Teh state of spelling in today’s phast paste whirled

So i got this message from a friend on the east coast:

   until ahe skight thunders torm

And it was one of the first times that i've ever had to do a double take when reading an IM from a friend.  The problem is that it's soooo close to english that my mind quickly scanend it and glommed some meaning out of it (something about a thunderstorm).  But suddenly i realized that i hadn't gotten enough meaning and i needed to focus more closely.  But when i did i realized that i had absolutely no idea what she was talking about and i had to ask for clarification.  No, she wasn't drunk.  Instead, like me, she's gotten incredibly lazy about spelling (depending instead on tools like Word to autocorrect, or for people to just be able to understand no matter what).

Personally, i have no qualms over this.  I find spelling to be pretty anal and for the most part irrelevant.  Add the fact that english has the most obtuse and incomprehensible spelling rules (which often consist of nothing but exceptions), and you start thinking: "why don't i just spell in a way that is simple and makes sense, and maybe if i'm lucky everyone else will start doing that do and life will be much easier for my kids once they hit second grade".

I always thought 1984 had it ... write 🙂 


Edit: when i told my friend that i'd blogged about this, she immediately responded:

   sen dm ethe linkn


Comments (16)
  1. Frankly, I couldn’t disagree more. Relying on spellcheckers is a crutch. I much more readily dismiss something if it is misspelled. What happens when you can’t use a spellchecker? The machine I’m using to type this doesn’t have Office 2003 on it yet, so I can’t use a spellchecker. In my opinion, a poorly spelled sentence (and one with bad grammar) conveys the wrong feeling, that of unprofessionalism, and at worst, plain stupidity.

    Or, for instance, you are talking to a foreign speaker? They have a hard enough time trying to understand English, so at least spell correctly so they can at least find the word in a dictionary.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the occasional misspelling, or misspelled words that are hard to spell.

    Correct spelling can also convey information accurately. If I misspell something, it is eaiser to get the wrong message from that sentence.

    Sorry, but I think you are wrong.

  2. As a foreign speaker, i find english’s constant stupidities to be the biggest barrier toward understanding the written word well. 🙂

  3. I agree with Cyrus and have to say to Matt that it depends on the forum. If I am sending an email to a customer, definitely the spelling is important. If I am writing to a forum (like the Hawthorn AFL one I write on (too often), http://www.hawkheadquarters.com) I don’t see that it is important as long as the bad spelling doesn’t change the context. To be honest, its a time issue for me. Mark if you have the time to make sure that all your write has been spelled correctly, good for you, me I have better things to do!

    Phillip "Molly" Malone

    PS. Having said that, just for you have checked the spelling of this post!

  4. Wes M says:

    Actually, much of English’s "constant stupidities" come from the foreign language in which the word was lifted directly from. For whatever reason, when we encounter a new and useful word that should be added to the language, we don’t try to adapt it into some set of English rules and forms. Also, that standardization didn’t really take place until about 200-300 years ago didn’t help much.

  5. Tristan wilkinson says:

    It’s more difficult to read badly spelt and arranged text than correct text, no matter what your base language is… surely this is of far more importance than how quick you can type something.

    …people actually copy message board posts, emails, etc. into spellcheckers before they post them…? The very idea… is unnerving. Why can’t you watch what you’re typing and correct as you go? There are no problems with hard-to-spell words being slightly off or anything, only pepl tht typ lyk ths. And they’re not likely to run a checker.

    In any case, it’s more difficult to type incorrectly than it is to type correctly, in my opinion…

    …and you’re a PROGRAMMER? One would think that superlative typing skills were required…

  6. Tristan: was "spelt" on purpose?

    Even though it was mispelt 😀 i had no problem understanding it.

  7. Tristan Wilkinson says:

    We don’t all live in the US, Cyrus…

  8. RonO says:

    Funny, my dictionary program lists the following when I give it the word ‘spelt’:

    Verb: spell (spelt, also spelled)

    1. Recite the letters of or give the spelling of

    2. Indicate or signify

    3. Write or name the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)

    Of course, the program comes from a British company, so what do they know? 😉

  9. Tristan: "…and you’re a PROGRAMMER? One would think that superlative typing skills were required… "

    As a programmer i am *always* looking for ways for tools to do most of the job for me. My only job is to get the basic ideas down, and then use the tools to refine them to make them safe, maintainable and completely understood by both my colleagues and the computer.

    As such, i see Word as just a tool that helps me compile what i’m saying to you. Why bother myself with spelling when a tool can vastly outperform me and allow me to both with the actual important thing, i.e.: the content

    As a programmer, good typing skill are not a requirement at all, and the only typing skill i actually need is to make sure that if i do make a mistake that it’s a mistake that will be caught. i.e. in C++ i have to make sure that if i’m typing:

    if (foo == bar)

    that i don’t mispell == with =

    the rest of that is completely mispellable (yaay for invented words) and good tools will understand what i’m doing and automatically fix, or markup the problems.

    It reminds me a lot of Ender’s game, or rather Speaker for the Dead, where Ender communicates with jane through Subvocalization. if the meaning can be conveyed without any problems (as it clearly can between you and i despite different languages and numerous mispellings), then what’s the point of worrying about those side issues?

  10. Tristan: That just helps my point. If you’re from a different country and i have no problem understanding you despite the differences in spelling, then why not extend that further and realize that much of communication in this day is not dependent on spelling and rules can certainly be relaxed.

  11. Molly: I’m with you on this. In IMs it is just not relevant to me that spelling be 100% correct. In fact, as i was trying to show with my post, the mind is flexible enough to understand spelling even when it’s like at the 50% point 🙂

    If i was talking ot someone who i had no relationship with i put a lot more effort into spelling as i realize that for many the ability to automatically grok mispelled text without effort might not be there.

    I may make some mistakes and miss a few things, but i am definitely putting in a effort past what i do in casual communication.

  12. Wes: Thanks for the insight!

    It still backs up my position that english is a horribly confusing language when it comes to the written (or spelled) word.

  13. DrPizza says:

    Isn’t the entire anti-spelling position rather undermined by the completely unintelligible nature of the statements in question?

  14. barfield says:

    I’m from another country and its impossible for me to read garbage english. I do make a lot of grammer and spelling mistakes when I’m writing a letter/post or email but those are relatively small errors that make the text easier to read.

    I would hate to think about everyone using garbage english everywhere. That would be very hard to get used too.

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