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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Improving Your Sense of "Spell"

I imagine that most kids in school dreaded spelling dictations. When I was in school, every Friday was dedicated to taking a spelling test where we would be quizzed on the words that we studied all week long. If we ended up with a perfect score, we would get rewarded with a sticker. I imagine for some, a coloured sticker wasn't worth the stress of a spelling test, but I loved it.

I always took pride in having a perfect spelling paper. It wasn't until I wanted to make writing as a career goal before I understood why, but let's just get it out of the way. Knowing how to spell is crucial if one wants to have a writing career.

As a result, I admit that I may take spelling more seriously than the average person. I mean, if someone makes a spelling error in a letter or an e-mail, they chuckle, they shrug their shoulders, or they post it on Failbook or Damn You, AutoCorrect.

I, on the other hand, cringe, and it leads to my confession for today.

THURSDAY CONFESSION #23 – I am unapologetic in calling out spelling errors, especially in places where it should be unforgivable to find them.

I suppose a more derogatory term for that confession is assuming the role of a so-called “Spelling Nazi”, but I think in some cases, you almost have to be.

Don't get me wrong. There are allowances that can be made when it comes to spelling errors. If someone is texting someone in a hurry on a mobile phone (hopefully in a sitting postion that does not involve driving any sort of vehicle at the same time), then mistakes happen. If someone is jotting down a grocery list in a hurry, mistakes can happen. I'll even readily admit to making typographical errors in this very blog that I don't even know I've done until someone else points it out to me! But to my credit, I'll go back and edit my posts to fix it.

When it comes down to it, especially in this age where we have spellcheck on almost all word processing programs, and dictionaries (both online and print versions), there's really no excuse to misspell a word. None whatsoever.

I've searched the depths of the Internet to find examples of misspellings in popular culture, and let's put it this way. I wasn't disappointed. I know I said earlier that there are some instances in which spelling a word or two incorrectly is okay. But when it involves billboards, magazines, mobile phone applications, video games, and even news station graphics, one has to wonder if knowing how to spell has lost its importance in society.

Let's have a look at some of these misspellings in action, and this first example is a very recent story.

As you may know by now (unless you've been living in your underground bomb shelter preparing for the “2012 Apocalypse”), there's a Presidential election going on, and it looks like Americans have to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Naturally, both candidates have been campaigning for votes in preparation for the November election, and both have used different techniques to get the word out about what their policies and promises are.

For Mitt Romney, he felt that it would be a good idea to use a mobile phone app to promote his run for Presidency. With an app known as “With Mitt” for the iPhone, people could upload photos of themselves, and attach one of Mitt's slogans to the picture to express support for him.

So imagine people's surprise when they discovered that this was one of the slogans.

Wow. It's pretty bad when a Presidential candidate doesn't even know how to even spell the name of the country he wants to run, isn't it? I suppose it might have been forgivable if he was running for President of Kazakhstan or Djibouti, but come does an American over the age of five misspell the word America?

Of course, Romney's campaign staff did some damage control as the spelling was corrected, saying things such as “it was a typo”, or “mistakes happen”. Yeah, that might be true if you were doing a fourth grade essay on the history of Amercia America. But if you're running for PRESIDENT, you make sure you know how to spell America! It's just that simple.  Granted, the mistake was probably not made by Romney himself, but he still should have looked into checking the spelling before approving it.

Of course, Romney is hardly the first American politician to be associated with a spelling boo-boo. If we go back almost 20 years to June 15, 1992, we can take a look at then Vice-President Dan Quayle's attempt at spelling the word “potato”.

It was at a spelling bee at a New Jersey elementary school, and 12-year-old student William Figueroa had just wrote the word “potato” on the blackboard. Of course, Figueroa had spelled the word correctly. Quayle, on the other hand, felt otherwise, and actually added an “E” onto the word, making it “potatoe”, which unless you add an s to the end of that word is INCORRECT.

Quayle would later claim that “Potatogate” happened because he relied too much on the written cards that the school had provided him, which he claimed also had the misspelling. Sounds like a rather weak excuse to me, but then again, I was eleven in 1992, and I already knew how to spell the word potato. And tomato, for that matter.

You know, all this talk about food is making me hungry. I think I'll go out for a walk and check and see what's available to eat.

Good grief, where do we begin with THIS one? First things first, does adding an extra “N” to donut make them taste better? Secondly, I'm pretty sure that is not the correct way to spell coffee...or, is it supposed to be cough? Either way, I don't like either with my meal, thank you. And, I'd be mighty interested in seeing how one makes a beacon, egg, and cheese on a roll. Wouldn't a beacon be mighty tough to digest? It'd probably blind you as the light spun around and around while you attempted to bite into it.

You know, forget eating right now. I think I'd rather watch a video. Oh, hold on, I forgot that I recorded programming from FOX News the night of May 1, 2011. If I remember correctly, wasn't that the day that Osama Bin Laden was killed by American troops? I believe it was. Let's have a look at a screen capture.

Wow...that's pretty bad. Even for a FOX affiliate. OBAMA Bin Laden? Now, granted, I understand that Osama and Obama are similar in spelling, with only one letter difference between the two...but when you consider that on a standard QWERTY keyboard, the B key isn't anywhere near the S key, it makes one go hmmmmm. Sure enough, some people cried BS about the mistake, and some wondered whether the mistake was intentional or not. After all, FOX News is very much pro-Republican...of which Obama is not.  I'll readily admit to not being a huge fan of FOX News myself, but to their credit, they weren't the only ones to mix up the spelling of Osama and Obama. It's still a mighty embarrassing error to make though.

I'm bored. I think I'm going to pull out a book from my comic book collection, because surely spelling mistakes NEVER happen in comic books, right?


You know the character Betty Cooper from Archie comics right? Blond, beautiful, and goes a little bit loco every time she spots a man with a checkerboard pattern embedded in his red hair. Did you know that she keeps a diary of all of her thoughts and feelings? In older comics, her diary entries only lasted a page, but the feature was so successful that she ended up getting her own comic book series called “Betty's Diary”, which ran from 1986-1991. Let's have a look at one of these stories.

Now, I don't know how much you know about Archie comics, but Betty Cooper's family ranged in economic stability between middle class, and just above the poverty line, depending on the story. If Betty was making her own clothes in the tale, chances were that the Cooper family didn't have a whole lot of money.  Therefore, I ask the question, when the heck did they buy their daughter an entire DAIRY FARM?!? I can see it now.

Dear Dairy, today I milked all the cows and fetched all the eggs from the chicken coops, wondering why my family couldn't just buy me a DIARY instead.”

Poor Betty. I'm so sad for her that I just want to put down the comic book and play some video games. Ah, Final Fantasy VII. A fantastic choice. It's filled with action, puzzles, and a lot of text reading. Surely, every word will be spelled correctly and USED properly, right?

Okay, I'll give FFVII some credit. The words are spelled correctly. They just aren't used properly. Aerith should have said “This guy IS sick”, or “THESE GUYS are sick”. Not “This guy are sick.” It kind of makes her sound like she's been hitting the sauce one too many times. Though, when you consider that when you first meet her, she's selling flowers in a slum after a gigantic explosion occurs and half the neighbourhood is ON FIRE BEHIND HER, clearly Aerith isn't in her right frame of mind anyway. And, this is just one of the many spelling and grammatical errors that I found within the game. Granted, when games get translated from Japanese to English, some things get lost in translation. But once you have the basic translation done, how hard is it to rewrite it for the American audience? And, don't even get me started on the fourth edition of Final “YOU SPOONY BARD” Fantasy. I would need an entire blog entry on that game alone.

The truth is that spelling errors can be found just about everywhere these days. They can be found on or near sidewalks...

...on billboards...

...and even on protest signs.

For the record, I really have no clue how to pronounce the word "ENOUNGH".

So, I guess my next question is...why do we allow it?

I can only speak for myself when I give this opinion out, but I take a sense of pride in knowing that whatever I create is spelled correctly. I just wish that more would have that attitude.

Granted, I know that people make mistakes, and the odd spelling error is fine, depending on the circumstances behind it.  I wouldn't recommend peppering a job application or a book report with spelling errors, but there's some instances where it doesn't really matter (like on a shopping list, for example).  On the other hand, I honestly feel that it is inexcusable to have incorrect spelling in huge letters on a giant billboard in the middle of Times Square. It's inexcusable to have a text-based game that is impossible to understand because of atrocious spelling. It's inexcusable to misspell the word “America” when you're a candidate to be elected the President of the whole country!

When you're typing up something for a business presentation, a job application, or anything, really, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to read and re-read the entire document and fix up any errors that you might not know you made. After I finish typing this entry out, I plan on doing exactly that. After all, we all owe it to ourselves to present the best possible impression to other people that we can. And for me, that includes correct spelling.

I'm including a link to this post HERE. It's a list of some of the more common spelling mistakes that all of us have made at some point. I only included this one because of the snark and hilarity associated with it. Take a look at it though, it is a great resource.

After all, spelling is important. And if you don't make sure that it is correct, it could impact your life in a big way.

On that note, good day all, and write it right!


  1. ROFL!! The pubic schools and anus burgers made me choke on my coffee!! Great blog Bud!! I'm afraid I'm a bit of a spelling freak myself.

    1. It drives me crazy whenever I see a spelling error in a newspaper or magazine. If only they had job openings for copy editing, I would totally be at my element!