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You Spelled It Wrong

Updated on January 8, 2012

Spelling is the arrangement of letters to form a word. Letters may be arranged alphabetically, or phonetically. This article addresses the former.

Importance of Correct Spelling

People who do not care about spelling things correctly give the impression of being uneducated. Others take them less seriously than people who do take time to spell correctly. Most every career in the world requires at the very least, basic spelling skills. One of my past jobs was working as an assistant office manager in the local branch of a national company.

The best part about the job was that my personal secretary had coffee waiting every single morning. So what if it was terrible coffee that needed half a pound of sugar and a gallon of vanilla creamer before it could be considered drinkable? It was free, and I did not have to make it myself. The worst part about having a personal secretary was that I constantly had to fix her spelling mistakes. Often I ended up writing my own memos and doing my own paperwork because I didn't trust her to send out company-wide notices free of blatant, glaring spelling errors. Allowing it would ruin my reputation not only with the local office, but also with the company's corporate headquarters.

Causes of Poor Spelling

The reasons for poor spelling are many and varied, but the bottom line is that society accepts it as the norm. Abbreviations and internet lingo are used more than the actual words to the point that they are added to otherwise well-respected dictionaries. For instance, additions to the 2011 dictionary included some of these gems:

  • TMI - abbreviation meaning Too Much Information
  • sammich - another word for sandwich
  • prolly - the way lazy people say probably
  • TBH - abbreviation meaning To Be Honest
  • woot - an exclamation of surprise, encouragement, or excitement

Really? How about we spend less time sending texts and instant messages, and more time reverting back to things like the good old Speak and Spell? I remember weekend afternoons at my grandparents' house passing it back and forth with my cousins. We took pride in trying to be the top speller for that day!

Also, it's a sad fact that people read less. A lot of kids today seem content to do just enough to get by in school so they can get back to their video games and other handheld devices. It's a proven fact that kids who spend more time reading and writing have a higher vocabulary and better spelling skills than ones who spend less time reading. Even when they do use a computer to write things out for their homework, features that automatically correct misspelled words allow users to ignore their own bad habits.

This is also true with adults. Between my husband and me, I am the reader. I can read a single novel in an afternoon. There is a Kindle app on my phone, and another on my laptop, so I am never far from my favorite classic pieces of literature. My husband is lucky to read through a couple of magazines in a month. He is more content to spend an afternoon doing something he considers productive, like woodworking projects, or tinkering with the engine of his truck. If you looked at our text messages, telling which belonged to each of us would be no problem at all, even without names. I love him dearly, but mine are the ones with all the words spelled correctly. (They have proper capitalization and punctuation, too!)

Improving Your Spelling

If you want to improve your spelling, start reading more. Write things out by hand before typing them into a computer program that has an auto-correct feature. Play online games like Bookworm, that require some kind of spelling knowledge. I play a text game called Achaea, and it's taught me a lot about spelling, regarding both the UK and US versions of the English language! Buy a dictionary, look up one new word each day that you didn't already know, and find at least two ways to use it during that day -- even if one of those ways is Twitter or Facebook. Word of the day calendars are great for this.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or suggestions on this topic I'd love to hear them!

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