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The Spellchecker

This blog is a very courageous undertaking on my behalf because, while you may dismiss my opinions as those of a raving nutcase, my attack on the ability to, or not to spell opens the door on my own vulnerability.

As I wander around shopping centres, I am constantly bombarded with creative spelling innovations, so much so that after a while I begin to doubt my own interpretation of correct spelling for some words.

Does no-one in that place know how to spell or are they just careless, although this is not the first time I’ve found their billboard wanting a letter or a re-arrangement of letters? Imagine if they were this careless, haphazard or just lacking in skill in their practice.

I used to watch a show on the ABC called Can We Help? There was an interesting segment by Professor Kate Burridge (Chair of Linguistics, Monash University) in which she would explain the origin of words and phrases as requested by her audience.  She would show how over time spelling, usage and meaning would gradually change. Perhaps this is happening before my eyes and I just can’t accept it. Maybe modern technology with its spell check, texting, predictive text and myriad of abbreviation alternatives has transcended the need to spell at all. Or, horror of horrors, do we just not care?

I’m reminded of a research project that concluded:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

It seems that research suggests that understanding is paramount, and that spelling is only a tool to reach that goal.  Apparently if the tool is not sharp it doesn’t matter as often with today’s society “near enough is good enough”. Dare I ask that for your next assignment you hand in a creative version or does that happen already?

Ponder for a while on all the rules and instructions we daily follow. There are traffic rules, rules of etiquette and operating manuals to mention just a few. These are necessary to stop us from descending into societal chaos and it is for this reason also that correct spelling is essential in today’s society.