- Education and Science
Photographic Memory and Good Spelling
Some people naturally find spelling easy. They have what is know as a photographic memory for written words. When they see a word written they are impressed not only with its meaning but with its very shape. They see it in their minds' eye.
Although some professionals believe that photographic memory is a myth, there has also been evidence to show that photographic memory is a real phenomenon. A woman who was studied by Charles Stromeyer was capable of remembering poetry that had been written in a different language. Photographic memory is a rare element that is found in less than 10% of the population.
Other people just as naturally have no visual or photographic memory of this sort, although they may have a wonderful memory for the sound of a spoken word and perhaps quick and fine perception of a word's inner meaning. To such people spelling errors will be all too easy.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that mainly affects reading and spelling. Common features of dyslexia include spelling errors (‘nock’ for ‘knock’; ‘jerney’ for ‘journey’); mixing upper and lowercase letters in writing (for example: ‘numBers’), and confusing letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’. Dyslexia is caused by the poor photographic memory, or a kind of deficiency of photographic memory.
English is a most unkind language. So many of its words are not written at all as they are spoken. So many of its letters are silent, so many have sounds that vary from one word to another, and there are so many rules continually broken, that unless you have a strong photographic memory you are almost certain to make some spelling errors in English.
For instance, very often double consonants have the same sound as a single consonant. gh may have the same sound as g (ghastly), or c as ch (chaos), or t as th (thyme). The famous double consonant, ph is pronounced neither like a p nor an h, but like an f (Phyllis). The kind of double consonant that gives most trouble should perhaps be called the twin consonant, bitten, pepper. These words required a strong visual memory.