Knowing my love of words, Dad gave me a spelling book he received in the late 40s while attending trade school in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. The preface of Word Studies by R. G. Walters says, “A mastery of words includes more than the mere ability to spell. It includes correct pronunciation, correct syllabication, the ability to identify words as parts of speech, a knowledge of the meaning of words, and the ability to use words correctly and forcefully.” Amen, Mr. Walters.
Enhanced orthography would have corrected “You only live ones” and “Too cool for scool” before these words were permanently inked on a forearm and a shoulder-blade. A competent copy editor in 1631 might have prevented a Bible from going to press saying, “Thou shalt commit adultery” and saved the publisher a hefty fine. Mitt Romney would have been a bit more convincing if his tech team had rechecked the name of his campaign phone app, “A Better Amercia.” And, one would think that almost anyone associated with the Vatican would have noticed that Jesus was spelled Lesus before 6,000 papal medals were cast in 2013, but no. Spell check is woefully inadequate and don’t get me started on the possible downside of depending on auto-correct.
Before the next time we click send, before we OK our next tattoo, and before we tweet, blog, or post, let’s all pause a moment. One more read-through out loud might keep us from bad ink, humiliating typos, and a loss of credibility. Take a deep breath, keep calm, and reread.
“Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.” ~Mark Twain, A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling