|The search for pattern|
Some of us have labored under the belief that all those canings we got
from our sadistic school mistresses after the weekly spelling test were
actually good for us. They were certainly character building - and might
explain our fetishes for gags, thongs and rubber, but did the spelling skills
actually help out in our post-pubescent realities? How important is it to be
able to spell?
Well it's very important because it makes us appear smart. And everyone wants
to appear smart because smart people are usually right. And people listen to
smart people. And smart people are better at telling others what they should
do. Smartness is the path to success.
And the way to show you're smart is to know stuff. Like spelling. If two people
are having an argument, the better speller clearly knows more stuff (eg how
words are spelt). Therefore they must be smarter. Pointing out your adversary's
spelling mistakes proves that you're smarter than they are - therefore you must
Remember Harvey Krumpet?
The lovable little retard who used to write facts in his little fact-book?
He knew that if he remembered enough facts he would become smart.
Sarcasm aside, some of us (including yours truly) grit our collectivist
teeth when our colleagues confuse their/they're/there whether/weather/wether or
it's/its. Of course the annoyance is mitigated by the smug little inner glow we
get when our adversaries display similar peccadilloes.
The reality is that some people just can't spell. Annoying to some of us
perhaps - but so are many things in life - those baseball caps and baggy shorts
that teenagers wear, techno, Ray Martin's toupee, Amanda Vanstone's dress sense
.. the list goes on. Sometimes it's just easier to look the other way
Particularly in light of the fact English is such a terrible language, and (if
the quality of the language itself were the only criteria) one of the worst
possible choices for an international lingua franca. It's just a
hodge-podge of different languages which were spoken by the
invaders-of-the-time in England, or by the elites who were trying to distance
themselves from the common English peasants. The Americans made some small
improvements to the language, but it's still an absolute bete
However, like the qwerty keyboard and the Westminster system, we are kind of
stuck with it. So why not just memorize the little quirks, and take it
like men? It's not that hard - you just have remember .. you know .. stuff.
Because maybe being a good speller doesn't actually make you smart. Maybe
just the opposite. One only has to read the relatively coherent ramblings of
people like Dear
Leader to understand that reasoning and spelling ability are quite
different things. People with a logical mind tend to reject irrationality and
inconsistency. Memorizing spelling rule exception after exception is a bit like
memorizing random numbers - why bother when you can learn principles, or facts
about the real world which can help to solve real problems?
Which of the professions requires the most logical mind? No - don't say lawyers
- lawyers just need to lie with a straight face and perform logical
twists. Law is not about truth or justice, it's about persuasion. The
people who require real skills in logic are engineers (and IT developers). If
the bridge falls down, or the program fails there is little point in pleading
mitigating circumstances or reasonably doubt conspiracies - you will just get
sacked. And both of these groups have a reputation for appalling spelling
skills. Coincidence? Je ne crois pas.
This is a good reason for never rejecting someone's arguments because of
their poor spelling. A piece of work rich in both vocabulary and spelling
errors is probably a sign of a logical mind.
On the flip-side, it's also a sign of personality more concerned with solving
problems than convincing people of the correctness of their arguments. Someone
truly concerned with persuasion understands that more people will be
convinced by a spelling checker than logical structure.
The real abuse of the language, of course, is not the spelling mistakes on the
web, but the sudo-Nglish which GEN-Y is SMSing on their mobile fones. The
tiny keyboards make proper typing nigh impossible, and the limited vocabs which
these ppl employ beg 4 a coding system which is all but unintelligible 2 the
uninitiated. Nglish has evolved gracefully over the centuries, but it may not
survive the age of the SMS txt msg.
In the final NLysis, Nglish is in what the evolutionists wood korl 'a
period of punktuated ekwilibrium'.
UR going 2 hv 2 lrn it B4 lng. I H8 it 2.