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A Few Thoughts on Bad Spelling

Updated on August 16, 2013
Which do you prefer:  a cold beer, or a properly spelled beer?
Which do you prefer: a cold beer, or a properly spelled beer? | Source

Tidy Little Boxes.

The world loves to categorize people. We love labels and classifications and little boxes we can put people in. It's human nature, a trait honed well by our need to survive: if an organism can't quickly and neatly classify "dangerous predator" and "benign fellow organism" at just a glance, it is too often doomed to die an early death. It's no wonder we love to say, "There are two types of people" and then fill in those blanks so glibly.

Here's my own glib statement, then. There are three types of people: those who spell badly ... those who love to publicly correct those who spell badly ... and those rare angels who spell well and effortlessly and who refuse to judge others based on their own inability to do so.

The meaning is, nonetheless, clear.
The meaning is, nonetheless, clear. | Source

Love the Spell-Sinner, Hate the Spell-Sin!

I've always had a knack for spelling. As a child, I competed well in spelling bees at every grade level. Writing has been a central theme in my life since I was in second grade, and spelling always went hand-in-hand with proper writing. For many years, I believed there was probably a special bolgia in Dante's Hell for those who abused words so badly. They were on par with those who didn't return books, or who -- gasp! -- bent the tips of pages back into dog-ears or left a book spread out on its face, spine stretched and buckled, rather than use a proper bookmark.

I don't like spelling errors. I don't like making them. I believe there is no place for them in formal written documents and in published work. I can't embrace them or love them, those misguided words. I can, however, embrace and love a person who misspells. The word -- the error -- is not the person. If hiring two candidates of equal competency in all other areas, I'd choose the one with a better grasp of word mechanics. But given the choice between those who spell badly and those who publicly correct bad spelling, there's no comparison: give me the serial mis-speller!

Spelling Doesn't Make the Man.

Over the years I've come to the happy realization that some of the best people I know, and have known, are some of the worst spellers. Some are truly creative in their spelling; others transpose a letter here and there; some let an occasional "weird" get past them. Some are comfortable with their troubled spelling; others, ashamed to the point of letting it affect their overall confidence. In most cases, they know quite well that spelling is not their strong point, even without someone pointing it out to them.

Interestingly, some of the worst people I've known are those who cannot help but publicly correct such errors. These are the internet gnomes who spend hours on forums or local news sites gleefully clapping their hands together and crying out, "Aha! I found an error! Now I must publicly humiliate the person! Precious, precious, how happy I am!" They are the teacher who mocks the student in front of the class, rather than pointing out the error silently with that all-powerful red pen; they are the insensitive boss or co-worker who corrects an error in an email by forwarding it to several people or by using that dreaded "reply all" function. They are the Facebook "friend" who poisons the page with an attack on someone's very candid and personal post. They are everywhere.

The Best Tools Come with Tattered Covers.
The Best Tools Come with Tattered Covers. | Source

How Well Do You Spell?

How do you rate your own ability to spell?

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Spelling: Not an Easy Fix.

Spelling is an interesting skill. I'm not an expert in the teaching of reading, writing, and spelling but my own observation has been that once a person has reached maturity, their ability to spell is pretty much set. This, of course, doesn't necessarily apply to those who are learning literacy and fluency in a new language, nor to those who struggled with basic literacy as children and are now learning to read and write as an adult. But for the average person who received the average education, it has been my experience that there are good spellers and poor spellers. Some of the poor spellers hide it well: they know how to make good use of spell check functions, and they are assiduous in proofreading (or asking others to proofread for them). They struggle, and they're well aware of that struggle. They care enough to make the extra effort to spell well, while others make it look easy.

Spellcheck, though, has its limitations. It doesn't know that "their" or "they're" is being used inappropriately; it can't distinguish between "hoarse" and "horse." The contemporary more-intuitive word processing programs sometimes catch such homophones, but not always, and sometimes they're more problematic than they are useful. The bottom line is a writer must have enough of a grasp of spelling to be able to identify words that just look wrong in order to spell well even with the use of a computer.

Do You Publicly Correct Others?

What's your approach to publicly pointing out the errors of others?

See results

The Dynamics of Public Correction.

The act of publicly correcting another is a fascinating thing. It immediately sets up an implied superior - inferior relationship. It's a power play, an act of dominance, and a means of looking better at the expense of the poor soul who -- heaven forbid! -- transposed a letter or even totally botched a word. It's a way of exhibiting one's own intelligence and playing it as much higher than that of the other party. It draws attention to the one who makes such corrections -- a "look at me!" while drawing equal attention to the victim by implying, "Laugh at them!"

It's also petty and snide. It is narrow of mind and small of brain. Worse, in public forums it has a sneaky way of shifting focus from a very real and perhaps legitimate argument or perspective to nothing more than a minor error. It is the written equivalent of scoffing at someone because they have a lisp, and discounting the very intelligent and rational thoughts they wish to convey.

In my past profession, we used to debate employee misconduct by drawing the distinction between "mistake of the head" versus "mistakes of the heart." The former describes your typical honest error. The latter is your ill-intentioned misdeed -- a deliberate act of misconduct. Doubtless you've had cashiers give you incorrect change. When done unintentionally, that's a mistake of the head. Perhaps, like myself, you've had a waitress deliberately alter your charge card slip to give herself a higher tip. (In the instance I'm referring to, the waitress altered the numbers so that her 20% tip became 100% of the total bill.) That is a mistake of the heart.

Those who spell poorly make mistakes of the head. They make innocent, and forgivable, errors. Those who choose to point fingers at them and mock them publicly make mistakes of the heart. Dante most certainly has reserved a special bolgia in his inferno for them.

Does Spelling Hold You Back?

Do you limit your online or written activity because you can't spell well?

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In recent years, the subject of "bullying," has gotten copious amounts of attention. It's gone overboard in many ways. One thing that strikes me about those who carry the torches through the town square, intent on burning bullies at the stake, is the hypocrisy. They can hide their own bullying when crying out, "Bully! Bully!" They can justify acts of violence or cruelty because they felt they were once bullied.

Nonetheless, those who like to publicly humiliate others are, plain and simple, bullies. When they do so for that oh-so-awful act of misspelling a mere word, they are nothing more than grown-up schoolyard bullies. They abuse a human being for what -- the fact that very human being unintentionally abused a word? Are words more important than people?

Toward Online Civility.

I don't like misspelled words. I cringe when I see them. I like tidy thoughts presented in even tidier packages. Yet they don't give me the same sick feeling I get every time I see someone attack someone for those little spellos. Every time that happens, I feel like I've witnessed someone spitting in someone else's face, or knocking the books out of the shy kid's hands. I feel like washing my hands because I feel dirty somehow.

So often I've witnessed someone pointing out a spelling error and, when taken to task for it by others, they respond with, "Well, they should know it's a misspelling so they are taken more seriously in the future. Someone should point it out to them! It's for their own good!" I always love that response -- now we don't just have a public bully who is showing their own mental superiority because they recognize a spelling error, but we also have someone who is patting themselves on the back because they're making such an investment in the future of that poor, inferior soul who dared to misspell a word.

Think about this: let's say you're in a public place, and you're wearing that new pair of pants you're proud to fit into. You start out the morning looking in the mirror saying, "I'm lookin' good!" and then you venture out into a crowded Starbucks for your morning macchiato delight. No sooner do you get in line than someone across the room shrieks, "Ohmigod! Look! She still has the stickers on the back of her pants! How funny!" Who's the better person? That charmer, or the lady who quietly approaches and says in a low tone, "Excuse me ... I don't think you realize there are still some tags on the back of those cute new jeans ... I hope you don't mind me mentioning it."

If you run across a spelling error and you truly care about the person who has made it, and it actually matters (which most comments in a forum really, at core, don't), point it out to them tactfully and privately. As we used to teach our organizational supervisors, "Praise publicly, criticize privately." If you can email them with a courteous note, great. If you can add a comment saying, "This isn't intended for public view, so please don't approve it, but I thought you'd want to know ..." great. But don't think that tearing a person down in public is appropriate. There's a reason villages quit securing miscreants in stocks and letting townspeople throw rotten tomatoes at their faces -- public humiliation is so 15th century.

I love words. Sometimes I love them more than people, truth be told. But people are always more deserving of kindness than words. Abuse a word, it isn't going to have any worse a day for it. It isn't going to go home and kick its dog because its feelings got hurt. But abuse a person, and you've abused someone real and alive. Proud much?

Copyright (c) 2013 by MJ Miller

All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced, in part or in whole, without the express written permission of the author. However, links to this article may be freely shared (and are appreciated). If you are reading this on any site other than HubPages, you are reading stolen content. Thank you for reading, linking, pinning, sharing, emailing and commenting!


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    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you, Kim, for making that excellent point. It does make perfect sense --if a dialect or accent changes the sound of a word, then phonetics as normally applied can go out the window! (Or, as some might spell it if they're from certain regions, out the winder!)

      Thank you so much for your thoughts and kind words!

      Best -- MJ

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 4 years ago from North Carolina


      Greetings! This is an excellent hub. I can see why it was chosen as HOTD. The challenge for those who live in my neck of the woods is that the ways some words are pronounced make it especially difficult for those who are just learning to read and write and spell correctly. For example, If a child grows up hearing: I'm goin' to the store to git some milk., she or he may end up working harder than the child who grows up hearing: I am going to the store to get some milk. Thus, the way we hear words can impact how quickly we learn to spell them. I am not sure if anything I just wrote made any sense, but excellent hub nonetheless.

      Best Always,

      ocfireflies aka Kim

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thumbi 7, thank you for visiting and commenting. It's interesting that the people who enjoy publicly correcting others are focused more on spelling than on any other facet of the language, when really punctuation, grammar, and syntax are arguably more critical to communication skill. Perhaps it's because it's so easy to thoughtlessly point out a spello, whereas with the other issues someone would have to spend time and effort explaining it more thoroughly.

      Thanks so much -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Hello, John Sarkis,

      I'm glad you stopped by. Automated spell-checkers have certainly leveled the playing field considerably. As much as my iPad keyboard can slow me down as there are no raised keys to rely on, the auto-complete function has become a feature I rely on to compensate for my lost speed. It's a double-edged sword, though -- it's awfully easy to continue forward and not realize what interesting words the auto-complete has inserted. Technology has granted me more typos than I deserve!

      Thanks so much for commenting and the "up and away!" -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Hi, Annasantos,

      I'm glad that with the critical task you have that you ARE meticulous about spelling! Certainly there are specific jobs and positions where flawless spelling matters more than in other areas; I'm glad you pointed that out.

      Funny, I still recall some of the words that finally tripped me up on Spelling Bees when I was a contender (and it was long, long ago) -- incense (I misheard and spelled "innocence") and scintillate among them. Scintillate has always had a special place in my heart since then.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting!

      Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Hi, AudreyHowitt, and thank you for your comment! You're right ... and then there are the two-in-one-packages: folks who can't spell, but still can't help but correct!

      Thanks -- MJ

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      You have discussed a whole lot about spelling. Sometimes people make spelling, grammar and pronunciation mistakes.

      As you said it is very important not to hurt their feelings for the silly mistakes they make

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I love this article. However, one does not have to be a great speller these days. Most if not all writing software's are equipped with all the spelling tools, checks and gadgets needed. So the days of worrying about being a bad speller are somewhat over. All said, when I was a kid, I did suffer - all we had were typewriters back then. Congrats on winning HOTD

      Voted up and away

    • annasantos profile image

      Anna Santos 4 years ago from Canada

      Hi MJennifer,

      I love this article. When I was in my grade school days, I used to be a spelling bee contestant and I would feel degraded each time I would not get the spelling correctly. In the first place, I was wondering why I was chosen to represent our school. That experience probably contributed to why I was so meticulous about spelling these days, especially with my kids. I'm not saying that I'm so great at it, but I would always react (with courtesy of course) when I see incorrect spelling. Now, being a medical transcriptionist requires me to be good at it though, not only in English words but medical terminologies which are far more dangerous for my career if I don't spell them correctly. But yeah, thanks for this article...So interesting...

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      So interesting! I do wonder about both those who just can't seem to spell and those who so feel the need to correct--and congrats on the HOTD!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Techygran, you're the best. I think every great speller has a great conversation in their head when they see a bad spello -- and that's the best place for it! Bless you for not stifling the creative spirit of your grand-daughters' work. I'll never forget when my big brother begged and begged me to let him read one of my stories, and before he'd gotten through the first page his hand flew up to the pen on his pocket. I told him if he so much as put a mark on my paper he'd never read another one. Somehow I've made it through without his proof-reading assistance.

      Thank you tremendously for your thoughts.

      Best ~ MJ

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thank you for this beautiful, eloquent post that so well addresses the ethical, emotional and psychological issues for spelling ability. I am a spelling snob and find myself having those little contemptuous monologues in my head from time to time when I run across individuals who are not 'good spellers'. To correct that self-rant I only have to remind myself of my many character flaws, much darker than misspelled words.

      I, too, thank God for great phonics and grammar teaching back in my early school years. When I was in sixth grade I had the opportunity to help my brother in third grade have an aha moment when he realized that phonics worked for him whereas trying to "memorize" how a word looked, did not. On the other hand, I have granddaughters (7 and 5) who "write" a story book or so a week, and whose spelling is based on the just-go-for-it phonetic school of thought. The 5-year old has been a joyful reader since the age of two. I wouldn't think of 'correcting' any of their exciting, creative 'work'.

      I'm social networking this article like crazy!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Au Fait (wow. Talk about autocorrect -- you just became Audi Fiat right before my very eyes!), thank you! Oh, yes, this was a great morning surprise. When I wrote this hub I commented to my husband it would be one that no one would be interested in but something I felt strongly about. Imagine my shock this morning! I am so appreciative of being recommended and selected (thanks, whomever did so).

      Yes, the karma credit card definitely calls on those who are unforgiving of simple errors. How many times have you seen a "corrector" called out for their own mistakes? Then the entire forum or thread will become a squabble, while the more meaningful issues are left in the dust.

      Thanks again for your comment and if I ever call you Audi Fiat, you'll know my iPad snuck it by me!

      Best ~. MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      RTalloni, thank you for that insightful, well-presented comment. You brought up excellent points I had neglected. I think our relationship with the person we suggest corrections to is critical; it's much easier to accept correction from someone who has already made a deposit in our emotional bank account than from someone who considers themselves the Grammar Police to the world.

      I can relate too well to your point about how the distracted and busy mind can easily substitute words and names; two days ago I paid my mortgage by inverting the numbers mentally -- I wrote the check for the remaining balance in my check register rather than for the correct amount I had just subtracted. It wasn't a math error but an error of substitution. The mind does strange things when we multitask. When I'm suffering ocular migraines, I tend to use a similar but incorrect word when speaking -- neither of these errors indicate lack of intelligence or knowledge, they're brain quirks. I hope I'm as understanding of other people's own brain quirks as I hope they will be of mine.

      Thanks again. I love meaty comments! Best ~. MJ

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Good stuff and I enjoyed reading the way you put your ideas on this topic. This was going to be a Hub of the Day from the very beginning. A person who publicly corrects another as you have described will find themselves on the receiving end eventually. No one is above mistakes!

      The pros and cons of helping each other when we see errors in hubs are wide ranging. A few of the issues are: 1) Many of us appreciate it and would like to have the input anytime we can get it--from caring people. 2) It is actually each writer's responsibility to proof our own work--expecting others to do it for us is bad form. 3) Appreciating our critics and learning from mistakes is critical to success. 4) It's awkward to offer help no matter how careful we try to be--that's why it isn't offered more often.

      As a fairly good speller I can get by, but getting by slaps me in the face if I don't double-check my memory, attention, and/or my proofreading. Posting a careless mistake is embarrassing enough, but fixes don't always stick. Taking the time to proofread is essential, but sometimes we just don't see what's really there!

      Maybe a person really doesn't yet know the correct spelling/writing method, but even they're/their/there can be a simple unseen typo. When we do a lot of typing I think our minds, which process many thoughts at once, do tricky things. Lose a little focus and we might even type the name of the next book we want to review in place of the current book we are reviewing, leaving a reader saying, "Okay, where did that come from?" (Yes, it's true.)

      You have examined this topic very nicely and I am now going to check out more of your work. :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Agree that a kind and generous heart is more important than skilled spelling. We all make mistakes, some big, some small -- and sometimes we even spell a word wrong or make a typo. If we offer forgiveness, maybe we will get the same in return when we put our own foot in it.

      Isn't it incredible to sign into your account one morning and see your hub has been chosen as HOTD? Congratulations! It's truly a great hub with an important message.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for your great comment, Victoria Lynn. Bless you for tactfully and privately correcting.

      Yes, I do believe spellos is my own (although I'm sure others have also thought of it). I find myself classifying things as "typos, spellos, and grammos" when proofreading.

      I appreciate your visit and comment! ~ MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      What a lovely comment, Kathryn. You make an excellent point in that those of us who have an aptitude for spelling most certainly have subjects with which we struggle. As someone with a degree in English, I've always loved the T-shirt I once saw that said, "English Major. Do the math!"

      The bottom line is that although I dislike seeing honest errors, I don't dislike people for making them; it's the error, not the person. When it comes to people who intentionally or carelessly wound others for no better reason than a spelling error -- I dislike them. My experience has been that those individuals are often unkind in a variety of ways.

      I did not always feel this way, and there was a time in my life I, too, engaged in public correction. It was many, many years ago, and I sincerely hope I didn't humiliate anyone!

      Thanks again -- MJ

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Congrats on HOTD! Interesting topic. I'll admit that misspelled words make me cringe, especially from writers. The only time I ever corrected anyone that I recall is in a private email to another writer who had misspelled one of the words in a very short title. It was so obvious, and I didn't want the error to be out there any longer for his sake.

      Hey, did you just coin the word "spellos"? I love it!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      What an interesting concept. I usually spell well, although (like everyone) am not perfect. But bad spelling makes me cringe. I wouldn't publicly ridicule someone for spelling wrong, although I have to admit I have pointed out random misspellings from people I don't know, on signs or online. But I don't write to them and let them know about it.

      The time that irked me was when someone at work (who was college educated, and paid more than us) regularly spelled a simple word wrong, on a page that all employees had to read. But upon further thought, I realized that they could just as easily catch me in a math-related mistake. Everyone has different talents and things they are not so good at, and I could never dislike the person for making a mistake. I can't stand bullies, and I never intentionally make someone feel bad.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, and congrats on winning HOTD!

      ~ Kathryn

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Rose-the-Planner, thank you for your comment. My mother was born and raised in Hamilton and I was fortunate to have been familiar with the British spelling customs as I grew up. (I also recall being corrected in early grade school when I used some of those variations. Strange what our memory banks choose to hang onto!)

      Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Kereeves, thanks for your comment. I had not thought of correction as a form of OCD but it does make sense. Those errors do make me cringe, too -- but I cringe even worse when I see someone shamed over them.

      That "broke" sink makes me laugh! I would have been tempted to place another sign and a small dish next to the sign with the words, "Donations Appreciated."

      Thanks again -- MJ

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Congratulations on HOTD, well deserved. I thought this was a great article. I believe that it is important for individuals to exercise proper spelling as well as proper grammatical structure when writing. I believe that sometimes it is important to let someone know when they have made spelling errors as a way of helping them. However, I do not agree when people are humiliated in front of others by being corrected by a "know-it-all". That is just ignorance! Rather, it is better to either drop them a private line or take them aside and let them know. Just be certain that you are correct in doing so yourself. For example, Americans and Canadians sometimes spell their words differently as Canadians follow the British way of spelling, i.e. favour vs. favor, neighbour vs. neighbor and so on. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      GoingOnline, I certainly agree with you that when someone spells so horribly that their message is unintelligible, there's an enormous problem. I have no issue with privately and tactfully explaining that to someone, or to answer them candidly and directly when they seek input. My concerns are the public and unsolicited aspect of it, when individuals feel the need to respond to a post or article with nothing more insightful than, "^ spelling error" or "^[corrected word]." That is rude behavior and isn't an investment in the writer's success, nor is it a response to the message (unless gross errors obscure that message as you describe so well). It's a means of showing oneself as better than the author. On the other hand, politely giving solicited corrections, or politely and privately pointing out errors, is useful. Some people really enjoy humiliating others publicly. That's a sad form of Schadenfreude! Thanks for your excellent comment -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for visiting, Rainsanmartin! I think that how we present our correction is key -- a note saying, "I know you wouldn't want an error in this otherwise fine piece of writing, so may I point out a typo?" is a lot better than a public shaming (and too often, that's what people like to do). Thanks for your kind comment -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks so much, Wabash Annie, for your interesting comment. When I was a child, the school I attended incorporated a brief program in which kindergarten (my grade at the time) was to be taught word-recognition rather than phonics. My mother was furious, and fought a successful battle to place me in a phonics-based program. My classmates who attended the word-recognition program are still at a disadvantage today, 45 years later. I still recall how they struggled during their early years at school.

      It would be fascinating to understand the connection between spelling and developmental disabilities. You have great insight.

      Thanks -- MJ

    • GoingOnline profile image

      GoingOnline 4 years ago

      I won't go as far as publicly commenting on a typo on a forum, but every time somebody goes "Why mine articlez nu gwet viewqs!! this is a scam!!" I feel obliged to explain to them that until they learn to write in a less painful way people and search engines may feel inclined to ignore them. That's usually followed with "Iv you kant' understand my spellingz ur no worth to read them" and I go happily back to my cave.

      People shouldn't call themselves writers and whine about not having the success they think they deserve if they can't use the tools of the trade.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for your very kind comment, FitnezzJim. I believe you've put it well by describing it as a personality flaw of the public corrector. I, too, suffer from fast-fingeritis when typing. I spell particularly badly on my iPad as there are no raised letters to touch-type with -- and then, the dreaded auto-correct kicks in and completely changes my word to something that makes no sense at all.

      I certainly appreciate your visit -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Hi, Starbright, and thank you for your kind comment. Oh, those errant pens, and their red-ink cousins! I certainly appreciate your visit -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Evelyn, thank you for your well-thought out and presented comment. I have known several highly educated individuals who nonetheless struggled with spelling. If there was a commonality, it was perhaps that many of them lacked extensive education in the Liberal Arts.

      I certainly agree that a foundation in word etymology is a significant benefit in learning to spell. On correcting people, I maintain that it should not be done unsolicited, and it should not be done publicly. That's unforgivable. I have long been available to my friends and colleagues for proof-reading and spell-checking -- but I do not presume to do so unless they request it. Thanks so much! -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for your comment, Prasadjain. I appreciate a different viewpoint from my own, as well. Thank heavens we don't all think alike! Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      PS, thank you. I've always been the "go-to" person on spelling, too -- and I've found that the computer isn't always my friend in that area. I believe I make more errors than I did using my old Smith Corona typewriter! Best -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you, MPG! Isn't it interesting how technology has skewed the playing field? It has helped many to spell more correctly, but has hindered many of us who are "naturals" at it. Thank you for visiting! -- MJ

    • kereeves3 profile image

      Karen 4 years ago from Salem, OR

      I've heard that correcting someone's grammar/spelling is a form of OCD. I totally own up to this, because these errors truly do make me cringe!

      This actually happened yesterday at work: someone placed a sign on the sink in the break room that said "BROKE", as if the sink didn't have any money... I couldn't stand it! I had to take it down. I really wanted to write in the "N", but I resisted, and simply tossed the sign in the recycle.

      Is that bad?!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Pinto2011, thank you so much for your kind comment. I appreciate it greatly! -- MJ

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Suzie HQ, thank you! I'm glad you stopped back by. I still rely on my tattered Webster's rather than online dictionaries, but it is always close at hand -- both of them, actually. Thanks again! -- MJ

    • rainsanmartin profile image

      Rain San Martin 4 years ago from Fort Wayne

      Publicly correcting a spelling mistake is unkind I agree! I think a private message pointing out the error along with a positive statement would be helpful though.

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      I attended a one-room country school but do not recall receiving spelling instruction. My spelling skills are excellent as is my reading ability. There could be a connection between the two, at least for me.

      During my years as a special education/reading/language teacher, I never attempted to teach spelling. We do not know for certain why there is such a difference in spelling abilities but there could be a connection to the ability to memorize and/or something to do with visual memory. My students were able to identify errors in their written work and correct them and learned accuracy that way. I don't believe that phonics is the answer but it does seem to help some with their reading and spelling.

      This a long comment but I believe that this is a complicated issue. I also believe that the shortcuts in texting and computer autocorrect/spellcheck will cause misspelled words to be an ongoing issue. No, I do not correct others who make spelling errors.

      Thanks much for writing on this topic!

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Congratulations on being selected as Hub-of-the-day.

      This article is right on point, especially with respect to people who publicly call-out spelling errors. In that case, it is more about a personality flaw of the commenter than it is about the spelling error. The commenter obviously was capable of understanding the intent of the communication, so communicating was not the problem.

      I make spelling errors all the time, but only on-line. When I write a hand-written message, I rarely have spelling errors. The problem isn’t spelling, it is typing. When I type, my fingers fly and can not keep up with what I’m thinking. Even words get left out sometimes. Spelling errors abound. It is worst when making a medium length comment on a Hub article. Because of that I’ll never judge someone on the basis of spelling. I abhor misguided judgmental personalities anyway.

    • starbright profile image

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      A quick swipe with a ruler or stick or slap across the head was quite common in my school days, when my pen made spelling mistakes:-) Happily the spelling has become better over time and I haven't seen or felt a ruler in years. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the well deserved HOTD. Voted and shared.

    • profile image

      Evelyn 4 years ago

      As an educator, I find the ability to spell words correctly to be a good indicator of education level and/or reading level. The reason why English has a notoriously difficult system of spelling and pronunciation is because of the diverse origins of our vocabulary. People who are well-educated know the etymology of words and use this knowledge to help them spell unfamiliar words. E.g., words starting with "chiro" are of Greek origin and have something to do with hands, or that "lachry-" and "lacri-" are Latin roots for words having to do with tears. People who have only an average education and/or don't read much don't understand how the English language developed from older languages, so they are prone to writing errors.

      I have to disagree with the author's premise that "once a person has reached maturity, their ability to spell is pretty much set. " What studies back up this claim? I teach adults and I can tell you from my own experience that anyone of any age can become a better speller with more education and more high-quality reading. All it requires is a willingness to learn, a willingness to see room for improvement and the value in improvement. I've seen really bad spellers reformed through patience and practice. Nobody wants to be thought of as a dummy. And a lot of them want to be corrected (politely, of course.)

      I say, if someone has atrocious spelling but they display an earnest desire to become a more educated person, to be seen as intelligent, then correct them and help them learn. And most people are not such babies that their feelings will be forever hurt from having their spelling and grammar corrected.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 4 years ago from Tumkur

      A very good article,though I have some different opinions on some points mentioned here by the knowledgeable author.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      As one who was always and still is followed around being asked how to spell this and that, spelling has always come easy to me. Now, I do find errors, I do make errors when writing in HP because I s'pose my fingers don't get the message in to time for me to correct the error and then after reading a hub about a thousand times, I still miss the misteaks :).

      Congrats on HOTD

      Nicely done... Angels are on the way ps

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This definitely deserves HOTD, congratulations and well done MJennifer. I've always been quite a good speller but I must admit that technology makes me question it quite often, especially the differences between English and American spelling, and don't get me started on autocorrect. :) Voted up and interesting.

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi MJennifer! This is really a gem kind of topic. So innovative and so close to us and you have drawn a very detailed outline of it.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi MJ,

      Delighted to see this as HOTD, I read it awhile ago and do not know why I did not comment at the time, I meant to! Spelling is something that I have always thought I was good at and it makes such a difference when reading articles and letters. I find myself referring to an online dictionary now when in doubt which I find useful. Writing online I tend to change my English spelling to American something else to consider when writing. Great article which everyone needs to read! Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for the comment, Epbooks. Don't you just love what autocorrect comes up with sometimes? It's a great way to go wrong with great confidence! I appreciate your visit and vote. -- MJ

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Great hub! I had to think about my own ability. While I am a fairly decent speller, where I falter would be either if I am typing too fast or when autocorrect changes my words to something completely different than what I had typed. On the other hand, if you verbally asked me how to spell a word, chances are that I'd give you the correct answer! Voted up.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      You are more than welcome !

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Alicia, thank you so much. I appreciate your kind comment! -- MJ

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent hub, MJ. It's an interesting article that contains great suggestions for kind and helpful behavior. Well done!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you for your visit and your vote, Torrilynn.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      i understand your hatred towards the misspelling of words. thanks for this article. voted up.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you, Bill. My own ability to spell is thanks to my mother's commitment level and endless investment in making spelling fun and logical. Just as Malcolm Gladwell aptly points out, no one arrives at success entirely self-made or without persistent effort. I had plenty of friends who went to the same schools I did but didn't come away with an ability to spell. Some had the ability to save lives, others the ability to make lots of money, some others still the ability to raise wonderful kids. If we could all just give each other a little bit of respect, wouldn't our paths be that much easier? Thanks for your comment -- MJ

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I take no credit for being a good speller. When you have nuns ruling like Attila the Hun in grade school you either learn to spell or perish. LOL

      Love the part about online civility. Well done my friend.

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 4 years ago from Arizona

      That's exactly how I feel those spellos should be handled, Cygnet -- what a tactful way to put it. I would love to have a misspelling brought to my attention that way. I like the analogy to forcing one's religion on another. Thank you for your comment -- MJ

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I remember when I was younger, I met a young man who was new to his religion and he zealously pushed his religion down another person's throat until he forced the other individual into a fist fight. Not exactly the way I would recommend. From my experience, people who get all in another person's face in public about spelling is equally as immature. I think that if a person absolutely must let a person know that he or she misspelled a word, that individual should privately go to the other person and say something like "hey, I notice a misspelled word in your post. Would you mind if I tell you which ones are misspelled?" I would only do it then, if I had that kind of a relationship with that individual.


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