I love words.
I may not know every single one in the English language, but I truly love them. I love saying random things – maybe even slightly offensive things – just to hear the way they roll off the tongue.
I also feel like this when I write. I like seeing short words, long words, crazily spelled words on a piece of paper or a computer screen.
But I draw the line at poor spelling. Especially from educated people who know better.
I’m in a profession where spelling counts. Or, at least, that’s what my university professors told me. I suppose I was only one of a handful who actually listened.
In a world where millions of dictionaries, both hardcover and paperback, are still printed year after year, the English language seems to be fighting a long, hard tug-of-war against laziness, electronic short-hand and spell check. And I wonder if it’s not losing.
The other day, my mom mentioned a local talk radio host, who has a show on in the evenings sometimes. Apparently during a segment several weeks ago, he used a word incorrectly. An older female caller phoned in, telling him the real meaning …
And she made the horrible mistake of mentioning she used a dictionary to find it.
“Whaaaat?” the host drawled slowly. “You used a dictionary?”
“Yes,” the caller replied.
“Yes,” she enthused.
A pause, then …
“Why didn’t you just use Google?”
His reliable source of reference is Google? Where people misuse and misspell words ALL THE TIME?!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, someone also mentioned another instance to me – and I wish I could find the reference – in which educators were actually mulling over the idea to let kids in school spell things whichever way they wanted.
What’s the point in learning “spelling” in class if the kids won’t know the difference between what’s right and wrong?
Even yesterday on a New Zealand parliamentary Web site, there was a write-up about how “plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying apprentices do not have to meet any spelling or writing standards when taking exams for plumbing registration“.
Aw, HELL, no. This nonsense has to stop.
I’m sure I sound right now like I’m either borderline anal-retentive or a touch obsessive-compulsive.
But damned if I have to apologize for my behaviour when it comes to atrocious spelling.
Outside of work, or while I read e-mails – whatever. If I can understand what people are trying to say, fine. (There are friends that won’t even let that go, and frankly, I don’t blame them.)
But at work – where one of my co-workers has a dictionary on his desk, beside his computer monitor, and STILL refuses to spell things correctly, you can bet I turn into a spelling Nazi.
A few weeks ago, he wrote something involving the name Guatemala.
Only he spelled it G-U-A-T-A-M-A-L-A.
I noticed it and changed it to the correct spelling.
A little while later, I discovered he changed it back. So I did what any foot soldier of the English language would do: I changed it again.
And what did he do? He changed it the hell back.
So I said in a loud voice, “It’s NOT Gua-TAH-mala. It’s Gua-TAY-mala! With an E!”
He didn’t change it after that.
But this is constant at work. I lost a small battle over the name Anne Frank, and threw up my hands last week after I noticed someone spelled Beirut wrong.
I seriously am beginning to think I should lobby to be the official spell-checker where I work. ‘Cause that’s ridiculous that seasoned veterans of my business can’t spell and it takes most fibres in my being not to yell at them.
I also honestly think that more people – and fantastic spellers at that – should take up the gauntlets and help fight against horrible spelling.
Seriously. Strength in numbers, yo. Who’s with me?
P.S.: It’s sort of funny to me reading this entry weeks later, since I noticed a few spelling errors in my haste to type this out. Someone pointed out my grammar was appalling. Well, I DID say I can turn into a spelling Nazi … not a grammar Nazi. But it’s good to have it pointed out once in a while.
This probably proves I spend too much time in front of the computer and not enough time reading books. Or dictionaries.