks, but we seldom have time to do that.

We do think that spelling is important. When words are not spelled correctly, the error distracts the readers attention.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I see mistakes in the comments like lmmartin has said. When I saw the mistakes, I'm thinking their going around correcting people. I make lots of mistakes and I have been corrected by people. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, if you catch me in the wrong mood than I may get a LITTLE upset and you might catch me writing a hub on it.

The US educational system is terrible, many teachers can't spell and are terrible teachers. That passes to our kids. There are some really good teachers but the bad teachers make them all look bad.

Enjoyed reading your hub.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings once again Kallini,

I think there is certainly truth in what You said: "Maybe (just a thought) it is all a question of attitude. If something is or deemed important, we make an effort no matter how difficult it is."

And I guess, as long as we do our best and are willing to learn, it's all good. Cheers!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You for sharing that short little story Mr. Stclairejack! I found that quite funny, the sending of letters back, proof read ...

All the best!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Good to see You again Mr. Pritchard,

I can agree with You that one's intellect does not depend on the ability to spell words correctly. Nonetheless, as a writer I find that spelling affect the aesthetics of a piece of writing. Too many mistakes and the writing ends-up looking like Napoleon's soldiers at Waterloo ... not a pretty sight.

All the very best!! Thank You for taking the time to read and comment.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Mr./Mrs. Dialogue, I am happy about the agreement - thank You for stopping-by, cheers!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mrs. Lynda,

I cannot possibly imagine with your eye formed to catch such mistakes (editing mistakes), how many such instances You come across, especially here on Hub-pages. I suppose it is a good idea not to take editing mistakes too seriously.

On the other hand, if You do pop into some ugy ones in my writing, please do tell! Thank You and have a wonderful week-end!

P.S. (On a side-note ... I was thinking about Elenore yesterday, such a sweety ... did I spell her name right? LOL)

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You for your comment as well 2Patricias. I think You stated my problem quite clearly: "When words are not spelled correctly, the error distracts the readers attention." ... I do think that is somewhat the bottom line ...


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hello Mr./Mrs. Moonlake,

I personally think that the educational system needs some serious revising here in North America. There are a lot of success stories in our world when it comes to education. I think we just need to stay open-minded and try to affect some changes!

Thank You very much for taking the time to read and comment. All the best!

Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I had one hubber who recognized my limited experience writing poetry. He was kind enough to leave a comment with simple rhyme sequence possibilities. I consider him a true friend, because not only does he support my writing, but he reached out to help me. His suggestion taught me and made me a far better writer than I would have been without.

Occasionally, Mr. Happy, I am ashamed to say I am horrified by published writing with so many glaring spelling mistakes, I cannot finish the piece. I am not perfect, don't claim to be, wouldn't want to be, but I don't know why someone would write and publish a piece without reading, re-reading and checking the grammar and spelling. I can only deduce that they don't see the errors. I have never published an article or poetry without going to the online dictionary to insure I have the precise word and spelling of any word that I suspect may be incorrect. And, even at that, humans make mistakes, but I would look at a reader's help as a favor!

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I am a spelling nazi and proud of it. My writing is not published without me double and triple checking for spelling errors. My daughter is even worse.

She is 15 and finds it appalling when her friends cannot spell. They make comments to her on Facebook and she corrects them. They expect it and tease her about it. She is fine with that and so are they.

I always try to be tactful when making a comment on misspellings. I pass them off as typos. People will accept a typo when they won't accept that they cannot spell. Loved this.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hello Mrs. Amy,

Thank You for stopping-by, always glad to see You. : )

I agree with You that if a piece of writing has to many mistakes, I am inclined to not finish it either. Since I have been called a spelling-nazi, I can perhaps keep-up the war rhetoric and say that spelling mistakes are like land-mines. One or twe here and there ... I can survive but if there are too many landmines: there's no survival.

I appreciate your comment. Cheers!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mrs. Becky Katz,

You made a great point about being tactful when commenting on spelling mistakes. It is important indeed not to feel as if one is putting You down when mentioning a spelling mistake and more like they are being helpful.

Thank You for taking the time to comment. All the best!

DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

Totally agree. A great piece of work can be ruined even with a few mistakes. I can be a spaz when I type and edit, so I try to be extra careful before I publish anything. I also thank anyone who points out my errors. I let them know am never insulted because I know bringing attention to somenone's mistake can be uncomfortable. Great Hub!

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You for taking the time to read and comment Mrs. DanaTeresa. I do think one should be tactful when pointing out someone'else editing errors, just to remain respectful - we all make mistakes once in a while.

Thank You for the follow as well. Cheers!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Good evening Whitewolf - There are so many things to say. :) First, I liked you hub and agree with you that the education system has become less and less rigorous and very little is required of students in the way of grammar, spelling, and composition. Every semester I am appalled (you'd think I would get used to it) and find it hard to believe that many of my students actually graduated from high school! European and other foreign school systems are much more rigorous and it is a shame that we are not; we once were.

I would not call you a spelling Nazi, more a spelling "reactionary." :) I guess I don't usually correct a Hubber's spelling because I assume they were in a "hurry" and "chose" not to correct it. After all there is spell check and the little red squiggly lines in the comments box, so if one takes their time, there should be no problem..

Beyond that, my recommendation to anyone would be to walk away from their hub for 24 hours, come back and read it out loud....slowly. I can miss a mistake I have made 4 or 5 times, but when I read out loud, I usually catch it.

Our amazing brain is wired to fill in missing pieces and make sense of partial information or fragments, which it does an amazing job of when we are reading silently and rapidly; for most of us the brain literally supplies the missing letters that make sense of the word or phrase. It is pronouncing the word out loud and using our hearing (not just sight)that short circuits that rapid cycle and then we catch our mistakes more easily. I don't mean to be pedantic...you probably already knew all this.

For some reason poor grammar and sentence structure bother me more...not sure why. Maybe because misspelled words don't usually prevent me form understanding the writer's meaning, but other kinds of errors do interfere with clarity of thought and argument in a major way.

My greatest frustration in this arena I think is people who write without using paragraphs. Stream of consciousness is fine for a diary entry or when you are lying on the analyst's couch.... but it is completely unacceptable when writing for a diverse and public audience.

An essay or entry, or even an emotional diatribe should have a beginning, an end, and well delineated paragraphs in between that make sense and logically follow after one another. I am convinced that there are good thinkers on here who are seldom read because most of us find one huge long block of letters and sentences so difficult to deal with.

There is a need for white space, to rest the eyes, to provide emphasis and transitions. More so when reading from a computer screen than from a book.

Sorry to have turned this comment into a mini essay. Your Hub and all the comments made me think of many, many things. Last statement, that might explain a lot about me. My degree is in history as you know, my father was incredibly smart with a great vocabulary, but as a Polish immigrant he never larned to spell well...and my mother was a middle school English teacher who taught me so much about language and words...and yes she corrected the spelling and grammar in my letters to her after I left home. But I laughed it off, kept writing to her, and got better at it. :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I can't believe it. After going on and on and reviewing what I wrote for errors, I post it and immediately see a mistake (there are probably several...I don't ever want to know).

But fifth paragraph, third line the word "form" is supposed to be "from." When I am typing fast (not really fast, just fats for me) I find that I often invert letters. Oh well, it could be worse, I guess. In case I didn't make it clear, I really did enjoy your essay. :)

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Mrs. Theresa,

Thank You for taking the time to read and leave me quite an insightful comment.

I never followed my English Major as I planned when I entered university but my love for writing and reading has never diminished. Thus, I continually pay attention to writing and try to improve. My eye has been somewhat trained over time, to catch editing errors (although I miss some too at times ... happens to the best of us, haha).

I fully agree with the idea of letting one's writing rest for a day or so before re-editing, in order to be able to have a fresh view of the piece of writing. I used to do that to essays in university. Now ... actually I should say lately, I have an idea which I work on in my mind for a little while and then, I just sit down and write.

Most of my editing comes as I write. Writing without notes for me, means that I re-read written paragraphs to keep the flow. It is pretty crazy in the sense that I would not advise anyone to do what I am doing: no notes, just sit down and write; when finished, I re-read once or twice then, I post whatever was written.

I am glad You enjoyed the "essay" but I am not sure if it even is an essay. I had no structure in mind - only flying thoughts which I tried to put down in a coherent and flowing manner. All done at once in no longer than half an hour to an hour (including the re-reading of the piece and all).

Regarding spelling check, I find that computers are still not smart enough to differenciate between "form" and "from" or "though" and/or "thought" and so ... we still need to edit. Too many things are left for computers to do nowadays, in my opinion and with time we, as animals are becoming less and less able to adapt and to be resilient.

Thank You again for your comment. I always appreciate thinking minds. Cheers! : )

That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I appreciate good spelling and grammar. Typos bother me more than spelling mistakes. Typos are just laziness, or choosing to ignore spellcheck software.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thank You for taking the time to read and comment. I do agree with You that people should take the time to at least do a spell check after finishing a piece of writing. A clean copy is always easier to read.

All the best!

ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

You're correct, Mr. Happy. I think some reasons are folk don't like to read, which reinforces good grammar, and they don't work at good writing skills. The frightening thing is that, for many, conversation is replacing writing. Smh. I've always told people, "Don't ask me to dumb-down. You smarten up!"

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Greetings Ithabise,

thank You for the visit and for leaving me a comment.

I am happy You enjoyed the write.

Cheers! : )

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Just read this again (including all the comments) and enjoyed it again. Sorry I have been out of touch for so long. This has been a very busy semester. Hope all is well with you. :)

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Well, after a very busy semester I do wish You will find some time for relaxation and rejuvenation during this holiday season.

Thank You for your time. Always happy to see You visit.


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