Can’t you spell??

Published 6th April 2011
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Can’t you spell??

The English language is notoriously difficult to learn, and part of the reason for this is that its spelling is often not phonetic. This means that it can be difficult to guess how to spell some words if you’ve never seen them written down before. I’m a native speaker of English who reads a lot, so I don’t have any real spelling problems, but even so, there are words that trip me up.

I’m certain that it isn’t just me – a cursory glance at facebook tells me that many people are in the same boat, and sometimes much worse. Some of the interesting spellings I’ve come across recently are: ‘yesturday’ (presumably based on ‘Saturday’), ‘definately’, ‘portentous’ (the offender meant ‘pretentious’, and probably didn’t realise that she had written something completely different), and those are just the ones I can remember off-hand.

I haven’t even mentioned the abuse and neglect that the apostrophe suffers daily, but frankly that’s a can of worms that I daren’t open.

So, why don’t people make more effort? Don’t they realise how badly their spelling reflects upon them? Don’t they care? The truth is, it’s probably a little of both. Sadly, many people think spelling isn’t important. This is especially the case now, when computers can spell-check entire documents at the touch of a button. This is all well and good when it comes to making a few final checks and detecting typos, but I don’t think we should rely on our computers as much as we do.

I’m a fairly good speller, but the words I always have to think hard about before writing are: ‘biscuit’ and ‘recommend’. Do you ever have trouble with particular words? What do you think about our (over) reliance on spell-checkers?



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