When I were a wee lad, my folks wouldn't let me have a calculator - those then-newfangled things were all the rage at my school, and I just had to have one. But I didn't need one, really. If you couldn't do the math in your head, the use of pen and paper was a great thing in terms of imprinting more things into your do-the-math head. Years later, my classmates would bring calculators to use in their physics or math exams, and it didn't seem to save them much time, or provide them with any extra accuracy.

But I digress.

I had dictionaries galore, though, as a kid, and my requests to spell this or that word were met with a similar "do the math" admonition: "look it up". And now, even in this age of spellchecking devices, I keep an old pocket dictionary nearby, and I think the hunting down of words in a book does more to reinforce correct spellings than some cute little spellchecking app.

But I digress.

Learn how to spell. It's not just for our sakes as readers, but for your sake. If you can't spell in your native language, you look foolish. If your node is essentially about how big your mind's dick is, you undercut your argument and your preening when you spell relatively simple words wrong, and it makes you look like a generic 13-year-old, trying way too hard to sound like a grownup.

Just a note: It does no good for you to soft-link this node to a write-up and not inform the author of the node (via a /msg or #everything) of what is mis-spelled, it may not be just a typo, there are millions of words in the english language and don't expect everyone to know how to spell all of them. They may not bother to look it up because they may think they are right. If you want the spelling to improve on Everything2, you have to correct the mistake, soft-linking a node just doesn't cut it.

Most people are gracious when you point out such an error and fix it as soon as they get your message, often times thanking you for pointing it out, also remember that you can't take away a downvote.

Sorry, this was softlinked to a node of mine and I couldn't find a spelling error in it, so I'm frustrated. It could have been soft-linked to that node by mistake, but the points made are still valid. Ok, I found the typo in the title, sorry.

Well known scholar and intellectual Mary Claire van Leunen has this to say about spelling, in her famous book A Handbook for Scholars:

From what I understand, spelling ability correlates with nothing--not with intelligence, not with verbal ability, not with age (after childhood), not with eye color, left-handedness, cyclothymia, blood type, structure boundedness, authoritarian impulses, sex, race, religion, national origin, or any other measure the testers can develop. Some people spell well, some people don't, and that's all there is to it. If by the time you're twleve or thirteen you don't spell well, you probably never will, and you should plan your life accordingly. I know what I'm talking about--I have already had to look up how to spell two words in this paragraph.

Moral of the story: it seems that those who loathe bad spellers (as I'm sometimes known to do) ought to be a little more sympathetic. We all have our weaknesses.

Asqui makes an interestring, if off-topic, point:

Surely most spelling mistakes in everything are just typos, rather than actual lack of spelling knowledge on the writer's part.

Typos are bad. It shows a lack of skill at typing, and we all are comunicating through typing. If there is anything that we should all be worried about it is typos. (We should not downvote bekaus of them, but we should be quite wary of such things).

But that's not the point of this node... So let's head back to the featured topic.

Shurly, if anything is indikative of a noders' intelligence, it is spelling. (Sorry, Klash, and Mary Claire van Leunen). If yor spelling is not klear, logikal, and konsistant, this is probably a sign that your thinking isn't all that klear and logikal either.

We are all intelligent pep'l, and ther is no (klear and logikal) reason we should choos an outdated tradishon over functionality. But, we du. Nearly every node in the database uses an old-fashuned and internaly inkonsistent stile uv spelling. You fools, yoos yor imaginashun! Speling shuld be a simpl and straetforward sistem uv puting yor spoken language intu print. If there is no such sistem avalabl, yu should make yor own.

There ar problems, tru, but better tu work twords a sistem that works than tu stick with wun that is needlessly komplex and konfusing. (For exampl, yu spell 'uv' with an 'o' and an 'f'. Du yu hear an 'f' in uv? I shur dont).

Learn How To Spel! Dont take sum outdated dikshunarie's word for it. Yu have a brane, yus it. Memorizashun uv esoteric knowledge is not a sutabl replacement for good ol' fashuned thinking.

Lern How Tu Think!

I learned how to read, with the help of my brother (10 years older than me.) He didn’t teach me to sound out words (it didn’t seem to work for me.) He would simply point at a word and say “That says dog” I had no idea why it said dog, but I could remember the shape of the word. I knew how to read by the time I was in kindergarten (Stephen King and such, I was proud) I never played any attention to all of the “sounding it out” stuff because I could read, what did it matter?

Of course I had hordes of trouble with spelling, eventually I was tested for dyslexia. Yup, I had it-- but, I’ve tried never to use it as an excuse, I could read, and with the aid of a computer spell checker I could write (though it took several years before I was able to pick the right word form the list the checker presented me) I used to spell every 3rd word wrong. Now I only misspell every 10th or so.

Words like “does” and “dose” look pretty much the same to me. The only way to learn the spelling of a word was to memorise the sequence of letters in a little song:

D- O- S- E (sung one way)
D- O- E- S (sung another)

That’s how I still do it to this day (but not out loud, thank God!) Needless to say, it takes a long time to learn a song for every word. If a word is less common, or very long I just guess and put down a bunch of letters until it looks sort-of like the word. If you say a word that I don’t know and ask me to write it down, I can get the first letter right but after that it’s hopeless. “Is it a short word or a long one? Tall letters or short? How bumpy is it?” This is not an effective way to spell.

I tried learning to sound out words when I was about 15 and made some headway. But, mostly still using the little songs:

D and E de de de...
M and O mo mo mo ...

It helped a bit.

I honestly don’t think I would have learned to read or have been very successful at school if my brother had not taught me to read with his brute force method. I would have been labelled as “learning disabled” and I’d be flipping hamburgers now-- But, I learned to cope. It was hard though.

I spell check my emails my greeting cards (I type them first then write them out by hand). I even check my posit notes (so I can read them later.) I’m a firm believer that a learning disability like dyslexia should not hold anyone back.

Computers are great. I used to use a “bad spellers dictionary” but, how can you look up a word when you don’t know how to spell it? How can you recognise a word if they all look the same? The computer spell check gives me four or five choices and then, most of the time, I can remember the shape of the word when I see it. When that won’t work, I go online and search for a sentence where I know the word will be used, or I look up all the words on the list in the dictionary. It takes me about 20 min to write a five page paper and 2 hours to spell check it . . . My point is that, some people will have more trouble learning to spell. I do my best, I know how important it is to be clear and to communicate. In fact, I work in a field where communication is critical: the theatre, I write plays. I spend hours checking them and there are still errors. But mostly, I pass. The words get through. Thank God!

Just to show you guys how bad it is, here is the text of this node before the computer spell checker. I have gone over it twice, and done my best to remove all the errors I could find.


I learend how to read, with the help of my brother (10 years older than me.) He didn’t teach me to sound out words (it didn’t seem to work for me.) He would simply point at a word and say “That says dog” I had no idea why it siad dog, but I could remember the shape of the word I knew how to read by the time I was in kinterdergarten (Steven King and such, I was proud) I never payed any attention to all of the “sounding it out” stuff becuse I could read, what did it matter?

Of course I had horeds of trouble with spelling, eventaully I was tested for dislexcia. Yup, I had it-- but, I’ve tried never to use it as an excuse, I could read, and with the aid of a computer spell checker I could write (though it took severl years before I was able to pick the right word form the list the checker presented me) I used to spell every 3rd word wrong. Now I only misspell every 10th or so.

Words like “does” and “dose” look pretty much the same to me. The only way to learn the spelling of a word was to memorize the sequence of letters in a little song:

D- O- S- E (sung one way)
D- O- E- S (sung another)

that’s how I still do it to this day (but not out loud, thank God!) Needless to say it takes a long time to learn a song for every word. If a word is less common, or very long I just gues and put down a bunch of letters untill it looks sort-of like the word. If you say a word that I don’t know and ask me to write it down, I can get the first letter right but after that it’s hopeless. “Is it a short word or a long one? Tall letters or short? How bumpy is it?” This is not an effective way to spell.

I tried learing to sound out words when I was about 15 and made some head way. But mostly using little songs:

D and E de de de...
M and O mo mo mo ...

It helped a bit.

I honestly don’t think I would have learned to read or have been very sucessful at school if my brother had not taugh me to read with his brut focre method. I would have been labled as “learning disabled” and flipping hamburgers now-- But I learned to cope. It was hard though.

I spell check my emails my greeting cards (I type them first then write them out by hand). I even check my posti notes (so I can read them later.) I’m a firm believer that a lering disibility like dislexcia should not hold anyone back. Computers are great. I used to use a “bad spellers dictionary” but how can you look upa word when you don’t know how to spell it? How can you recognize a word if they all look the same? The computer spell check gives me four or five choices and then, most of the time, I can remember the shape of the word when I see it. When that won’t work, I go online and serch for a sentence when I know the word will be used, or I look all the words on the list up in the dictionary. It takes me about 20 min to write a five page paper and 2 hours to spell check it . . . My point is that, some people will have more trouble leanring to spell. I do my best, I know how important it is to be clear and to communicate. In fact I work in a felid where communicaton is critical: the threatre I write plays. I spend hours checking them and there are still errors. But mostly, I pass. The words get through. Thank God!

Just to show you guys how bad it is here is the text of this node before the computer spell checker. I have gone over it and done my best to remove all the errors I could find.

The top secret to spelling is aesthetics. The difference between good spellers and bad spellers isn't memorizing a bunch of wonky rules; drop that shit like a bad habit. It's all about their ability to tell the way a word is supposed to look. Your English teachers memorized all those rules, but there's no shortage of English teachers who are poor spellers.

Allow me to qualify this. I'm sure you've heard that the only steadfast rule in English is that every rule has an exception. And it's possible you may have also heard that people rely on images rather than individual letters to read quickly (Remember that "Can you raed tihs?" chainmail?). Well, let's put two and two together here. Every language has its own aesthetics. When you look at something in a foreign language, there's a good chance you might be able to identify it as, say, Korean, German, Chinese, or Japanese. You don't actually know these languages (most likely), but just by the shape of things you can tell.

Here's a real-world example, as well as one of the most famous rules. "'I' before 'E' except after 'C.'" Well, sure, this will work for "receive" or "pier." But really, you have to weigh the benefits of such a rule against any sort of weird exceptions, yes? Not just "W" either. "Sleigh" and "Raleigh" are the same way. On the other hand, consider this from the perspective of aesthetics. Try transposing the "I" and "E" in any of these examples. Barring your being dyslexic, it looks dumb, right? Thought so.

Of course, there's a bit of a catch to this method. If you're not typing in a fixed-width font it can be hard to catch silly little typing errors that result in things that aren't really words. Use fixed-width. Of course, if you want to bitch and moan about how this doesn't work for you blah blah blah, feel free to do so to your heart's content.

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